By Lale Arikoglu. Photos: Getty.
Well, it’s happened. Article 50 has been triggered by British Prime Minister Theresa May, officially beginning a two-year process that will end with Britain leaving the European Union. In perhaps what is a gesture of goodwill, then, London announced a tourism agreement with Paris on Tuesday that will see the capital cities increase their focus on attracting overseas visitors.
The new partnership is set to hit the ground in 2018, spanning both the tourism and business sectors (the latter dubbed the Paris-London Business Welcome Program), Skift reports. Among proposed initiatives, such as a new effort to boost trade and investment between Paris and London, will be preferential rates on the Eurostar (the train service that takes visitors and commuters between London’s St. Pancras and Gare du Nord in just under two hours) and discounts on accommodations. Current ties between the major tourist destinations go far beyond a high speed train, too: According to the BBC, London has received £2.6 billion ($3.3 billion) from Paris in investment over the past 10 years; Paris, meanwhile, has seen the arrival of 160 London-based companies since 2006, in turn creating a host of new jobs for Parisians, says Skift.
While 51.9 percent of U.K. voters opted to leave the EU, almost 60 percent of Londoners voted to remain. The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, who has been a vocal critic of Brexit since the beginning, is more than aware of this number. At a press conference with his Parisian counterpart Anne Hidalgo earlier this week, Khan extolled the virtues of the close friendship between their two cities. “London and Paris are two of the greatest cities in the world and we have so much to gain from joining forces,” Khan said. “Never underestimate the incredible benefits to be found when major cities do business together. Our great friends in Paris and across the continent are well aware that working closely together remains to our mutual benefit.” Hidalgo, who has been working to combat pollution and make Paris a far greener city, promised that the relationship between her city and London “is a very positive dynamic that the Brexit will not change.”
It remains unclear exactly how travelers will be affected post-Brexit, but guesses have included a drop in international visitors to the U.K., air fares on low-cost carriers like EasyJet going up, and the value of the pound continuing to plummet; and U.K. citizens could have to obtain a visa to travel around Europe. On the flip-side, The Guardian reported today that Britain is predicting a potentially record-breaking number of overseas tourists this summer, thanks, in part, to its weak currency. In other words, stay tuned.
This story originally appeared on Conde Nast Traveler.
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