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France woos Indian tourists

Written by editor

France is hard-selling itself to India as a viable tourist destination with new locales and two new campaigns specifically for the Indian holiday crowd.

France is hard-selling itself to India as a viable tourist destination with new locales and two new campaigns specifically for the Indian holiday crowd.

The campaigns are “France with Family” for families and “Romantic France” for honeymooners, couples with double income and no kids and those who look for romantic getaways to Europe. It will be launched in November.

The country on Wednesday showcased its tourism potential in the “French Connection 2008”, a two-day promotional road show Oct 22-23 to lure more tourists from India.

Sixteen French and Indian companies took part in the show organised by the Maison de la France, the French Tourist Office, here.

“We are launching two new tourism campaigns, ‘France with Family’ and ‘Romantic France’, in November. The French government is also opening new destinations in western France like Britanny, Normandy, Loire Valley chateaux and the Bordeaux region as a whole.

“We are also promoting French overseas colonies like Polynesian islands and Martinique in the Caribbean,” Karim Mekachera, director of the French Tourist Office, said.

The country has opened “relatively inexpensive” bread and breakfast chateaux – mostly old homes converted into overnight resorts – for the upper middle class Indian tourists, who flock to Europe every year.

“The Ralais-Et-Chateaux chain of hotels is one of them,” he said.

France is targeting individual travellers, tour groups and Bollywood, which hunts for new locales and triggers a rush of tourists to see places where their favourite movies were shot.

France organises two major tourism events – the Grand Ski and the Rendezvous France – every year. “The Grand Ski, a major skiing event, conducts 600 tours from across the world. Last year, ten groups of tourists from India visited France for the Grand Ski,” Mekachera said.

It is estimated that nearly 200,000 Indians visited France as tourists in 2007 and 180,000 the year before.

A study by the French Tourist Office in cities like Mumbai and Delhi shows that over 50% Indian tourists now treat France as a mono-destination, unlike a decade ago when the country was part of the European tour package.

The duration of stay has also increased from two nights to four nights on an average and Indians could soon become the biggest spenders in France with an average daily spend trend of Euros 100 – 1,000, the survey said.