PARIS -- The
violence that has shaken the suburbs here and other French cities
may be causing Americans to think twice about travel to France, but
only a few have canceled trips to one of the worlds most popular
travel destinations, travel companies said.
We expect to have
some cancellations, but mostly we have had inquiries, said Harry
Dalgaard, president of Avanti Destinations, a Portland, Ore.-based
tour operator that is a subsidiary of French-owned Rail
Weve been assured
by our suppliers and transfer and sightseeing companies that they
are operating normally and that central Paris is fine. Clients have
to make a decision. If they feel comfortable, they should
As the unrest
spread from the northern suburbs of Paris to cities throughout
France, with angry mobs setting fire to buildings and vehicles, the
State Department issued an alert, warning U.S. travelers to avoid
areas where riots have occurred.
It added that
travelers using Charles de Gaulle Airport should be aware that
train service between the airport and Paris runs through an
affected area and has occasionally been disrupted. Travelers should
rely instead on airport buses or taxis to downtown
French Ministry of Tourism sought to reassure travelers.
In a statement,
it said, The violence has not affected tourist sites or areas
frequented by tourists. At this time, we are not concerned about
the tourism situation in France. An inquiry by the tourism office
suggests that foreign tourists are not canceling their reservations
in significant numbers.
the French consulates vice consul and press attache in New York,
said, We do not believe there have been many cancellations because
the areas where tourists or business travelers go have not been
In 2004, 3
million Americans visited France, and the country is still
projecting an increase of 10% more travelers in 2005, said a
spokeswoman in the French tourist office.
specializing in France said the country only recently regained
ground after a tough year in 2003 when travel was down due to
tensions between the U.S. and France over the Iraq war.
Now, they are
again concerned about a potential impact on their businesses,
especially if the violence spreads and continues.
president of Enchanted France, a Los Angeles-based tour operator,
said, Its really a slow period right now and people are not yet
looking and planning for summer, so we havent seen much of an
impact and no cancellations.
added that clients who are looking to travel to France for the
holidays are taking their time to decide.
Garnier, manager of France Vacations of Chatsworth, Calif., said he
has fielded many client inquiries about the violence but has
received no cancellations. But few new bookings have been made
since rioting began, he said.
It could be a
variety of factors. Its a slow time of year anyway, he
Betsy Stegeman, a
France specialist at the Travel Source, a Falmouth, Mass., travel
agency, said none of her clients has canceled France trips, but
several in the planning stages adopted a wait-and-see
Even if the
disturbances remain in areas not frequented by tourists, there will
be a perception that it is not safe to travel to that country, she
suggested that the people who travel in low season, many of them
veteran, sophisticated travelers, may be less likely to cancel
based on violent incidents.
travelers also seem to have grown less fearful about traveling,
even in areas where there have been disturbances, several people
said, citing little fallout in travel this summer after the
bombings in central London.
People seem to
have adapted and recognize that were in a different era and we have
to expect some disruptions, said Dalgaard.
reporter Laura Del Rosso, send e-mail to [email protected].