France unveils 18 bln euro boost for tourism sector

France’s tourism sector doesn’t normally need much help.

It’s the most-visited country in the world, drawing nearly 90 million foreign holidaymakers in 2019.

The famous sights sell themselves.

Not right now though.

On Thursday (May 14) France unveiled a boost for the sector valued at 18 billion euros, or about 19.4 billion dollars.

With 95% of the country’s hotels closed, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe says the government has to step in.

Measures include 1.3 billion euros in direct cash injections by state banks.

Smaller holiday businesses will be able to get grants of up to 10,000 euros.

There will also tax exemptions, including a break from social security payments.

Financial support for furloughed workers will continue until at least the end of September.

Hotel chains like Accor - owner of the Sofitel and Ibis brands - have suspended almost all work.

In contrast, France is looking to wind down such support for other sectors as lockdowns ease.

The government also hopes to reopen restaurants in less affected areas from June 2.

Though hard-hit areas like Paris will have to wait longer.

The prime minister calls rescuing tourism a ‘national priority’.

No surprise when it accounts for almost 8% of the country’s economy.