Paris at Christmas is one of those bucket list items for tourists.
But if you go this year, you might have to make some adjustments on the fly.
Labor strikes in Europe are fairly common, and Parisians are living through one as we speak. Since Dec. 5, trade unions representing Metro (subway) workers, national and international railway workers, teachers, air traffic controllers and more have intermittently walked out on their respective positions.
At issue is French president Emmanuel Macron’s plan to make changes to the pension plan, a fixture of France’s history that has been generous to workers for decades, if not longer. While so far the walkouts have not been devastating, they nonetheless have been disruptive and annoying.
And they could last into the holidays.
As of Friday the 13th, the RATP transport union will be on strike through December 17, with threats of carrying the protest through the holiday itself. The national train line is operating on a reduced schedule.
According to worldinparis.com, there are scheduled transportation strikes scheduled for Dec. 21-22, Dec. 25, and Dec. 29-29.
The so-called ‘unlimited strikes’ severely impact tourists and residents alike with the ability to get around the city.
Even Air France has been hit as grounds crew have walked off the job.
As Conde Nast noted, however, “Paris is an eminently walkable city, and nearly every attraction is accessible by foot or bicycle under two hours. For those staying in a hotel or an apartment located in the outer arrondissements, use the opportunity to explore locally or plan to wear your most comfortable shoes for a day of walking into the city.”
Tourists should expect to hoof it, in some places, but should also check ahead as to whether popular attractions and museums will be open at regular times.
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Travel Industry Lauds Passage of Paycheck Protection Program Reform Bill
The U.S. Senate passed the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Flexibility Act on Wednesday, sending it to President Donald Trump’s desk for final approval.
The reform bill provides business owners with additional flexibility and more time to utilize loan money and still be forgiven under the PPP established to provide economic relief in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The travel industry has been quick to commend lawmakers. The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) is in full support having advocated for the improvements behind the scenes.
“We commend the Senate for passing the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act (H.R. 7010), which would change PPP loan terms—in some cases retroactively—in a number of ways ASTA has advocated for, including five-year loan terms, reducing the requirement that 75 percent of the loan must go to payroll to get forgiveness, allowing forgivable expense over 24 weeks (as opposed to the current eight) and allowing companies to restore headcount without jeopardizing forgiveness by the end of the year (versus the current June 30),” Eben Peck, EVP Advocacy, ASTA, said in a statement.
“While the PPP will remain complex, this bill gives more flexibility to PPP recipients and increases the chances that loans can be fully forgiven,” Peck concluded.
The U.S. Travel Association also wasted no time praising the decision, calling it an “important step.”
“The PPP changes passed by both chambers are another important step in providing relief to small businesses that otherwise will not survive until the economic recovery phase,” added U.S. Travel’s Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Policy Tori Emerson Barnes. “The modification to the portion of funds that can be used for non-payroll expenses is especially crucial to travel-related small businesses, which have comparatively high capital overhead but virtually zero incoming revenue because of the necessary measures in place to stem the spread of the pandemic.”
U.S. Travel still believes that there’s more work to be done to ensure a successful recovery. The organization is encouraging officials to extend PPP eligibility to non-profit and quasi-governmental entities responsible for driving local and regional economic development.
“Like the businesses they serve, the finances of these non-profits have been devastated by the standstill in travel and tourism, and the moment of recovery will be moot unless they can keep their lights on to take advantage of the return in travel demand,” Barnes stated. “We urge leaders to move urgently to enact the next phase of coronavirus response legislation, which is absolutely vital to the future of the travel and tourism industry, and to prioritize expanding eligibility to those most hard hit by this pandemic such as destination marketing organizations.”
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