In a bid to further attract tourism to the Provence region, Atout France recently organised its 14th edition of Rendez-vous en France in Marseille. The annual showcase welcomed 915 tour operators and 35 international journalists from across 73 countries; to not only showcase the new French products and attraction but also the culture, attractions, gastronomy, etc of the Provence Region which still has potential to grow further. The delegation included a large contingent of 32 Travel Agents and Tour operators from India, which is today one of the most important markets for France.
Speaking about the event Sheetal Munshaw Director-India, Atout France said, “We have got 32 travel agents and tour operators, majority from Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai and Ahmadabad. We choose the cities based on the potential and we have seen a major growth in these cities. Mumbai is our key market in terms of number of visas applied, followed by Delhi, and Bangalore. Chennai is now gaining a lot more of prominence after the opening of the Jet airways flight. Ahmadabad is an extension of Mumbai and has contributed about 18 per cent of the outbound overall.”
The destination organised pre and post fam trips to showcase the unexplored regions to the tour operators. In 2019, the destinations in the trade show's 13 partner regions received 560 prescribers on 60 familiarisation trips The Provence, Alpes and Côte d'Azur regions alone are running 26 programmes. India market has now matured over the years and travellers are looking for unique experiences.
Munshaw said, “More Indians are now looking at offbeat destinations in France. This year in the pre tour of Rendezvous, travel trade selected very new destinations. This is a clear indication of where Indians are looking to travel. These regions have a lot of potential. Paris still remains the undisputed leader as far as India goes. We have south of France, Cote d’Azur, Rhone Alps, Occitanie, Northern France are definitely picking up from India market. We have also seen a lot of growth in the FIT in the last couple of years. We have groups which gives us stability. In terms of FITs growth is phenomenal and also they have longer stays and that helps us to showcase multiple regions and experiences.”
France has a vision to reach the 100 million visitor numbers by 2020, and India has been one of the important markets in their strategy. The destination has witnessed positive growth from India over the last five years.
Speaking about India Munshaw said, “India is a priority market for France. Globally all destination knows that Asia Pacific is the region from where the growth will come. India has been important for us and we have deployed more staff in India as well and increase the budgets. 2018 has been a very good year when we look at the stats of the airport arrivals and also the visa stats. Our official figures are not yet out as we release them in the summers. The trend is very positive and once again we are set to witness growth this year. We have seen a positive growth from the last five years. In terms of spending pattern, the FITs are high spenders and have longer length of stay. The quality of travellers from India has also improved a lot. We see this through the evolution of taste in travellers. Indians are looking at boutique properties, apartments, Relais & Châteaux. We see that travellers are evolving a lot.”