With nearly 90 million tourists visiting France from abroad in 2019 – 29 million visiting Paris alone – and following a year-long health crisis, tourism has reached a watershed moment. That was the reason for the City and Paris and the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau holding the first Sustainable tourism conferences in March. On Thursday 1 July, the City of Paris and the PCVB submitted their findings from these conferences in the presence of a number of Paris tourism stakeholders and representatives of several European tourist capital cities.
Tourism is a key sector for the French economy – it accounts for 7 to 8% of GDP and provides some 2 million jobs. In Paris, it accounts for 15% of all jobs and 13% of GDP. It also needs to carve out a role for itself and assume this role in the ecological transition. Tourism is a showcase for French culture and there are a number of areas in which action can be taken in order to help achieve the aims of the ecological transition.
In a particularly difficult climate – tourism has been very hard hit over more than a year – in March, the City of Paris and the PCVB launched the Sustainable tourism conferences. The idea was to lay the foundations for a positive-impact form of tourism, guiding the whole Paris tourism ecosystem towards a more sustainable, environmentally responsible and local form of tourism… tourism that is more geared towards Parisians, people living in the Paris area and people living in France, or tourism that encourages longer stays. Furthermore, to achieve the carbon neutrality target that Paris has set itself for 2050 as part of its Climate Plan and in compliance with the Paris Agreement, this sector must play its part.
“By holding these Sustainable tourism conferences, the City of Paris is committing to relaunching a more sustainable and environmentally responsible form of tourism, supporting stakeholders operating in the sector”, says Frédéric Hocquard, Paris’ Deputy Mayor in charge of tourism and the capital’s nightlife.
For Jean-François Rial, Chairman of the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau, “Sustainable tourism is no longer a target – it is an absolute necessity”. The Sustainable tourism conferences are an excellent opportunity to share information, engage in debate and get people involved in various innovative initiatives that will have a positive impact on the city, on the lives of its residents and on its visitors”.
The consultation process that was launched in preparation for these Conferences confirms that people living in Paris also wants to create a more sustainable form of tourism. They want to discover – or rediscover – their city, together with its monuments and museums, its unusual venues and itineraries, etc., while at the same time being reminded of how proud they are to live in the world’s number one tourist destination.
Seven working groups made up of nearly 150 stakeholders worked for three months on formulating concrete recommendations. The results were presented as part of three round-table discussions on 1 July. The idea behind the first round-table discussion – “Better experiencing destination Paris” – was to integrate tourism more effectively into the City. A number of initiatives emerged from the discussions – particularly the idea of developing and showcasing itineraries and venues in conjunction with each arrondissement’s town halls to promote Paris in a different way or improve the city’s signage and its night-time transport services for both tourists and residents. The idea is to promote a more local form of tourism, one that does not damage the city’s neighbourhoods, and which benefits both Parisians themselves as well as visitors from outside.
The second one – on “Positive-impact and sustainable Paris” – seeks to reduce the environmental impact of tourist activity in Paris. To take up this major challenge, the emphasis is placed on the transport system. The working groups have proposed speeding up the decarbonisation of the capital’s transport fleets (its coaches and boats, etc.) and looking into the creation of a zero-carbon pass, as well as encouraging visitors to use bikes to get around Paris.
And the purpose of the last round-table discussion was to consider ways of supporting people in the tourism sector through future crises. Setting up an anticipatory committee to coordinate the various initiatives and have a predictive collective overview emerged as one of the flagship proposals. The aim is also to place the emphasis on employment, learning for young people and training to make the tourism sector more appealing. To host major international events, like the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Paris also has to provide its visitors with a high-quality welcome, as well as a smooth and trouble-free experience so that it is a hospitable destination. That means a destination that is accessible and welcoming, and which caters to all people and all their practices in 2021.
To get this political project off the ground, the City of Paris is going to create a showcase for its sustainable tourism facilities at the Émile Anthoine site in the 15th arrondissement in the run-up to the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games. This location, right at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, will welcome visitors from Paris and beyond, as well as showcasing our tourism packages and supporting professionals as they make the ecological transition.