Tourists pose in front of Notre-Dame Cathedral after sunset in Paris, France June 19, 2016. REUTERS/Darren Staples(reuters_tickers)
PARIS (Reuters) - France said on Wednesday it feared a drop in British holiday-makers after the sharp fall in the value of the pound, a factor threatening more damage to a sector suffering from poor weather, strikes and the threat of militant attacks.
France's tourism sector represents between 7-8 percent of its gross domestic product and employs about 2 million people. Visitors from Britain made up the largest number of tourists to the country in 2015 with some 12 million people.
A weak pound could detract British holiday-goers from heading to continental Europe, where many countries use the euro, as the summer season kicks in.
Sterling hit a 31-year low last week due to uncertainty that has followed Britain voting to leave the European Union. It fell on Wednesday <EURGBP=D4> after two days of strong gains.
"The consequences of the fall in sterling after the British referendum were discussed," France's Foreign Ministry, which oversees the tourism portfolio, said after a meeting of various government departments to try to find solutions for the sector.
Foreign tourists had shunned Paris since November's attacks that killed 130 people, but the impact has been worsened by weeks of sometimes violent street protests against planned labour reforms and torrential rain that caused the Seine river to burst its banks in May.
Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said the rebound in tourist numbers to Paris had been slow since November, with arrivals still down 5 percent in the first 10 days of July compared to the same period in 2015.
However, air traffic in other cities was up 11 percent as they benefited in particular from the Euro 2016 soccer tournament, he said.
"We cannot allow ourselves to let the threat of a new drop (in tourism) to prevail or even a stagnation of activity," Ayrault said. "There are questions on the impact on the sector of other geopolitical developments such as the British referendum," he said.
(Reporting By John Irish)