French Seaside Town Residents Concerned Migrants Scaring Off Tourist Business

Sudanese migrants wait or sleep on the side of a road in Ouistreham, near Caen, northwestern France on October 5, 2017. Migration is a hot button issue in Europe and politicians are under pressure to bring down the number of asylum seekers after hundreds of thousands of migrants flooded the …

Business owners and residents in the northern French commune of Ouistreham are worried that tourists may not come to the seaside resort, which could crush local businesses, due to the presence of over 150 migrants sleeping rough on the streets.

Many of the business owners see economic ramifications for the town of 9,500 from the presence of the migrants with local MP Christophe Blanchet, a member of French President Emmanuel Macron’s La République En Marche! (LREM) saying, “We are on the edge of the abyss,” French news website reports.

According to the Collective for the Assistance to the Migrants of Ouistreham (CAMO), a group which work with migrants in the town, between 120 and 150 migrants sleep on the streets or in the nearby woods with the majority of them coming from Sudan.

The group said that migrants choose the town because of the various ferries which depart for the UK and many hope to sneak on board them and that most came to the area following the dismantling of the notorious Calais Jungle migrant camp by the French government.

Last October, the town’s security head called for help in dealing with the migrant issue claiming that the situation was deteriorating and that many residents were harassed by the migrants and did not feel safe.

Mayor of the town Roman Lease said that many employers are having a hard time holding onto staff because of the migrants and a representative of the local business association said the stories of migrants had tarnished the reputation of the town.

“Between December and February, I counted in the press 103 articles on the subject of migrants in Ouistreham. The city has been stigmatised. We have feedback from customers declining a reservation saying that they come to Ouistreham as a vacation spot, which no longer corresponds to the image we send out of our resort today!” the representative said.

The case is not the first time the presence of illegal migrants on the streets has hurt a business. In Paris, an art museum was forced to close due to a lack of visitors as a result of a makeshift migrant camp that was erected nearby.

 Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at) 



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