The American Pass Will Bring ‘Em Back
Friends of France, I am overwhelmed by your desire to help France solve the American Tourist Dilemma (is that what we should call it?). I have never received so many letters about any one topic in the two-and-a-half years Parler Paris has existed — literally hundreds. And yes, I read every single one and yes, every single one got passed to the l’Office de Tourisme (who is likely cursing me at this moment for bombarding his in-box! :-).
You know I’m just joking — in fact, this affords the office an opportunity to really try to understand the hearts and souls of Americans, very difficult to do from the other side of the cultural divide.
(For those of you who missed yesterday’s newsletter, don’t despair, you can read it by visiting /parlerparis/issues/pparis2-3-04.html)
Overwhelmingly, Americans would be back if there was an economic incentive. The weak dollar is making the biggest dent on travel — and not only to France, but to any destinations where the currency is stronger.
One reader suggested that the tourist board, hotels and other tour industry services issue an “American-Pass” which converts Euros to Dollars on a one-to-one basis. “This same technique is used in Florida for enticing Canadians to travel south during the cold winter months. It is quite successful.” This is an idea to love, but can the tour industry afford to give up 25% of its profits? And the tourist board tells me that it is very difficult and requires time to organize the industry in this way — in some sort of unified force.
The good news is that today, the euro is down from the highs we’ve experienced these past couple of months — (http://www.xe.com) 1 Euro = $1.22172. Not great, but encouraging, and for those of us living here on U.S. greenbacks, we’re feeling the pain since this is home, not vacation. On the flip side of that, however, is that for those of us who own property in France, hit’s getting more valuable by the moment and having assets in euros is a hedge against the weak dollar.
I’ve been concerned that the “Merci” campaign will backfire. “My first thoughts while reading about the l’Office de Tourisme ‘Merci’ communications campaign is that it will reignite the negative feelings that some Americans have against France and potentially remind many that France did not support Bushs war in Iraq.”
Thank goodness, though, many of you won’t let any of the deterring factors keep you away: “I am coming for the 8th year!!!!! I will return no matter how many hoops we have to go through.”
A few readers poking fun at ourselves: “Well, if one were to literally swallow what the marketers and media here in the U.S. have annoyingly and unremittingly latched on to, anything that uses the words “low carb” would have Americans lining up to buy tickets to Paris, LOL (laugh out loud)…”
And another reader paraphrased what one famous Parisian literary character said, “Any American tourist who can be discouraged from visiting Paris, should be.”
Again, I joke…but in all honesty, your letters were filled with valuable suggestions and true insight into the make-up of the American Francophile. Let’s hope it helps and that Paris will see your smiling faces again in a big way very soon.
A la prochaine…
Editor, Parler Paris
E-mail: [email protected]
P.S. Bay Area folks — I’ll be talking about “What It’s Like to Be a Single American Female Living in France” on Thursday, March 18th, 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. at the Baker Street Bistro, and seating is limited. Sign up with Paris-Expat.com, by visiting /frenchproperty/conference/paris-expat-eve.html And if you haven’t already reserved for the dinner and lecture with Thirza Vallois Saturday, March 20th, do it now! Visit /frenchproperty/conference/LIFhome.html for the details.