Atout France, the French tourism marketing body, is aiming to attract more visitors from Southeast Asia.
The organisation, which was formerly known as Maison de la France, is currently hosting a major four-city roadshow in the region, which will enable key French travel and tourism suppliers to meet with the Southeast Asian travel trade.
From 21-29 November 2016, the ‘Douce France’ event will see Atout France and 12 of its partners meet agents at events in Jakarta, Singapore, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur.
The companies showcasing their products that these events include Pont du Gard, ODT de Luberon, Disneyland Paris, MacArthur Glenn, MGTC, Club Med, Incom France, CRT PACA, Croisieurope, La Vallee Village, Air France-KLM and RailEurope.
France is already the most-visited country in the world, welcoming a total of 84.5 million international visitors in 2015 – almost triple the number that entered Thailand, Southeast Asia’s most-visited destination. Despite its popularity however, France still welcomes relatively few visitors from Southeast Asia. Just 600,000 travellers from the ASEAN region visited France last year – less than 1% of its total arrivals. Malaysia was the country’s top ASEAN source market, with approximately 150,000 arrivals, followed by Singapore and Thailand (both approx. 120,000).
Indonesia however, is seeing rapid growth (+50% in terms of visas issued since January 2016) and is expected to overtake its neighbours to become France’s largest ASEAN source market in 2017. It is also expected to become the second largest Asian market after China.
Several new activities and attractions are being planned for France in 2017. Those travelling to the country for retail therapy will be tempted by a new shopping and leisure outlet at Pont de Normandie, which will feature 100 stores when it opens next spring, and fashionistas will also be interested in the new Yves Saint Laurent Museum in Paris, which debuts in autumn 2017.
Disneyland Paris is launching a new nature-based complex close to Paris in spring, which will include a geothermal lagoon, gardens, an activity forest and “Enchanted Island”, and the main theme park will celebrate its 25th anniversary next year with a new night-time spectacular and a Star Wars attraction.
Foodies can also enjoy a series of culinary festivals in 2017, including Bocuse d’Or and the Patisserie World Championship in Lyon, as well as the opening of a new wine venue in the Rhone Valley.
And the year could end on a high for France; in September 2017 the country will know if it has been selected as the host city for the 2024 Olympic Games.