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French Tourism Industry Rebounds After Terrorist Attacks

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

A lot of people love Paris. Paris is often cited as the most visited city in the world, but tourism dropped by 3 million people last year in the wake of those 2015 terror attacks in the city. Tourism is on the rebound this year, though. And the French government has plans to make sure it stays that way. Jake Cigainero reports from Paris.

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EDOUARD PHILIPPE: (Speaking French).

JAKE CIGAINERO, BYLINE: French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe calls tourism a national treasure. The country expects 89 million tourists this year and has a goal of 100 million by the end of the decade. That would boost the French economy with 50 billion euros.

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PHILIPPE: (Speaking French).

CIGAINERO: The prime minister told a press conference that citizens of 10 countries, including Russia, India and Indonesia, will be able to get tourist visas within 48 hours.

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PHILIPPE: (Speaking French).

CIGAINERO: This will make it easier to market France, Philippe says, to countries with a reservoir of tourists who want to come more quickly and more frequently.

Rakesh Adlakha, from New Delhi, is taking in the sweeping view of the Eiffel Tower at Trocadero. He thinks the new visa process will encourage more Indians to come to Paris.

RAKESH ADLAKHA: Of course, the decrease in the time to get visa will increase the number of tourists because, I suppose, normally, it takes them a couple of weeks to get a visa. But if it is 48 hours, definitely, it will help boost the tourism.

CIGAINERO: India's expanding middle class makes it an attractive target for French tourism after China, which is number one.

Kashal Gupta and his wife, from New Delhi, got their French visas in five days. That also gives them entry to other countries in Europe's open-border Schengen zone. And that, he says, makes it much more attractive for Indian tourists.

KASHAL GUPTA: It's a comparably shorter span of time if you compare it to America or U.K. So it's much easier for the Schengen visa for us in India.

CIGAINERO: Making France more accessible to tourists likely isn't just for economics. It also can't hurt Paris in its hopes to host the Summer Olympics either. Since its only rival, Los Angeles, agreed to host in 2028, Paris is likely to be home to the Olympic Games in 2024. For NPR News, I'm Jake Cigainero in Paris.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE AMERICAN DOLLAR SONG, "CAROUSEL") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.