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www.expresstravelworld.com MONTHLY INSIGHT FOR THE TRAVEL TRADE
January 2008  
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Home - Management - Article

In Focus

A Parisian incentive

The Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau is sharpening its focus on India to attract the MICE and high-end FIT segment. It recently held a workshop in Paris for key Indian agents from Delhi and Mumbai, highlighting options available to fuse together business and pleasure in the city of love. By Neeti Mehra


View of the city from
Montparnasse Tower

The most romantic city in the world recently laid out the red carpet to key agents from Mumbai and Delhi as part of the educational FAM, organised by the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau, in association with Maison de la France and Air France, who played host to Tristar Travels, Mercury Travels, Travel Voyages, Thomas Cook India and Horizons Dream Vacations to bring forth a slice of Parisian life over four days.

From Paris, with love

With approximately 150,000 Indian visitors travelling to the capital in 2006, and 2,00,000 expected visitors to the city in 2007, future development for Paris looks promising, as a further 2,50,000 people are expected to visit the country in 2008. Says Patricia Barthelemy, international promotion manager, (Japan, India, Korea, Russia, China) Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau, "We are continuing our active involvement in promotional work for the Indian market, concentrating on establishing close working relationships with operators and it is also our endeavour to personalise services for Indian visitors to Paris."

The focus next year will be on strengthening relationships with European operators who deal with the Indian market. Remarks Barthelemy, "We will proactively strengthen ties between the European and Indian market through leading wholesalers such as Kuoni Travels, Gullivers Travel Associates and Travco, making use of extensive presentations and FAMs."

She expects the Indian market to mature quickly; faster than the Japanese market did. She says, "In a short time period, between 5-10 years, India will be a critical market for us and we need to prepare ourselves for it." A case in study is the Chinese market which they started developing 10 years ago, and from whom they are reaping the benefits today. "Though Indians are familiar with Europe, we would like to see more visitors come to France. To achieve this we will increase our efforts in this market. We need to increase awareness of the destination - for instance that there are quite a few Indian restaurants in Paris and a large number of French are fluent in English. Essentially, we need to extend that comfort level to the agent first, because it is his conviction that brings in first time and repeat clientele." She stresses on the fact that the best way to keep updated is through their website, which is at the heart of all their marketing activities. "The website is the first point of contact, and essentially it is a comprehensive database of all the activities and information that an agent will need."

In the first week of March, the Paris committee with 20 delegates will visit Mumbai and Delhi to reinforce their commitment to the Indian market and explore business opportunities with key agents.

Snapshots of Paris
  • Paris attracted 27 million visitors from all over the world in 2006
  • In 2007 the city attracted 2,00,000 Indian visitors
  • It is the largest hub in Europe with two airports and has six train stations linking Europe in 2hrs by a high-speed train
  • 1,460 hotels across various categories offering 75,000 rooms

MICE Paris

  • Paris is a world leader for meetings of international associations. In 2005, 1,777 events were held, including more than 644 trade fairs and international congresses
  • The 15 main congress and exhibition centres in Île-de-France have adequate accomodation to support them. For instance, the Pole Paris Nord Villepinte has 10,370 bedrooms, while Pole Disneyland Resort Paris offers 7,939 bedrooms
  • Events can also be held at three Opera houses, 141 museums and monuments

For more information, log on to: ww.presstraveltrade.parisinfo.com

The transformation of Paris

Worldwide, the travel landscape is undergoing a transformation, and Paris is no exception. Says Paul Roll, managing director, Paris Visitors and Convention Bureau, "Tourism is booming in the city. There is a better performance overall in all seasons, including the traditional low seasons." The Paris Fashion Week and the Rugby World Cup held recently, saw hotel occupancies soaring and the city was chock-a-block with tourists.

In 2006, total visitor arrivals recorded at hotels were 15.3 million. The total overnights were 33.9 million, with average occupancy at 75.2 per cent. The RevPars increased by 11.7 per cent as compared with 2005 figures. This buoyancy continues. According to Paul, the main reason for the overall buoyancy is that traditional markets are bouncing back and the emerging markets - Brazil, China, South Korea, India and Russia are doing well, all thanks to an economic upturn. The Americans lead the visitor footfalls, followed by the British, the Italians, the Germans and the Japanese. Interestingly, according to the last conducted survey, tourists from the Far East featured at the top of the list of nationalities - the average daily expenditure being €276 for the Japanese and €247.9 for the Chinese tourists.


