November 29, 2018 / 1:23 PM / 10 days ago

Champs-Elysees protests may cost Paris hotels 10 million euros - MKG

PARIS (Reuters) - Violence last Saturday on Paris’s famous tourist avenue the Champs-Elysees during protests against rising fuel prices is likely to cost hotels around the city at least 10 million euros (8.90 million pounds), research firm MKG said.

A protester is seen next to a burning barricade during a "Yellow vest" protests against higher fuel prices, on the Champs-Elysees in Paris, France, November 24, 2018. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Police fired tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets at thousands of protesters who trashed restaurants and shop-fronts and set wheelie bins ablaze on the Champs-Elysees.

Demonstrators have called for a third weekend of protests there this Saturday as well, so the likely hit for hoteliers may climb.

MKG said on Thursday that its estimate of lost revenues was the result of hotel bookings that had been cancelled following the clashes between protesters and police forces.

For more than a week now, ‘yellow vest’ protesters have blocked roads across France and impeded access to some fuel depots, shopping centres and factories in protest against fuel tax hikes which they say have eroded their spending power.

“Images showing riot scenes on the world’s most beautiful avenue and broadcast around the world led a number of tourists planning to come to Paris in December to cancel their trip,” said MKG.

“Most hotels have had booking cancellations for at least one day in December, or a revenue shortfall of up to 20 percent,” it added.

Most of the cancellations involved weekend bookings and those from people who had planned to spend New Year in Paris.

Separately, the GNI union - which represents the hotel, cafe and restaurant industries - estimated that their sector’s revenue fell 40-50 percent last weekend, on a year-on-year basis in France.

WARNING FROM FINANCE MINISTER

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said earlier this week that the protests would have a “severe impact” on the economy, although it was too early to quantify the effect.

The French retailers’ federation warned on Thursday that this would be “disastrous” for their revenues, which fell 35 percent on Nov 17 during the first weekend of protests in the capital and by over 20 percent on Nov 24.

The French hotel sector appears otherwise to be set for a strong set of figures for 2018.

MKG said on Thursday that before the Champs-Elysees unrest, hoteliers in the Paris region had seen occupancy rates come back up to and even exceed 2014 levels.

Tourist numbers had dropped after a wave of deadly attacks by Islamist militants in France in 2015 and 2016 that killed more than 200 people, but visitors have since flocked back.

Tourism counts for more than 7 percent of France’s gross domestic product and employs about 2 million people, and France is targeting 100 million foreign tourists by 2020.

Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Hugh Lawson

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