In spite of terrorism and political changes, two major cities in Europe are teaming up to promote themselves to international visitors.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, have announced plans for a new business and tourism collaboration aimed at attracting international visitors to both cities and helping companies based in London and Paris to expand into new international markets.
The agreement, which the two cities said marks the first time London and Paris will jointly showcase themselves to overseas visitors, comes just one day before the UK government triggers Article 50, beginning the formal process of withdrawing the UK from the European Union.
That process, “Brexit,” came about as a result of last summer’s referendum in the UK, when citizens of the country voted to leave the UK by a margin of 52 percent to 48 percent. That decision sparked a plunge in the value of the pound that has resulted in a strong increase in visitation to the country over the past few months, as travelers have flocked to the UK to take advantage of comparatively lower prices caused by the favorable exchange rate. In fact, London set a new overnight visitation record in 2016, with 56 million overnight stays.
At the same time, visitation fell to Paris following the 2015 terrorist attacks at a Bataclan theater. According to a study by Allianz Global Assistance of travel to Paris over the 2016 winter holidays, the city saw a 12.8 percent decline in travelers during that period. Tourism figures for the full year 2016 are not yet available. Similarly, tourism figures for London following last week’s attack outside Westminster Palace are not yet available.
The two cities said that the new joint collaboration will launch in 2018, focusing on key drivers for international visitation to both cities, such as culture and heritage, and combining the resources of VisitLondon.com and Parisinfo.com.
“London and Paris are two of the greatest cities in the world and we have so much to gain from joining forces,” said The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, in a written release announcing the new project. “Never underestimate the incredible benefits to be found when major cities do business together. Our great friends in Paris and across the continent are well aware that working closely together remains to our mutual benefit."
The Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, said, "Paris and London share common values and willpower. We want to be attractive to companies all over the world. Since the election of Sadiq, our two cities have been working better together. We are developing new exchanges and new projects. All these initiatives will create employment, activity and economic growth. It is a very positive dynamic that the Brexit will not change."