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Tourism

From shopping to tourism، French protests hit economy

Monday 10/December/2018 - 09:13 AM
Sada El Balad
edited by: Basant Ahmed
Shops shuttered in the run-up to Christmas، chaos on the roads: France's "yellow vest" protests are dealing a blow to the economy which the finance minister says is no less than a "catastrophe"، Channel NewsAsia reported.

As riots flared in Paris on Saturday، Livio Forte، a tourist from New York، could only watch on as police trucks lined up on the Place Vendome.


The chic square's luxury jewellery shops were boarded up، the diamonds and watches gone from their windows to protect them from looters.

The trip had been intended as a romantic surprise for his wife Carmela's 59th birthday. At least، they joked، it would be a memorable one.

"Everything's closed،" Carmela said.


The couple had planned a trip to Normandy to see the beach where Carmela's father fought in World War II، but ended up cancelling it because of anti-government roadblocks.

The Eiffel Tower، museums، department stores - all closed on what would normally be a bustling Saturday in the run-up to Christmas.

The US embassy had issued a warning to Americans to "avoid crowds" in Paris، while Belgium، Portugal and the Czech Republic advised citizens to postpone trips altogether.


For a third weekend running، shops were looted in the French capital، their windows smashed، cars torched and barricades burned in the streets.


Riots also shook other French cities popular with tourists، including Bordeaux and Toulouse.

"It's a period when commerce is usually brisk، just before Christmas - but this، this is a catastrophe،" Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said as he visited Parisian shopkeepers.

He promised "direct" help for businesses affected، as Emmanuel Macron prepares to address the nation this week in a bid to end the deepest crisis of his presidency.

Clad in their luminous safety jackets، the "yellow vests" show no sign of calling off weeks of protests over rising living costs and accusations that Macron only looks out for the rich.

The government has yet to release an estimate of how much damage the demonstrations have dealt to the economy.

But the central bank's forecast for fourth-quarter growth، released on Monday، will give an early indication.

With tourists reluctant to risk being tear-gassed on a trip to Paris، the National Hotel Chains' Group estimates reservations for the New Year down at least 10 per cent.


Le Maire's ministry estimated last month that large retailers had seen a 15 per cent drop in revenues and small businesses a drop of up to 40 per cent.

"The smaller a business is، the more fragile it is،" Francois Asselin، head of the CPME confederation of small and medium-sized businesses، wrote in the Journal du Dimanche newspaper.



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