Travel agents scramble to adjust itinerary of Golden Week tours to Paris after Notre Dame fire


Japanese travel agencies have received many calls from people planning to visit Paris during the 10-day Golden Week holiday period, specifically asking about the massive fire that broke out at the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, one of France’s symbolic UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The 850-year-old cathedral is a well-known tourist destination for Japanese people and many of those who were planning to visit the architectural, cultural, and religious landmark during Golden Week are devastated by Monday’s fire, travel agents said.

This year’s extended Golden Week holiday, primarily to celebrate the 2019 imperial succession, has created a surge in overseas travel for Japanese tourists. Major travel agencies said Tuesday they were trying to ease concerned travelers who had their sights set on seeing Notre Dame, Sankei Shimbun reported.

According to Japan’s leading travel agency, JTB Corp, travel tours to Europe have been particularly popular this Golden Week. Many tours to France had incorporated Notre Dame on their itinerary. However, a JTB spokesperson said the company is looking to find alternative sightseeing spots.

In addition, Nippon Travel Agency (NTA) is confirming the safety of 78 tourists who were in Paris when the fire engulfed the historic monument, but French authorities said no casualties had been reported. Furthermore, NTA has begun considering how to handle the 1,250 tour group participants who have registered for a tour of Paris during Golden Week. A spokesperson said tour groups will probably still want to have a look at the cathedral, although French officials are not allowing any members of the public to get too close.

Meanwhile, major travel agency H.I.S. Co says the reservation status for Paris since the beginning of January has risen to eighth most popular from 11th place last year. While some officials were concerned over the sudden change of tourist destinations due tot he Notre Dame fire, the main tour plan offered at H.I.S. was not “significantly impacted” as it does not specifically decide which landmarks to visit.

Following news of the fire, many Japanese people expressed their sadness online with posts ranging from “I’m terribly sad because I’ve always wanted to visit the cathedral” to “I’m in shock and distressed.” Within moments of the story breaking, the internet was flooded with posts describing users’ devastation and despair.

Some prospective Japanese tourists to Paris wrote, “Does this mean we are going to have to see the burnt ruins?” and “I want to donate money to help rebuild Notre Dame.”

© Japan Today

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The number of tourists could actually increase like the "disaster tourists" who visit Fukushima.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Wait, are they still advertising tours of the Notre Dame? I doubt entry will be permitted any time soon. They can view it from the outside, good luck getting in.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

I hope they still go anyway, although of course they won't be able to go inside.

Judging from the photo above, the exterior still looks rather beautiful considering that there was just a major fire.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

pfff, all I'm thinking when reading this article is, glad I'm not hopping on an airplane during Golden Week. Good luck with that.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Phew - I was worried that there was no Japanese angle to the fire of Notre Dame.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

Mont Saint Michel is a nice alternative, though a bit too far from Paris.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Yeah, the French all scrambled to solve the problems the Japanese got because of the fire...

6 ( +6 / -0 )

People want to see how much damage before it's rebuilt - so they have a before and an after experience

Just like the Twin Towers after 9/11

1 ( +1 / -0 )

“I’m in shock and distressed.” 

Social media delivering a classic over-reaction again.

It is a beautiful cathedral, but there is still lots and lots to see in Paris. You can even, get this, just sit in a cafe and take in the atmosphere. Enjoy looking at streets full of preserved buildings etc. You learn little from just ticking sights off a list.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Just go and gawk at something else! You're in Paris!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I would suggest the catacombs but I don't want it overrun by tourists if it isn't already. It was pretty interesting walking for miles underground by myself being surrounded by 500 year old skulls and bones.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Pity for those who have their hearts set on Notre Dame but for the others there’s plenty to see in Paris. Many people tune out to the architectural wonders after a while and just look forward to their next feed anyway.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Strange. There is so much to see in Paris besides the beloved Notre Dame. I've been there 50 times or so. I've many friends that live in France, and have also worked in both Paris and Grenoble.

Please go, pay homage to the beautiful cathedral, go to the Musée Dorsey, Le Louvre, Picasso Museum, ride a bateau mouche on the Seine, walk in the Jardin du Luxembourg, go to the top of the Tour Eiffel, enjoy a few the 100's of great restaurants, etc ... ., etc ... . Endless pleasure will always be found in what I consider to be, arguably by some I imagine, the most beautiful walking city in the world.

My wife and I've traveled throughout Europe, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, the UK , Asia, the Pacific Islands, and Australia. Paris est magnifique !

0 ( +1 / -1 )

So much to visit in Paris or quite close (Mont Saint-Michel is so far not many French visit it!)

Chateau de Chantilly, Chateau de Vaux le Vicomte, Les Invalides (best to my eyes), the bridges over the Seine themselves as pieces of art for most, promenade de Saint-Germain en Laye, La Defense, cite medievale de Provins, etc. And so many museums (the Louvres being the best with need to take 2 days at least, otherwise Musee du Bourget for aeronautics, Petit et Grand Palais for sciences of the past, Institut du monde arabe, Musee national d'histoire naturelle. ..),

Further away but a good value, parc zoologique de Beauval

To have fun outside architecture : cueillette de Cergy, Disney Village, France miniature, la Mer des Sables (a sand sea in a park!),..

You won't forget !

Ps : never been in Notre-Dame, but walked by hundreds of time !

For info, ND is the starting point for all roads from Paris.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I would suggest the catacombs but I don't want it overrun by tourists if it isn't already. It was pretty interesting walking for miles underground by myself being surrounded by 500 year old skulls and bones.

Not for people suffering from claustrophobia might i add.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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