PARISIAN SEDUCTION: Restore confidence, reassure foreign tourists on security and boost Paris’ attractiveness by highlighting French lifestyle; these are the goals of a campaign kicked off Monday by French authorities to promote the city as a go-to spot as visitor levels remain very low six months after Paris terror attacks.
“In Paris, we continue to live,” said Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo at a press conference for the launch held at the Eiffel Tower, also attended by French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development Jean-Marc Ayrault and Jérôme Chartier, vice president of the Paris region council.
“Children go to school, people go to work — sometimes they’re on strike — they go to restaurants, theaters, etc. There’s life. We must send the positive message. We won’t stop living and we are taking the necessary measures to ensure security,” Hidalgo added.
In mid-May, the French parliament extended the country’s post-attacks state of emergency until the end of July in order to cover the UEFA Euro 2016 soccer tournament, set to take place in Paris and other French cities from June 10 to July 10, and the Tour de France cycling race, scheduled from July 2 to 24.
The launch of the campaign comes a few days before the soccer championship and while transport strikes and demonstrations against France’s Socialist government’s proposed labor law look set to continue. “There must be dialogue to get out of the situation, which is temporary. I am confident [in the dialogue], given the stakes,” Hidalgo continued.
“It’s a crucial time for tourism, which has been ailing for more than six months. It’s an essential sector that employs 500,000 in the Paris region, represents 21 billion euros [or $23.33 billion at current exchange] in economic benefit, and almost 75,000 companies,” noted Chartier.
Paris remained the first touristic destination in the world in 2015, with 16 million visitors. But the November 13 attacks continue to weigh on tourism numbers. In the first quarter of this year, the hotel occupancy rate in the French capital was 57.3 percent, down 7.7 points compared to the prior year.
Also in the first quarter of 2016, the level of Japanese tourists dropped 56 percent; Italians, 24 percent, and Russians, 35 percent, according to the Paris Ile-de-France Regional Tourism Committee, or CRT Paris Ile-de-France. Meanwhile, the number of Chinese visitors decreased 13.9 percent, versus their 49 percent increase in full-year 2015.
The campaign — financed primarily by the government (one million euros, or $1.11 million at current exchange) and the city alongside the Paris tourist and convention office (800,000 euros, or $888,856 at current exchange) — includes advertising visuals. They feature a raspberry macaroon; a park or a colorful street art fresco–and are festooned with the slogan “Made in Paris.” Visuals will be used online and plastered in print across the capital, some other cities abroad, in airports and in French embassies, starting in June.
In addition, Jalil Lespert, the “Yves Saint Laurent” and “Versailles” director, was tapped to direct a promotional film. “We are going to portray the splendor of Paris,” said Lespert at the conference. He told WWD it comprises 90-second to two-minute clips starring both French personalities and foreigners who live in Paris. The shoot is to take place in the coming days.
There’s also a public relations component to the campaign, which includes flying foreign journalists and trendsetters into town for themed events. After a focus on gastronomy earlier this year and on Parisian nightlife (slated for this weekend to coincide with the ‘We are Green’ festival and ‘The Weather Festival’), there’s a luxury theme in the pipeline and another one focused on shopping (set to take place around the French winter sales period in January), Nicolas Lefebvre, managing director of the Paris tourist and convention office, explained to WWD.
Initiatives are targeting 16 key markets starting with European countries and the U.S., Lefebvre said. “We speak a lot about Asian tourists. But Europeans and Americans make up the bulk of the troops; they’re the ones we can get back in the near term,” he said.
Earlier in the day, the CRT Paris Ile-de-France alerted the French government to the gravity of the situation that’s exacerbating already low visitor levels. The Paris region’ governing body stated that the social movements visible in central Paris, which have been reported globally, “reinforce the feeling of fear and confusion of visitors in an environment that’s already anxiety-inducing, following the prolongation of the state of emergency,” the CRT stated. “There is still time to save the touristic season by breaking these deadlocks, which have been reported worldwide,” Frédéric Valletoux, the CRT’s president, explained.