PARIS: Chinese police officers will join their French counterparts in patrolling some of Paris’ main tourism spots this summer as France looks to encourage more visitors from the Asian nation to boost its revenues.
France welcomes some 1.4 million Chinese tourists each year and sees doubling that number as a way to slash its trade deficit by about ¤2bn. Each Chinese visitor spends an average ¤1,500 per visit and local and Chinese media have carried reports that they have been targeted by muggers.
“The details on these Chinese police officers have not been finalised, but they should arrive some time in June,” an Interior Ministry source said.
“It’s more for the symbol than the policing.”
“Tourism is one of the sectors where we can create jobs,” Fabius said in television interview late on Tuesday.
Chinese tourists are the second biggest group of visitors to France after Americans. Fabius has already cut visa approval times for Chinese citizens to 48 hours, which has resulted in a 40 percent rise year on year in applications.
However, Chinese tourism associations complain that their citizens are increasingly targeted in Paris because of the belief they are more likely to carry cash than other tourists.
Jo Huangu, a 36-year-old Chinese tour guide accompanying a group of Chinese tourists outside the landmark Parisian department store Galerie Lafayette, said he thought the initiative would reassure his fellow citizens.
“It’s a good thing because I’ve heard many times about Chinese being robbed,” he said. “The attitude of the French police is that they don’t think it’s a big deal...” REUTERS
so hopefully this will make them work well with the Chinese.”
Fabius, who will sign a deal with online travel agent C-Trip
to promote France as a destination while in China, acknowledged
more needed to be done.
“Our policemen will ensure safety, but if there can be a
psychological measure to help reinforce things then why not?
They love France, but France must welcome them well. (They) have
a lot of cash on them ... so there has to be safety and we still
have things to do to ensure that,” Fabius said.
France’s trade deficit, which hit a record of 74 billion
euros ($102 billion) in 2011 has fallen to about 61 billion
euros but remains one of the starkest signs of French firms’
loss of competitiveness on international markets.
Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Paris in March to mark
the 50 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Recognition of the People’s Republic of China by France in 1964,
earlier than many Western countries, forms part of France’s
claim to a special relationship.
Nevertheless, France trails far behind Germany on the trade
front, accounting for just 1.2 percent of Chinese imports
compared with 4.8 percent.
(Editing by Mark John and Andrew Roche)