China ‘Discouraging France Trips’

In the wake of the Carrefour boycotts in China comes news that Chinese travel agencies are now discouraging trips to France. BBC reports:

Beijing’s official body is urging tour operators to stop selling holidays to France, the French foreign ministry has said.

The claim comes amid souring relations between the two countries after the Paris leg of the Olympic torch relay.

…”Our embassy in Beijing is currently taking steps with the Chinese authorities to find out the reasons that could have motivated (the move),” said foreign ministry spokeswoman Pascale Andreani.

While strong feelings may be running high in China, French fears are still relatively low, as suggested by an interview with Paul Roll, general director of the tourism office in Paris. The following is a partial CDT translation:

LCI (LCI is a French news network): We have just learned of a boycott of France as a tourist destination by Chinese tour operators, apparently at the request of Beijing (Paris is trying to verify this information). What do you fear will be the effect on tourism in Paris?

Paul Roll: We were expecting 600,000 Chinese in France this year, and there will possibly be some tens of thousands less. A boycott is always negative, especially when it takes a rampant form like this one here: I can’t believe Beijing decided this on its own. But we must also relativize this. Paris is the most desired destination spot for Chinese; it’s a necessary stage, an obligatory passage point of European travel for Asians. …

LCI: Do you foresee a long-lasting boycott?

Roll: I’m not particularly worried for the long term: diplomatic disagreements much more serious than this were resolved very quickly on the touristic front. …

See also a video from France 24.

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