Asian tourists have been scared away from Paris by the plague of pickpockets who target them. According to Jean-François Zhou, President of the Chinese Association of Travel Agencies in France, the perception of insecurity in France has turned them instead to Russia, which they perceive as safe.
Chinese tourists to Paris
Chinese tourists to Paris, Zhou said, “are robbed in the Palace of Versailles, at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, in front of their hotel, descending buses … In high season, there is not a day without tourists being assaulted. I saw an 80-year-old man seriously injured because he was trying to resist thieves. Women pushed, fall and have their bag stolen with all their papers … This created a panic on Chinese social networks. The Chinese began to turn away from France since last year.”
Paris and Marseille are the French cities most avoided by Chinese, Japanese, and Korean travelers.
An article in Le Parisien states “The problem is that the police are not supported by justice. Often, these offenders are released within a few hours, or the sentence is not proportionate.”
In October of 2014, Bob and I watched the arrest and jailing of a pickpocket. We happened to find the same man the very next morning on the loose in the subway. “The police arrest them regularly then see the same faces on the streets and in the Metro a day later. Frustrated, the police soldier on,” I wrote then.
“In 2016, there were 1.6 million Chinese tourists to Paris compared to 2.2 million in 2015!” Zhou said. “The decline is 39% of Japanese and 27% of Koreans. Our tourists have turned to Russia, which is less attractive but at least it is a safe country. For Putin, it is an economic windfall.
“I have been in France for twenty-five years, and I myself have seen the decline of France in terms of security. Before, the Chinese operators deplored the insecurity in Italy, today it is France and more particularly Paris and Marseilles which we speak of. There are many regions in France where tourism can be leisurely pursued, but Paris is ranked No. 1 in Europe in terms of the increase in delinquency.”
In January of 2017 in a Paris hotel parking lot, six thieves laid in wait for a bus to arrive returning Chinese tourists from a shopping excursion. As the shoppers descended the bus laden with purchases, the thieves assaulted them and grabbed their bags. The six thieves were all in their 20s, all had been previously jailed, and all lived in the Seine-Saint-Denis district of Paris which is commonly referred to as a no-go zone. Seine-Saint-Denis is a majority Muslim, majority immigrant district.
This mass raid on Chinese shoppers’ buses had become a new pattern, storming relaxed and burdened tourists on the threshold of their hotels—an ostensibly safe and secure place.
The thieves are not too clever. Have they not heard of overfishing? They prey on their favorite target and as a result, their favorite target stops visiting.