Tourists Flocking Back To France

with Kerry Sharpe

Mélanie Paul-Hus, Director - Canada, Atout France

Pieter de Man, Director of Business Development, Canada, Air France-KLM

Tina the Travel Agent also attended the event

Atout France was in town last week, hosting its annual Destination France roadshow, which featured four stops – Quebec, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. 

Describing the roadshow as “a key moment,” the organization’s director for Canada, Mélanie Paul-Hus, laid out the objective: “To strengthen the marketing of France as a tourism destination for Canadians and provide the most current information to travel agencies, industry professionals and the media.”

The theme this year was ‘In Bloom,’ which took on a dual meaning of sorts – on the one hand, there was a focus on the many gardens tourists can visit while in France, while on the other it commented on the current status of France itself as it continues to bounce back from the 2015 attacks in Paris.

“In 2016, France welcomed 1,125,000 Canadians,” said Paul-Hus, which is an increase of 11% year-over-year. “This [number] represents some 11 million overnights and 1.4% of all tourists visiting France.”

While international arrivals from other key markets were down, resulting in a decrease in tourism globally for France in 2016, for 2017 the destination was back on track, Paul-Hus said.

“Not only did it catch up for the losses from the previous year, estimations let us think that it will have exceeded the good results of 2015, prior to the attacks, with between 88 and 89 million foreign tourist arrivals.”

France is looking to capitalize on this forward momentum, setting ambitious tourism targets: 100 million international tourists by 2020 and €50 billion spent by visitors. 

Also at the event, Air France-KLM’s Director of Business Development for Canada, Pieter de Man, took the opportunity to highlight the company’s revamped Flying Blue loyalty program, which will take effect on 1APR.

Described as “a more simple and flexible program,” it is based on spend and one’s level within the program, instead of distance travelled, and also offers reciprocal benefits to those who collect and redeem miles through WestJet’s (an Air France-KLM partner) reward program.

The event ended with a cocktail party and a couple of awards given out. The ‘Product of the Year’ award went to Globus for its ‘Paris, Normandy and the Loire’ tour and the ‘Partner of the Year’ award went to TravelBrands, recognizing its active participation in promoting France.

Kerry Sharpe

Kerry Sharpe Columnist

Having worked in travel for the last 16 years, Kerry has experience covering the industry as media, as well as being under its lens when she worked for Thomas Cook, TravelBrands and itravel2000. A new mom, Kerry recently returned to the workforce and when she’s not chasing after her daughter, you’ll see her out and about covering industry events alongside her new BFF Tina the Travel Agent.

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