Nearly a dozen major outdoor events in France have been cancelled out of fear that Muslim migrant jihadists and so-called ‘refugees’ will use them to carry out more attacks like the one in Nice. Events in Paris, Lille, Marseille, Avignon, Collioure, Chambery, and the Riviera resort of Cannes have all been cancelled. Now it’s common to see more soldiers on the beaches than tourists.
UK Daily Mail France, on edge with fears of a new terror attack, continues to cancel festive and sports events for security reasons, including a famous annual flea market in Lille and a European cycling competition in Nice. The Braderie de Lille, which was due to take place on September 3 and 4, was cancelled yesterday by the city’s Mayor, Martine Aubry.
The market draws around a million visitors from around France to the northern city to hunt for bargains and eat mussels, a local delicacy. The European Road Cycling Championships, scheduled for September 14-18, was cancelled by Nice’s Mayor Philippe Pradal.
It comes as the Eiffel Tower in Paris was evacuated by mistake after an employee mistook a safety drill for a real incident. A source told AFP: ‘It was a safety exercise drill, the sort that is done dozens of times a week, which went wrong. One employee thought that it was a real threat and the Eiffel Tower was evacuated.’
Dozens of summer events have been canceled because security cannot be assured despite an additional injection of security forces. Lorries arriving full of goods for the market were the main issue in Lille.
Ms Aubry said: ‘We cannot check them all’ and added she had a ‘moral responsibility’ to cancel the event.
Officials in Nice have said the Bastille Day lorry attack has claimed an 85th victim, a man, Pierre Hattermann, 56 – whose wife and son had died instantly – who has succumbed to his injuries in hospital.
Marseille, France’s second largest city, has cancelled a string of events, including the August 13 flyover of the Patrouille de France air team that streams the French colours through the sky.
UK Daily Mail France’s ailing tourism sector – already reeling from repeated terror attacks in Paris – is suffering a further hit following Thursday’s attack which left 84 people dead in Nice. Many holidaymakers have cancelled bookings they made before the attack, according to a local tourism boss.
The city’s beaches on the Cote d’Azur, one of the biggest draws in the country, reopened under sunny skies on Saturday, but they were drawing far fewer people than they normally do on a warm July afternoon.
France has been the world’s most visited country for years – ahead of the US, Spain, China and Italy – but research and anecdotal evidence suggests holidaymakers are losing confidence and skipping it in favour of destinations where they feel safer.
Tourism Minister Matthias Fekl recently said in an interview with TourMag that the number of hotel nights foreigners spend in Paris is expected to be down around 20 per cent during the peak summer travel period. But that was before the attack in Nice.
‘We’ve had a flood of cancellations since [Thursday] night,’ said Denis Cippoloni, head of the hotel association in Nice.
Georges Panayotis, head of the MKG hotel and tourism consultancy, said the repeated attacks in France were a major cause for concern and will dissuade tourists. He said: ‘This is no longer a classic terrorism situation where a couple of months is enough following an attack for economic activity to recover.’
One major event that draws thousands, is not being scratched: the Feast of the Assumption on August 15 in the pilgrimage site of Lourdes in southern France, with its sanctuary reputed for its curative spring waters. Security plans for Lourdes’ biggest annual event are due to be announced next week.
France has been on edge as it tries to stave off yet another attack. Soldiers have been deployed on the streets to help police and gendarmes, reserves have been called up and intelligence and police officers are receiving and sifting through tips.