France Tourism Officials: Bookings Up in Q1 2017; Eiffel Tower Glass Wall Necessary
More U.S. travelers are headed to France this year. According to Anne-Laure Tuncer, director, USA, for Atout France, the French Tourism Development Agency, bookings to France are up 20 percent for the first quarter of 2017 over 2016 figures. The figures were shared in a meeting with the travel press in New York City Thursday with Tuncer and Matthais Fekl, the country's minister of state for foreign trade, the promotion of tourism and french nationals abroad. Minister Fekl revealed that though final numbers for overall visitors to France were not yet official, the country welcomed approximately 82.5 million visitors in 2016, a drop from the 2015 record high of 85 million. Officials attributed the decrease to the late 2015 Paris attacks, followed by the terrorist attack in Nice last July.
One of the topics discussed was the French government's recently approved plan to build a bulletproof glass wall around the Eiffel Tower. When asked about the controversial measure, which critics fear will diminish the landmark's tourist appeal, Minister Fekl said, "Today there are [metal] fences there that are not beautiful; the glass perimeter is part of a general reorganization to minimize risk. It's a good way to protect tourists and Parisians without spoiling the view."