France: Paris requests ‘rescue fund’ after travel restrictions
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Valérie Pécresse is the President of the Paris Region and has urged the French government to bail out the capital with a fund worth more than £8billion. While US airlines are beginning to see domestic air travel rebound due to the successful vaccination programme, Europe has seen a dramatic fall in flights that have yet to return. French businesses say they are nearing a breaking point as the Paris streets remain void of tourists.
Creperie manager Lucas Trollier told France 24: “One year without tourists in Paris, it’s an unprecedented situation.
“Restaurant owners are pushed to their limits, there’s no other way of saying it.”
In Europe, there have been 64 percent fewer flights since March 2019 as the continent grapples with the pandemic.
Additionally, low-cost flights – typically taken by tourists – have fallen 84 percent since March 2019.
Tourist consultancy Vanguelis Panayotis warned: “It’s of utmost importance that we report tourism in the region especially with the Olympic Games coming in 2024.
“But also because it’s the engine that drives tourism in France.
“Paris is the shop window that advertises tourism in France.”
In 2020, there were 17.5 million visitors to Paris – a far cry from the 51 million who visited in 2019.
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Despite lockdown measures being eased over the summer of last year many countries still limited foreign travel causing havoc for tourist reliant businesses.
Paris, which is Europe’s most visited city, was placed under new lockdown measures earlier this month as ICU wards overflow and cases dramatically rise.
Hospitals were forced to transfer patients via helicopter to other rural medical facilities as doctors struggle with new COVID-19 variants.
Vaccine hesitancy also grows in Europe with the majority of French citizens believing the AstraZeneca vaccine is unsafe to use.
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A recent YouGov poll revealed 61 percent of French respondents believed the AstraZeneca vaccine is unsafe to use – a rise from 43 percent in February.
European heads of state have been blamed for fueling anti-vax sentiments by questioning the effectiveness of the AZ jab.
In Germany, the vaccine has been paused for those under 60 over fears it causes fatal blood clots.
But virologists and medical professionals urge countries to reverse their pause stating hesitancy will kill more people than the blood clot risk.
In the UK, only 9 percent of people believe the AstraZeneca jab is unsafe as over 30 million people have received their vaccine.
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