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French Tourism Companies Want Special Police Force Amid Safety Fears

  • Reuters

FILE - French CRS policemen patrol as tourists walk past in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Aug. 20, 2016.

FILE - French CRS policemen patrol as tourists walk past in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Aug. 20, 2016.

France's tourism sector on Tuesday urged French authorities to set up a special police force in Paris to fight crime targeting tourists as safety fears curb the number of visitors to the French capital.

Foreign tourist arrivals to France could fall 4 to 5 percent this year following Islamic militant attacks and repeated robberies against Asian tourists, warned Alliance 46.2, a group representing firms that rely on foreign visitors.

Its members include department store chain Galeries Lafayette and holiday group Club Med and AccorHotels.

"The image of France has deeply deteriorated, and it's likely that 2017 will still feel the impact. The recovery may therefore be long," it said.

An armed robbery against reality TV star Kim Kardashian on Monday only exacerbates the situation.

FILE - French police officers stand outside the residence of Kim Kardashian West in Paris, Oct. 3, 2016, after she was robbed at gunpoint Sunday..

FILE - French police officers stand outside the residence of Kim Kardashian West in Paris, Oct. 3, 2016, after she was robbed at gunpoint Sunday..

The decline in visitor figures, if confirmed, would be the steepest in 40 years and put up to 30,000 jobs at risk in the struggling French tourism sector, the statement said.

Foreign tourists have avoided France since Islamic State gunmen killed 130 people in an attack in Paris last November.

On July 14, a gunman drove a truck into crowds celebrating Bastille Day in the Riviera city of Nice, killing 86.

FILE - Investigators continue to work at the scene near the heavy truck that ran into a crowd at high speed killing scores who were celebrating the Bastille Day, July 14 national holiday on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France, July 15, 2016.

FILE - Investigators continue to work at the scene near the heavy truck that ran into a crowd at high speed killing scores who were celebrating the Bastille Day, July 14 national holiday on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France, July 15, 2016.

Repeated robberies against foreign tourists, notably Asian tourists, have also added to safety worries, Alliance 46.2 said.

The tourism sector represents 7 to 8 percent of France's gross domestic product and employs about 2 million people.

The French government last month pledged more aid to the sector, bringing to 10 million euros its contribution to a campaign to promote the country abroad.

France is the most-visited country in the world, with almost 85 million foreign tourists last year. France is still targeting 100 million foreign tourists by 2020.

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