France Launches $19 Billion Bailout for Ravaged Tourism Sector
France on Thursday announced measures worth 18 billion euros ($19 billion) to support its tourism sector, which has been hammered by the coronavirus crisis and resulting shutdown in beaches, leisure attractions and hotels.
"Tourism is facing what is probably its worst challenge in modern history," Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told a news conference. "Because this is one of the crown jewels of the French economy, rescuing it is a national priority."
"This very French pleasure, which is at the heart of our identity, to meet up, eat well and have a chat, has been compromised by the lockdown first, and then the conditions of lifting that lockdown," Philippe said.
The prime minister said that with 95% of hotels closed, the government's priority was to avoid bankruptcies and job cuts.
To prevent job losses, the government is reimbursing companies for 70% of the gross wages of workers they put on furlough, and Philippe said that it will extend this measure until at least the end of September.
In other sectors the government is now looking at winding this support down as France emerges from a nationwide lockdown.
In April, French hotels company Accor, which runs brands such as Ibis and Sofitel, said it was cutting spending and had placed the bulk of its staff on furlough or unemployment schemes.