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A series of protests by French student groups and labor unions in Paris over a new labor contract for youth has raised concerns among U.S. Embassy and French tourism officials.

On Monday, embassy officials in Paris released a message advising staff members and travelers to avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings.

The release said tourists should be alert to local news reports about demonstrations, and if they encounter one to leave quickly. Special caution is advised during evening and night hours.

The U.S. State Department issued a public announcement last week stating that protests are expected to continue in Paris and other large cities. However it has not issued a travel warning, which is normally used to to recommend that Americans avoid a certain country.

Bloomberg News Service reported French tourist officials fear two more weeks of protests will cause problems for the industry. Paris is the world’s No. 1 destination with 26 million visitors a year, more than 1.6 million of them American.

“If the events were to continue, we’ll have to take some measures,” Bloomberg quoted Junior Tourism Minister Leon Bertrand. He is worried about the impact on Paris’s hotels and restaurants, which generate about $10.8 billion annually.

The French already have taken action to assure Chinese tourists that Paris is safe, and is considering doing the same in the U.S., Britain, Australia and Japan if the flow of tourists continues to slow, Bloomberg said.

After December riots over young immigrants’ jobless status and treatment by the French government, tourist officials launched a 1 million-euro campaign in foreign media to convince visitors the country was safe, Bloomberg reported.

Tourist traffic in Paris dropped about 4 percent after the riots, and officials want to make sure that does not happen again as peak travel season approaches.

The U.S. Embassy said travelers in France who need assistance can contact its staff by telephone at 01-43-12- 22-22 or by e-mail at citizeninfo@state.gov. The embassy’s Consular Section in Paris is at 2 Rue St. Florentin, on Place de la Concorde, (Metro stop Concorde). Its Web site is http://france.usembassy.gov.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad can monitor the Web site http://travel.state.gov, where current worldwide cautions, travel warnings and public announcements can be found.

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