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AUTO TOURISTS IN FRANCE.

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

AUTO TOURISTS IN FRANCE.

The New York Times
November 21, 1909

Conservative Estimates Place Number of Visitors at 24,000.

With the approach of Winter and the resulting cessation in motor car touring, one of the daily newspapers of Paris has issued a resume of the touring season.  By securing the number of triptychs or customs passports issued by the various clubs and touring associations, and estimating from other sources, it is made clear that the present season has seen more Americans touring France than ever before, the paper saying:

There are so many doorways into France that it is practically impossible to determine accurately the number of automobilists who annually pass through for the purpose of touring over republican highways.  Such figures as are available, however, show that the touring season just closed brought a larger number of automobile visitors from America and England than any preceding year.

It is estimated in the season's resume, counting six people as an average party, that 24,000 motor car tourists from American and England visit France each year, and this estimate is made the basis for a criticism of a French Government proposal for a tax on visiting tourists, the argument being:

It is not always realized what a valuable asset the American and English tourists is to France.  The average automobilist remains one month.  The American rarely stops less than six weeks, while the Englishman is satisfied to "run over" for a much shorter period.  The minimum expenditure of a party of touring automobilists is 50f. a day for each person, this sum representing hotel accomodation, food, upkeep of the automobile, and incidentals, but ignoring amounts spent on works of art, presents, and other items.  On such a basis the 24,000 visitors introduced into France this year by the automobile must have left behind no less than 36,000,000f.  In view of such a train of gold, the proposal of the French Government to impose a tax on visiting automobilists appears to be unsound policy.

That the touring clubs which supply information to tourists and the spare parts and information bureaus of American motor car manufacturers have done away with many of the bothers of tourists in former years is shown conclusively by the following extract from the season's resume:

A feature of the development of foreign touring is the number of Americans who now visit Europe in American automobiles.  Everything has been made so simple by the various touring associations that the American automobilist plans for a tour through Europe with as little fear of difficulties as if he were about to make a run through the Berkshires.

The extent of this movement is shown by the fact that three leading factories have opened Paris touring bureaus in the last two years.  Mr. N. S. Goodsill of Paris says: "The greater number of automobiles are the large six-cylinder models, carrying five to seven persons.  They usually remain in Europe from six weeks to two months, visiting France, Germany, Italy, and England principally.  Intending tourists should obtain membership in the Touring Club of France before leaving New York, and at the same time secure a triptych for passing the French, Italian, or German Customs if they propose to land in one of those countries."

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