Chinese tour group robbed in Paris suburb
TWENTY-SEVEN Chinese tourists were robbed of their luggage and other possessions in a Parisian suburb by at least six men. They sprayed their driver with tear gas while they were loading their belongings onto a bus after checking out from a hotel.
The men, who fled in two cars, also robbed the Italian driver and left two tourists with minor injuries.
The incident took place before dawn on Tuesday at the carpark of the Campanile le Bourget Hotel in the town of Gonesse, about 16.5km north-east of downtown Paris.
The Le Parisien newspaper quoted local police as saying that it was rare that robbers targeted such a big tour group.
The police have not established the value of the goods stolen but said they included cash and electronic products.
According to China's CCTV broadcaster, after the injured were treated, the whole group left for Germany on the same day.
Attacks on Chinese, Korean and Japanese tourists are frequent in the French capital as robbers believe they carry large sums in cash and their suitcases are stuffed with luxury goods purchased in Paris, reported Reuters.
Tourist traffic in Paris has dropped significantly since bloody attacks by Islamist militants in November, leading to sharp declines in sales of luxury goods and business for retailers, hotels and restaurants.
According to the French embassy in Beijing, only 320,000 visas were issued to Chinese travellers in the first half of this year, a year-on-year drop of about 15 per cent, reported Radio France Internationale.
In May, Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo went to Beijing to give assurance that her city had beefed up its security.
CCTV advised Chinese tourists to avoid Gonesse, saying it is in a crime-infested area.
"France's image is now damaged beyond repair," lamented an employee of the Campanile le Bourget Hotel following Tuesday's robbery.