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UK travellers remain loyal to France despite attacks

French tourist board hails UK as most resilient market for France in face of terrorist incidents in country

Pictured: Atout France deputy director UK & Ireland Agnes Angrand

French tourist board Atout France has hailed the UK as the most resilient market for France in the world in the face of terrorist attacks.

While figures have shown international visitors from long haul destinations are hesitating to head to France, Atout France says that the UK is remaining loyal despite the string of recent terrorist incidents in the country.

Agnes Angrand, Atout France deputy director UK & Ireland, said: “The figures are highly impacted by the effect we’ve seen on long haul markets. It does not really reflect the resilience of the UK market in face of all of this.

“Figures for Q1 of 2016 show traffic to France out of the UK was only down 4 per cent in comparison to Q1 of 2015, which is remarkable considering the immediate impact of the Paris attacks. Air traffic out of the UK to France - exclusive of Paris - as of July 31 was up 6 per cent year on year. 

“There is no question of being in denial of reality, but the UK - and we can see that from all the support we get from the travel community - is most certainly the most resilient market for France in Europe and in the world.”

She added that in the meetings market there was a slowdown in requests for proposal up until March, but things have been picking up since then. 

Angrand added: “For the congress market, which is essential to Nice for example, there is hardly any loss of business. It is too early to judge, but for the moment in terms of meetings and incentives it’s business as usual. Life is going on! Cancellations have more impacted the leisure market than the business market, especially the day after the attack.

“The Nice Convention Bureau will be coming  to the UK in the autumn; the link between the French Riviera and the British market is historic and long-standing and whatever the circumstances it will prevail.”

Atout France also reached out to UK agencies for feedback regarding business in France following the Nice attack.

Sally Hunt, director of Worldspan, said: “I think it is too early to judge, plus July/August is generally a slightly quieter time in the events business, so we are likely to know more when corporate planners are refocusing on their event activity in September. 

“In general, I do believe that this terrible sequence of terrorist attacks will have a negative effect on leisure, incentive and corporate event business ex UK in France, but not necessarily on EMEA business meetings, pharmaceutical events and congress attendance. I think that any company that has an EU office presence will do business as usual, especially as they also need to demonstrate solidarity with their local staff. Brussels & Germany are obviously also in the same situation right now.”

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