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“”France holds tremendous potential both as a luxury and wedding destination””

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What according to you was the highlight of Rendez-vous en France 2014?

Catherine Oden

This year, Rendezvous en France took place in a relatively unknown region – Auvergne – home to natural landscapes, art and volcanoes. In addition to promoting the holistic French tourist offer to a gathering of 850 global buyers, this year’s workshop also provided visiting travel professionals many opportunities to discover Auvergne and its natural beauty. To further acquaint travel professionals with popular tourist venues, soirees were organised at popular tourist venues such as Vulcania and the Polydome. This was indeed the perfect opportunity to showcase a new region on a global travel platform of this stature.

The format of the workshop also included familiarisation tours to other French regions in addition to Auvergne. For the visiting Indian delegation of 17 agents the familiarisation tours were also organised in Sarlat in the Perigord region, Rhone Alpes and Champagne- Ardenne. Besides Rhone-Alpes, the other regions were fairly new to the delegation. These tours organised to lesser known regions complemented perfectly Atout France in India’s objective to introduce newer destinations into the India market. From the Indian perspective, it is heartening to learn that agents were extremely pleased with their familiarisation trips and were quite enthused with the idea of promoting new regions in their itineraries.

Can you share your thoughts on Clermont-Ferrand as a tourism destination for the Indian traveller?

We believe that Clermont Ferrand is a destination that would appeal more to a second or third time traveller coming to France for something offbeat, unusual. For the moment, the destination needs to be promoted in this market. The destination needs visibility and its various facets needs to be showcased to the discerning Indian traveller. We are fairly certain that this region would appeal to travellers who are interested in nature and the outdoors.

Is there a certain take home you hope to achieve for this year’s event?

The objective of Rendezvous en France is to create an in-depth awareness about the diversity of the French tourist offer and create a perfect platform for French sellers and global buyers to interact and develop fruitful business relationships under one common roof. Rendezvous en France also creates the perfect environment for new sellers to introduce themselves on a global level. We would like to encourage our delegates who were part of the exhibition to augment and enhance their forthcoming itineraries of France with the inclusion of newer regions especially the ones they saw while as part of the workshop, introducing new products, travel ideas.

What is your primary focus for the India market for the next two years?

In recent years, the Indian traveller has exhibited a keen willingness to include novel experiences as part of his travel agenda. Wanting to entice this genre of traveller, we had launched our communication campaign ‘Be There! Do That!’ last year which showcased France as an experiential destination. From activity-oriented holidays to destination reinventions, we had, through this campaign, acquainted the discerning Indian visitor with diverse and exciting travel ideas. We believe the trend of experiential travel is here to stay and through ‘Be There! Do That!’ we shall continue to present unique adventures possible in France, appealing to different segments of travellers such as families, honeymooners, friends on a holiday, DINKS, the single woman traveller, etc. We will also focus on showcasing France as a preferred MICE destination keen to welcome Indian corporate movements. The vast potential of this dynamic segment rests unchallenged and we are keen to augment our share of Indian groups and will make focused efforts to achieve this objective. In addition, we see great promise in the field of youth tourism and are also keen to make rapid in-roads in this domain. Today, organising educational trips to overseas destinations is not uncommon. We believe that France could be a destination of choice for such trips. We would be looking at developing common synergies with education institutions with the aim of finding avenues for joint collaborations and encouraging decision makers to plan an educational trip to France.

Is the demand from the Indian buyers witnessed some change over time. Has there been an evolution in travel?

There has definitely been an augmentation in FIT travel to France. Though we still welcome a majority of our Indian visitors as part of escorted tours, the number of FIT travellers is rapidly rising every year. The Indian visitor has come a long way from travelling on escorted tours to enquiring for a customised holiday crafted to suit his precise needs and requirements. The influence of the internet and social media has totally changed the outlook towards travel. Today’s potential holiday-maker does not mind conducting an extensive research on the destination he plans to visit and is completely aware of what he would like to include in his agenda. There is a gradual yet steady increase in the demands for wine trails, wellness holidays, self-drive holidays, gourmet routes besides others.

Do you think France is totally ready to go solo as a destination?

France is definitely gaining favour as a solo destination, thanks to the evolution of the discerning Indian traveller. Over the last few years, we have observed that the discerning Indian traveller is ready to spend time in France discovering its regions.

What’s your perception of France as a luxury and wedding destination for India?

France holds tremendous potential both as a luxury and wedding destination for its Indian guests. A versatile destination, France presents a plethora of experiences catering to both domains. To the luxury seeker, France presents the best of its elegant accommodation options including palace hotels, chic sea-side resorts, Alpine retreats, helicopter discoveries of Mediterranean islands and Alpine peaks, hot-air balloon rides over grandiose chateaux. and lush vineyards, indulgent shopping options at iconic luxury boutiques, wellness escapades, golf breaks and of course an exquisite selection of fine-dine Michelin starred restaurants to round off a perfect luxury experience. France serves as a perfect wedding destination with a choice of venues ranging from traditional churches to historic monuments to reception rooms in chateaux, iconic hotels, all of which could be privatised for a wedding.

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