Paris' struggling reputation as a safe haven for tourists suffered another blow this week when reality TV queen Kim Kardashian West was held at gunpoint, robbed and tied up Monday morning in her private apartment in the city of light, French officials said. Kardashian, who frequently visits Paris from her home in California for shopping and fashion events, was reportedly "badly shaken but physically unharmed," according to a spokesperson.
Kardashian's attack comes months after terrorist plots carried out by supporters of the Islamic State group have hit Paris and Nice in France, and cities in Germany and Belgium. During the robbery, Kardashian was locked in the bathroom of her private apartment in Paris while five masked men took jewelry worth millions of dollars. She was traveling with her family in France for Paris Fashion Week.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo condemned the attack on Twitter Monday, noting that Kardashian "will always be welcome in Paris."
Despite a bombing in March at the Brussels airport and November terrorist attacks at nightlife venues across Paris, U.S. tourism to Europe was up 5 percent in April, largely because many of those trips were booked before the attacks, the New York Times reported. More recently, some tour operators said they have seen a reduction in bookings in recent months.
"In my market, our people are going to travel,” Jack S. Ezon, president of Ovation Vacations, told the New York Times. “They may just change where they’re going this year. They said, ‘All right, I can always go back to Paris. Why go this year? This year, let’s explore something new.’ For so many of them, new and exotic became the Grand Canyon. Some have been to Luang Prabang or the Irrawaddy River and the Mekong, but they’ve never been to Arizona.”
In March, the State Department warned Americans visiting Europe to stay alert. "U.S. citizens should exercise vigilance when in public places or using mass transportation," the statement read.
"If you're going to be nervous in that setting and it's going to ruin the experience, then don't do it," Leslie Overton, managing director of luxury tour operator Absolute Travel, told Town & County. "Just be sure to keep your eyes and ears open."
France remains one of the world's favorite tourist destinations, with 84.5 million tourists visiting in 2015 for museums, architecture, food, fashion and beautiful scenery. Before the recent terrorist attacks, the State Department had few warnings to U.S. citizens about visiting Paris.
"Violent crime is relatively uncommon in Paris’ city center. Pickpockets are by far a most significant problem. In addition to purses and wallets, smart phones and small electronic devices are particular targets," a 2015 report said.