Parisian suppliers with Indian agents at the workshop

Chalet des Īles restaraunt

 


Opera House

Roll predicts a shift in the visitor profile by 2020. "The Chinese will constitute the second highest number of visitors to Paris. The Indians, Brazilians, Mexicans and the Russians should feature in the top 10 list of visitors to the country, overtaking the traditional markets," he says. Conversely, he sees Shanghai and Mumbai emerging on the world tourism map, along with London, Paris, and New York. The changing visitor demographic will transform the city in more ways than one. Sensitising Parisian suppliers and inhabitants to the starkly different cultures of the emerging travel powerhouses is paramount. Since 2003, the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau has held courses for its committee members regarding the various aspects of Indian Culture. A list of Indian restaurants has already been drawn up for the Indian visitor and other measures are being carried out by Maison de La France (see box). This sensitisation extends to the city and its inhabitants as well, as can be seen with the introduction of low-cost rental bicycles available at high-tech rental stations which were introduced with a view to cut traffic, reduce sound and noise pollution, and give tourism a completely different experience and pace.

Despite attracting the most visitors in the world, the Parisian Visitors and Convention Bureau is not resting on its laurels. "We need to manage and develop infrastructure further; which includes the development of more hotels, in order to keep Paris a very vibrant and a dynamic city," says Roll.

Maison de La France steps up India activities
A new office, a slew of activities for the New Year and a sharpened focus on the Indian market. Maison de La France (French Tourist Office) is reinstating its positioning as an all-year-round destination that goes beyond the usual tourist hot-spots. This year, an online specialist programme, a study on the Indian marketplace, and a booklet on Indian travel habits, will be launched, reinforcing its commitment to the Indian market. Says Sheetal Wadhwa Munshaw, deputy director India, French Tourist Office, "We will continue to focus our marketing activities on the MICE, honeymoon and the high-end FIT traveler segments in our key source cities - Mumbai and Delhi."

The French Tourist Office recently held 'French Connection 2007,' its annual road show, in Mumbai and Delhi, which comprised 42 delegates from 28 companies. This edition had a strong regional focus. Participants included Rhone Alpes Tourism, Lyon Tourist Office, Nice Convention and Visitors Bureau, Alsace Tourism and the Provence Tourist Board, amongst others.

In 2007, the French Tourist Office, India, participated in WTM for the first time. Says Munshaw, "With this effort we reinstated the proximity of Paris and London, which has been supported by the connectivity through the Eurostar. We also established contact with London agents working with the Indian market to push this aspect." Post WTM, key Indian agents visited Paris to establish contact with Parisian suppliers. For the International Luxury Travel Market to be held at Cannes, a post exhibition FAM for operators is in the pipeline.

Besides this, it is also looking to tap new source markets. However, the focus continues to be on the twin cities of Delhi and Mumbai which generate maximum traffic. The strategy to tap nascent markets will primarily be through road shows and tradeshow participation.

This year the board will bring out a study revealing the travel habits and perception of Indian travellers, vis-à-vis France. Explains Munshaw, "India is a dynamic travel market and we need to understand its intricacies." According to the last report conducted four years ago, the average stay of an Indian traveller ranges between three-four nights, with Paris being the primary gateway into the country.

The next year will also see the worldwide launch of the French online specialist training programme for the travel trade. "We will adapt it to the Indian market," Munshaw states. Also on the anvil is a booklet for French tourist product suppliers to bridge the gap between expectations and deliverables that will provide an insight into the needs and habits of the Indian traveler. "It will be distributed to the entire tourism fraternity who work with the Indian market," she adds.

In conclusion Munshaw says, "France is a diverse destination and has multiple points of access. It has parallels with India, if one thinks of the sheer diversity of both countries. There is ample scope for a traveller to return to a different landscape each time."

The Indian view point

The city's charm is working its magic on the Indian agent, who was given a glimpse of hidden Paris in this educational trip. Says Nagsri Prasad Sashidhar, senior consultant - outbound holidays, Mercury Travels, "Paris is an evergreen destination. Our introduction to another facet of Paris was a great idea and a very good step in helping us better the product quality we offer our clients. This also suits the repeat traveler," she says. This year, new products introduced for the Indian market include the Tour Montparnasse skyscraper that offers a bird's eye view of the city and the Cabaret Bobino. Gastronomy, culture and art are the way to go, according to Ankur Khanna of Tristar Travel Services. He feels that the average stay of a visitor can be increased in the city, from two days till at least a week. "A good mix-and-match of nightlife of famed Parisian cabarets alternated with visits to the lively Montmartre or a river cruise is a good option." Khanna also reiterates the combination of Paris and London as ideal twin honeymoon destinations. And this capital of continental Europe will continue to attract the Indian outbound with its wide array of offerings.

 


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