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As the most-visited country in the world and with Paris being the most-visited city, France is normally a hub of international tourists. At this point like all tourist destinations, it has been badly hit by the global pandemic. Accordingly, the French government has responded by taking steps to set out a stimulus package, similar to that of many other European countries: 18 billion euros, the equivalent of $19.4 billion, for restaurants, hotels, and other tourism businesses. The package will help replenish funds for business loans and assist with unemployment relief payment for those businesses that have been forced to close.
But one aspect of their proposal, in particular, has sparked the interest of onlookers around the world. In addition to financial aid, the government has also announced its plans to build an online booking platform to rival tourism giants such as Airbnb and Booking.com, and therefore decreasing their direct involvement. Their mission is to, as Bloomberg put it, “revive tourism” and create a system specifically designed for French tourism.
As a collaborative effort between the government and the tourism industry, they aim to wrestle back control from the all-powerful OTAs. But the idea isn’t just to keep funds circulating inside the country. Through the new platform, the French tourism industry hopes to reconnect with customers directly and cut out the middleman.
This brave change in strategy is forecasted to be a particularly wise move considering that, at least until the end of 2020, the majority of the country’s visitors will likely be French. It gives them the industry the flexibility in modifying their focus on the local market. A new platform in a new world of tourism, it makes sense.
It won’t be a quick solution, and those involved in developing and implementing the platform have accepted that it could be months until it is up and running. But this also isn’t a case of looking for a quick fix. The tourism world is currently being inundated with ideas on how to change the face of the industry, but this is the first time we’ve seen a government backing a serious transformation. France is taking on the challenge of developing a new approach to tourism, something worth keeping an eye out for as it could serve as a point of inspiration for the larger global community.
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