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PARIS (Reuters) - Asterix the Gallic warrior and his big-eared American friend Mickey Mouse can breathe easier after lawmakers torpedoed French government plans to more than triple the tax on theme park entrance fees.
President Nicolas Sarkozy has ordered his government to find more money to help plug the hole in public finances but one of the proposals, a sales tax hike of 5.5 to 19.6 percent on entry ticket sales to approximately 200 theme parks in France, was rejected by a key committee in the lower house of parliament.
Budget Minister Valerie Pecresse said on Thursday she still hoped to get the measure adopted but for now the attempt to net an annual 90 million euros ($129 million) extra is in abeyance after the backlash from lawmakers with major theme parks located in their constituencies.
Parc Asterix, less than an hour's drive north of Paris, charges children 30 euros and enchanted grown-ups 40 euros to relive the legendary Roman-repelling feats of the plucky Gallic warrior and his colleagues, according to the park's webpage.
Along with Eurodisney, the European home of Mickey Mouse and a myriad of other heroes of American culture, Asterix is one of the more internationally known crowd-grabbers within a wider theme park offer that includes a futuristic multimedia attraction in the political constituency of a former prime minister, the Futuroscope park in Western France.
Minister Pecresse says other holiday and leisure offers are taxed at the near-20 percent VAT rate and in hard times there is no reason to continue a theme park discount introduced in the 1980s under last Socialist President Francois Mitterrand.
Writing by Brian Love, editing by Paul Casciato