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France urges more South-east Asians to visit ahead of Euro 2016
Months after the 13 November attacks in Paris and ahead of the Euro 2016 football championship, a senior French tourism official reached out to South-east Asians on Friday to encourage them to visit France.
On a promotional visit to Singapore, senior tourism official Matthias Fek said adequate security measures had been put in place following two major terror attacks in Paris last year.
"Zero risk does not exist anywhere in the world anymore, this is today's reality," Fekl, minister of state for foreign trade and tourism promotion, told reporters.
"But we have enhanced security and we will be very careful of course for every event."
Fekl said France was determined to proceed with all scheduled culture and sporting events, including Euro 2016 which runs for a month from 10 June.
"Nothing could be worse than to cancel things. Once the free countries start to cancel things, terrorists have won their fight," he said.
Tourism in France accounts for seven to eight per cent of national wealth and employs two million people, with those from Southeast Asia making up a large portion of the visitors.
Despite last year's attacks in Paris, France remained the world's top tourism destination in 2015, though officials did indicate a drop in the figures in the aftermath of the 13 November attacks. A record 85 million people visited France in 2015, up from 83.8 million in 2014. The government plans to increase this to 100 million by 2020.
Fekl was in Singapore following a trip to Indonesia to drum up tourist interest there. The country's trade promotion agency, Atout France, recently opened offices in Singapore and Jakarta to further tap into the South-east Asian market. French Ambassador to Singapore Benjamin Dubertret said the embassy is speeding up the visa approval process for tourists as part of the effort.