An evening in Paris!

The French capital is charming its way to Indian hearts. Paris breached the landmark figure of 300,000 in Indian tourist arrivals in 2011, recording a growth of over 200 per cent in the last decade.

This was revealed by Paul Roll, managing director of the Paris Visitors and Convention Board, who expects the growth in the number of Indian tourists visiting Paris to continue at the same pace of about 12-15 per cent in 2012 as well.

“We normally believe that tourism as a sector grows about twice as fast as the local economy and as India is averaging around seven per cent growth, we could have a 12-15 per cent growth in the arrivals from India,” Roll said.

Accompanied by over 20 players of the private sector of the tourism industry in Paris, he is currently in India for the annual roadshow.

Incidentally, this is the 10th consecutive year that Paris is mounting its roadshow in the country, where the players meet the tour operators and travel agents.

In order to make Indians feel more at home in Paris, Roll says, a number of initiatives have been taken.

“We have been sensitising our private sector players like hotels and restaurants about the specific requirements of Indian visitors like vegetarian food and use of English language. We have seen a lot of improvement in the way our professionals handle the Indian clients,” Roll says.

On the big event in Europe this year, the London Olympics, Roll says even though Paris lost the Olympic host bid to London, it might finally be the winner in a rather different context.

“With Olympics, everything in London will be very expensive and there will be too much of security and other practical problems for the tourists. For us in Paris, August is a traditionally slow month, which means we have even more attractive rates than in other months of the year; so that would definitely make us very attractive for any tourists wanting to visit Europe, but without the hassles of a city that is hosting the Olympics. So I believe this is a real opportunity,” Roll says.