Paris shooting: New scare for French tourism

Tourists flock to Spain, Portugal, to avoid terrorism risk
Tourists flock to Spain, Portugal, to avoid terrorism risk

France's status as a tourist magnet took another hit Friday after a man wielding a machete was shot in Paris.

French authorities have opened a terror investigation after the man, who rushed a group of soldiers, was shot in an underground plaza that adjoins the Louvre museum.

The incident follows a string of high-profile terrorist attacks that have deterred tourists from visiting the country, including a summer attack in Nice that left at least 85 people dead.

France has been in an official state of emergency since the November 2015 attacks in Paris, which left at least 130 people dead.

The latest data from the UN's World Tourism Organization show international visitor numbers to France fell by about 5% in the first nine months of 2016. If travelers continue to shun France in favor of other destinations, it could soon be overtaken by the United States as the world's most popular tourist destination.

Traveler spending in the country also slumped 6.6% in 2016 following a drop of 5.4% in 2015, according to preliminary data from the UNWTO. Spending in 2016 is expected to be significantly lower than its recent peak of $58 billion in 2014.

paris louvre security shooting
France has been in an official state of emergency since the deadly Paris attacks in November 2015.

Paris is among the five most visited international cities in the world with more than 15 million international tourists each year, according to research firm Euromonitor International.

And the Louvre, with its famed glass pyramid entrance, is among the most popular museums in the world.

However, Louvre attendance has fallen by 21% over the past two years. Just 7.3 million people visited the museum in 2016 compared to 9.3 million in 2014.

Museum officials say the decline is "primarily due to the consequences of the terror attacks in 2015 and 2016 and to the museum's four-day closure during the flooding of the Seine in early June of 2016."

The Louvre was in lock-down mode following the attack. It said it would reopen on Saturday.

Related: Barcelona trying to tame tourism crunch

The latest incident is especially bad news for Parisian hotels, which have been offering deals to lure in travelers.

About 45% of tourism spending in the city goes towards accommodation, a higher proportion than any other major tourist destination, according to data from MasterCard.

-- Laura Goehler, Lindsay Isaac and Laura Smith-Spark contributed to this report.

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