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French press review 31 October 2016

Just how bad are things in the French tourism sector? Why are Manuel Valls and François Hollande no longer the best of friends? Why is it more dangerous to be a French pedestrian in November than in October? And why is Italy so frequently shaken by earthquakes?

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Libération's cover story is devoted to the crisis in the French tourism sector, for long a thriving force in an otherwise sluggish economy. In the wake of the recent series of terrorist attacks visitor numbers are down dramaticaly, resulting in a 750 million reduction in turnover in the first half of 2016 in a sector which accounts for 7.5 percent of gross national product.

Paris and the southern Côte d'Azur are the worst affected.

Libé says this crisis should serve as a wake-up call to those responsible for the sector and force them to address structural and other problems that went unnoticed while the money was pouring in. Apart from anything else, says Libé, if properly managed, French tourism could create one million new jobs.

Valls begins to distance himself from Hollande

Right-wing Le Figaro's main story is devoted to tensions at the top of the Socialist administration. The main headline reads "Hollande-Valls on the verge of divorce".

The conservative paper bases this assertion on the fact that Prime Minister Valls has to start thinking about life after next year's presidential election, and that his loyalty to President François Hollande has its limits.

Limits which Le Figaro suggests have been exceeded by the nuggets of presidential wisdom contained in a recent book of interviews.

Valls has spoken of the "anger" and "shame" felt by Socialist supporters in reading the president's observations on key facets of French society. He says the book has shocked and dissapointed the Socialist parliamentary group, already deeply divided, now deeply depressed.

Should he stay or should he go?

Le Figaro is running one of its readers' polls asking whether, in the wake of his public criticism of the president, Valls should resign. With 25,000 votes, 74 percent say he should give up his job as prime minister, 26 percent saying he should stay.

Stay bright, stay alert, these are dangerous days

Le Figaro warns that these are dangerous days on the nation's roads and footpaths.

Following yesterday's shift to winter time, with the clocks going back by one hour and a consequent loss of evening daylight, there are going to be more road accidents, most of them involving pedestrians, most probaly between the hours of five and seven in the evening.

There are figures to prove it: the road safety statistics for the past four years show a tragic but consistent increase of three percent in the number of accidents recorded in the month of November by comparison with October. And, if you're a pedestrian, your chances of being involved in an accident increase by 40 percent in these suddenly dark days.

And what time do you think it is in Cyprus?

Spare a thought for Cyprus, the divided Mediterranean island which has two time zones since Sunday. The northern part, occupied by Turkey, did not change hour on Sunday. The southern part of the island, which is a member of the European Union, did. That means that an appointment at 11.00am in northern Nicosia, will be at 10.00am according to clocks on the southern side of the checkpoint. And it won't make life any easier for the 5,000 Turks who travel each day to jobs in the southern sector.

Why so many Italian earthquakes?

Italy suffered its third magnitude six earthquake in two months yesterday. No deaths have been reported but yesterday's quake, at 6.6 the most powerful in Italy since 1980, caused a huge amount of structural damage.

Le Monde wonders why the same region should be hit so violently and in such rapid succession.

The basic problem is that Africa is slowly floating northwards. Central Italy is on the fault line where the European and African continental plates meet. The pressure which results from all this push and shove is occasionally released, producing earth tremors.

According to the seismologists at the Italian Geophysical Institute, any earthquake above magnitude six causes a redistribution of energy in neighbouring cracks and crannies of the earth's surface.

The current sequence began with the August quake which killed 300 people. Earlier this week, the region around Norcia was hit. And then there was Sunday. The experts warn that this "sequence" is just a guess and that more tremors are likely.

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