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France set for record number of tourists

tourismPARIS--France is on course to welcome a record number of tourists this year, helping boost sector revenue by about 4 percent, minister for foreign affairs and tourism Laurent Fabius said.
  Revenue from tourism last year represented 7 percent of France's economic activity and brought in revenue of 150 billion euros.
  With the attractions of the capital Paris, its Loire Valley chateaux, Alpine ski resorts, Riviera beaches and gastronomic pleasures, France has been the world's most visited country since the 1980s. But visitors tend to spend less in France than elsewhere, something the government has been trying to change by extending store opening hours and improving service.
  "I hope that the number of tourists will surpass 85 million this year," said Fabius at a press conference, compared with 83.7 million last year. He added that he expected those visitors also to increase the amount they spent.
  The tourist boost comes as welcome news for the government, which has been struggling to reverse high unemployment and boost growth, which stagnated in the second quarter after expanding by 0.7 percent in the first. The weakening of the euro and recent terrorist attacks in North Africa have also helped attract visitors, about one-third of whom come from outside France.
  Fabius said there had been limited impact on tourism to Paris after the attacks on satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in January. And although the numbers of visitors to Paris has remained stable this year, reservations at hotels are actually down, said the minister.
  "Some attribute this drop to the development of AirBnB," said Fabius, referring to a website that helps property owners rent out their homes or rooms to visitors.
  Competition with AirBnB has hurt hotel companies such as Accor and Pierre et Vacances, and has even begun to affect bookings at luxury hotels such as the Plaza and the Bristol.

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