Cheap chest-beating is so unattractive
The always interesting Steven Den Beste gets an approving nod from Glib in Tennessee for gloating over decreased American tourism in France. Of course, Den Beste can be selective with his quotes when he needs to make a point. For example:
Den Beste: There has been a massive decline in American tourism to France, though the magnitude of it is open to dispute. There don’t seem to be any official figures yet (or at least any that have been released which I’ve found) and estimates vary all over the map.
Den Beste then quotes from the article:Figures just released for July show that visitor rates are down by an average of 20 percent on 2002, with the biggest shortfall made up by absent Americans â€” staying away because of the Franco-US rift on Iraq and the falling dollar.
Hotels, restaurants and museums in their main destinations â€” Paris, the Riviera and the World War II landing beaches in Normandy â€” have all reported a big drop in US visitors, especially the coach parties who constitute the largest and most lucrative part of the market.
“Our colleagues on the other side of the Atlantic are no longer programming in France,” lamented Cesar Balderacchi, president of the National Union of Travel Agents, who put the decline in numbers of Americans in the first half of 2003 at a dramatic 80 percent.
Government officials set the figure more optimistically at around 30 percent, noting that last year was itself a high.
Here’s what he didn’t quote that came after the above: While anti-French feeling over President Jacques Chirac’s refusal to endorse the war on Iraq was clearly one factor in the fall, the sharp rise in value of the euro has meant American buying power in Europe has been cut by as much as a third and was an even more powerful deterrent, officials said.
By the same token the number of Japanese and Russians coming to France has also fallen, and all visitors are proving much more careful with their money, according to tourism professionals.
One high-profile victim of the downturn is Euro Disney, the theme park complex east of Paris, which warned Friday that it might not have enough cash to pay its debts, sparking a more than 11-percent plunge in its share price.
The company blamed reluctance by Europeans to travel and recent public sector strikes in France for its financial woes.
July â€” the first month in the summer season in which many in the tourist industry make the bulk of their annual income â€” was badly affected by a succession of other mishaps whose long-term impact remained to be assessed.
A strike over welfare payments by performers and technicians led to the cancellation of the season’s top two arts festivals â€” in the southern towns of Avignon and Aix-en-Provence â€” and cast doubt over many others, doing grievous damage to France’s image as a “terre d’accueil”, or land of welcome.
Here’s another link he provided…and another quote that he didn’t mention:
Iraq is one factor. But Serge Thellier, who has had a souvenir stand on the Ile de la Cite for 43 years, blamed the dollar. “The Americans were like flies round honey in the 1980s when there were 10 francs to the dollar,” he said. “Give me two euros to the dollar and they’ll be back, bin Laden or no bin Laden.”
Call me cynical, but I’m guessing that Mr. Den Beste left these parts out intentionally to try and make his point.
I’m not saying that American tourism isn’t down in France, but I think the reasons are a bit more complex than the newly minted Francophobes would have us believe. The tidal wave of America’s Iraqi war antipathy toward the French, much like the Dixie Chick brouhaha, is more a Fox News creation than a reality. Less a tidal wave…more of an anklesnapper.