Paris, Aug 24 (IANS) The French resort town of Biarritz on the Bay of Biscay has been put under a security lockdown ahead of the G7 Summit slated to begin on Saturday.
Tourists who crowded onto the only remaining open beach, Plage Port Vieux, made their way back to their homes and lodgings on Friday with their identification badges displayed to avoid hassles with the police, reports Efe news.
The city’s merchants and restaurateurs were suffering and though the most optimistic residents say that hosting the summit will boost Biarritz’s international profile, nobody was happy about the disruption to tourism, which accounts for 70 per cent of economic activity.
For every tourist with a camera, there were two cops armed to the teeth.
Le coupe faim, a small restaurant serving crepes and ice cream, sits in a prime seaside location and usually stays open until 2 a.m. during the tourist season. This week, the place has been emptying out by midnight.
“August is the fattest month of the year for merchants,” the eatery’s owner, Michelle Boue, tells Efe. “This is an enormous loss of sales. Everyone is asking: why a G7 summit in August?”
The summit organizers have issued each of the roughly 2,000 accredited journalists who came to Biarritz to cover the event a gift card worth 75 euros ($84) to be used exclusively at restaurants in town.
The stated purpose was to encourage reporters to sample the region’s Basque cuisine, but helping Biarritz restaurateurs fill empty tables was also a factor.
Authorities have divided the city into colour-coded zones for the gathering of heads of state.
The tightest restrictions apply in the red zone, which extends outward from the summit venue at the Hotel du Palais, located on the city’s central beach, Le Grande Plage.
The G7 meeting in Biarritz, a get together of leaders of the world’s largest economies, runs from Saturday to Monday.
Issues on the agenda include the global economy, tackling inequality and responding to the challenges of the digital age and the rise of Artificial Intelligence.