by Han Qian
PARIS, Nov. 22 (Xinhua) -- The Paris-Ile-de-France region must go to attract Chinese tourists, according to Francois Navarro, general director of the Regional Tourism Committee (CRT) Paris-Ile-de-France.
Paris-Ile-de-France, also known as the Parisian Region, is one of the 18 regions in France.
In an interviewed with Xinhua, Navarro said after a record year of 2015 which saw 1.2 million Chinese tourists welcomed in Paris--Ile--de--France, the region suffered a decline by 20 percent in attendance over the first nine months of 2016.
One of the main reasons for the decline is the fear of Chinese tourists about the security situation in France, he explained.
The attractiveness of Paris--Ile--de--France which is one of the most popular destinations of Chinese tourists compared to the rest of France, is at stake following the 2015 attacks.
"The attacks are not only the explanation for this drop in attendance observed in 2016, of course they have a great impact, but security issue, especially pickpockets, as well as cleanliness, are also aspects on which we must do better,"said Navarro.
Several measures have been taken by the CRT Paris--Ile--de--France, including a visit to the Paris police headquarters at the request of Chinese tour operators in partnership with the French authorities.
"We organize visits to the video surveillance centers of police stations in Paris, which allows to reassure the Chinese clientele they see the surveillance device deployed,"said Navarro.
In the difficult context, on Nov. 7 last year, the French government announced a support plan with approximately 42 million euros (44.6 million U.S. dollars), of which 15 million euros would be dedicated to strengthening the safety of tourists, especially in Paris--Ile--de--France.
The CRT Paris--Ile--de--France will also benefit in part from a national promotion and communication plan with 10 million euros.
In addition, six measures were announced by Valerie Pecresse, president of Paris--Ile--de--France, on Oct. 30, to revitalize regional tourism with the implementation of "tourism volunteers", the CityPass, the site "Welcome to Paris Region"; the creation of mobile police stations to allow a faster filing of complaint in case of being stolen; the improvement of the reception in foreign languages and a promotion campaign of unprecedented scale.
Asked about the profile of Chinese tourists, Navarro explained that individual travel has been a booming phenomenon in the past five to six years.
A number of 63.3 percent of Chinese tourists coming to Paris--Ile--de--France region in 2016 travelled individually, said the latest study of the CRT Paris--Ile--de--France.
"These new customers are younger, more independent and prefer authentic trips to Paris by going to typical French restaurants and experiencing the French lifestyle,"analyzed Navarro.
The lending of a pocket wifi box on arrival at the airport and the creation of a CRT Paris--Ile--de--France account on Wechat,a popular messenger app in China, are also among the measures put in place by CRT Paris--Ile--de--France to attract more Chinese tourists.
For Navarro, efforts must also be made to improve images."Images of streets, also of transport, which are not always easy to access for tourists," he said.
Navarro told Xinhua that he will go to two major cities in China in late November, "We hope to attract 5 million Chinese tourists in 10 years, five times more than in 2015." (1 euro = 1.06 U.S. dollars)