Destination France event highlights country’s challenges - and beautiful inspirations

Destination France event highlights country’s challenges – and beautiful inspirations

MONTREAL — France continues to fascinate thanks to its exceptional history. This was the theme chosen by Atout France, France’s tourism development agency in Canada, for its seventh ‘Destination France’ travel industry roadshow.

“The choice of the theme of our tour, France Stories, was for Atout France the opportunity to draw the attention of the press and professionals to the huge heritage offering in France and overseas regions,” Marie-Andrée Boucher, Atout France’s head of press relations, told Travelweek’s sister publication Profession Voyages at the Montreal show recently.

Destination France 2019 brought together 27 French partners to present their tourist regions and products to Canadian professionals. The event, which began in Montreal, continued in Toronto before landing in Calgary and Vancouver.

Agents turned out to the shows in droves looking for new products for their clients.

Destination France event highlights country’s challenges - and beautiful inspirations

Melanie Paul-Hus, Director, Atout France Canada

“The aim of this tour is to show the novelties of France and connect tour operators and travel consultants with representatives of French destinations and their tourist products. We are happy to have such a beautiful delegation,” said Melanie Paul-Hus, Atout France’s Canada Director.

France, however, faces significant hurdles, not least of which are the recent ‘Yellow Vest’ protest demonstrations and the widespread media coverage. “I think that the news brings challenges,” says Paul-Hus. “At present, we do not know if social movements have had an impact on the motivations of Canadian travellers, but we are confident. All cities are well organized to welcome tourists in the best conditions, despite the events.

Paul-Hus says France is also working to promote ‘slow tourism’ in France, to help combat overtourism. “We know that travelers will stop in Paris, but it is not a final and unique destination. Many offers are located less than two hours from Paris. The Val de Loire region, in the spotlight this year, is a good example. It is rare that one visits a single city in France, the distances being so short. Although France is very popular in Quebec, we still have a lot of conquests to make about Ontario and other English-speaking provinces.”

Destination France event highlights country’s challenges - and beautiful inspirations

Marc Richet, director of the regional tourism committee of France’s Centre-Val de Loire region

Centre-Val de Loire echoes this desire to live and relive history, and this year the region is in the spotlight with ‘Viva Leonardo da Vinci! 2019 – 500 years of Renaissance in Center Val de Loire’.

“It’s going to be a permanent party all year long,” says Marc Richet, General Manager of the Regional Tourism Committee of Center-Val de Loire. “There will be many cultural events for all ages because the culture is not reserved for seniors. Our heritage is more dynamic than ever with the use of new technologies. If you have to go to the area, this year is a great opportunity.”

“With France, you have to know how to reinvent yourself,” says Cristelle Cormier, deputy director of Tours Chanteclerc.

The Destination France event was also an opportunity to reward Canadian tour operators who showcase France in their brochures. At the Toronto event, the winners including Kensington Tours (product of the year) and Connaissance Travel and Tours (partner of the year).