Ex­plor­ing the hid­den gems of N. France

Even as North­ern France is catch­ing up in pop­u­lar­ity with In­dian tourists, Lu­cie Rousseau, Busi­ness Man­ager In­dia, North­ern France Tourism, says they are work­ing to­wards at­tract­ing MICE groups as well as FITs from In­dia to the re­gion.

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North­ern France Tourism along with Atout France– In­dia re­cently or­gan­ised a fa­mil­iari­sa­tion trip to show­case the re­gion’s myr­iad of­fer­ings. “North­ern France is not a fa­mous touris­tic des­ti­na­tion, but since we are at the cross­roads from Paris to Lon­don, many tourists cross our re­gion. Thus, it’s easy for them to stop on the way and ex­plore beau­ties like Chan­tilly, for ex­am­ple. As the re­gional tourism board, we have a strat­egy to ac­cess emerg­ing mar­kets and hence we started with China five years ago and now we have 25,000 Chi­nese com­ing ev­ery year in the re­gion. We want to de­velop the In­dian mar­ket be­cause it is an emerg­ing mar­ket and there are more In­di­ans trav­el­ling out of In­dia. With 5 lakh tourists com­ing to France ev­ery year, we want to cap­ture a chunk of that num­ber for this re­gion as well,” says Lu­cie Rousseau.

Apart from tar­get­ing the In­dian mar­ket, Rousseau is also work­ing closely with the lo­cal tourism stake­hold­ers, so that they boost their busi­ness and make it easy for them to man­age In­dian clients, as she thinks it’s a dif­fer­ent mar­ket. “From China we have a lot of groups, but from In­dia we get a lot of FIT busi­ness, which does not ex­ist with the Chi­nese so far. Hence, we are try­ing to de­velop both groups as well as FITs in In­dia, be­cause peo­ple who are well trav­elled are ready to ex­plore a lit­tle more be­cause right now In­dia is still stuck to Paris and Nice. We did re­ceive a few groups from In­dia a cou­ple of years back and had around 5000-6000 In­dian ar­rivals, but that stopped and now we have more in­di­vid­ual trav­ellers. Currently, the num­ber of In­di­ans vis­it­ing North­ern France should be roughly be­tween 500-1000. Our aim is not to just de­velop Chan­tilly and Paris, but also places like Bay of Somme, which is more niche and is ready to have new mar­kets,” she shares.

Rousseau is work­ing in close prox­im­ity with the In­dian travel fra­ter­nity as well. “I try to go to In­dia at least three times a year to meet the travel agents and to take part in some events. We also work closely with Atout France in In­dia for pro­mo­tions, cam­paigns, sup­ple­ments that show­case our des­ti­na­tion. We also in­vite agents to ex­plore the re­gion. The re­cent Bol­ly­wood film ‘Be­fikre’ was shot in the re­gion last year, and we be­lieve that cinema is a great medium to at­tract In­di­ans to the des­ti­na­tion,” adds Rousseau.

Chan­tilly has been a pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion for groups and also had a huge In­dian wed­ding re­cently. “I would like to rec­om­mend MICE groups to come for a day trip to Chan­tilly and have lunch here, visit the cas­tle and in­dulge in a few team build­ing ac­tiv­i­ties. We try and do per­son­alised meals as well. The big­gest USP for Chan­tilly is that it’s only 30 min­utes from CDG air­port in Paris and can be­come the last stop for peo­ple vis­it­ing France, after which they can di­rectly fly back to In­dia.”

We want to de­velop the In­dian mar­ket be­cause it is an emerg­ing mar­ket and there are more In­di­ans trav­el­ling out of In­dia. With 5 lakh tourists com­ing to France ev­ery year, we want to cap­ture a chunk of that

Lu­cie Rousseau Busi­ness Man­ager In­dia North­ern France Tourism

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