Rendezvous en France returns after two years

Caroline Leboucher, CEO, Atout France; Image credit: Gilles Cramps

Rendezvous en France took place in the end of March with over 1,500 travel professionals in Nantes, Pays de le Loire in France after a postponement of two years. Although the number of French Exhibitors were slightly down from 2019, the event was a success despite some travel restrictions still in place.

Caroline Leboucher, CEO, Atout France, addressed the media on the side lines of the event: “Like all countries, France has been strongly impacted by the pandemic and, of course, it meant that we went from 90 million international visitors in 2019 to 45 million last year (2021). However, last year we saw an increase in market share from 15 per cent to 18 per cent in tourist revenues. This was better compared to some of the other EU countries. This showed that we have resilience compared to neighbouring countries.”

Tourism is very important to the French economy, responsible for 8 per cent of the GDP. The French government has thus provided specific support to tourism with an active recovery plan.

“A two billion euro recovery plan toward the tourism industry was unveiled by French Prime Minister in November 2021 with two main objectives – one to recover and consolidate as the world’s leading tourism destination in terms of international visitors, and second, to become a reference destination by 2030 for sustainable tourism.

“This plan has five priorities – to win back work force and talent, and with this we will launch a campaign this summer to attract talent in the tourism industry; post recovery, the competition will be harsh, therefore, we will have to differentiate ourselves, we will strengthen the resilience of the industry and quality will be key; develop French tourism assets; transform the sector – both through digital and sustainable tourism; and to promote France again as a destination and increase our market share.

“To achieve this, some of the measures we will work on are the classification of accommodation – this is to be revised every five years. We will encourage accommodation providers to be more sustainable, move more toward digitisation, and innovation and adapt to the continued changing trends of the consumer. Innovation – France has increased its attractiveness for start-ups. We are number one in Europe in terms of start-ups and innovation and in terms of level of investment, over 10 million euro has been raised. Data – Data is key. Along with my counterparts in the other French regions, we believe in insights and real time information and we are working with the industry, mapping and understanding visitors patterns and journeys and designing new systems and measures that we can share. Promotion – we gathered in Nantes together to promote France as a destination and its diversity. Apart from this B2B action, we are active with B2C digital campaigns and the MICE sector is key as well, with Paris being the leading destination for congresses,” said Leboucher.

* Learn more about Nantes on page 22