The ‘Cen­ten­nial Ef­fect’

Catherine Oden, Direc­tor, Atout France, speaks to about how they man­aged to up their in­ter­na­tional tourist ar­rivals with the help of a co­her­ent strat­egy.

TravTalk - India - - News -

The Year 2014 marked the Cen­te­nary Year of World War. It is in­ter­est­ing to note that the In­dian army also played a sig­nif­i­cant part in this World War. In Au­gust 1914, as the Ger­man army made rapid ad­vances in to Bel­gium and France, the Al­lies found them­selves in want of more man­power to guard the West­ern Front. With its strength of 161,000 men, the In­dian army of Un­di­vided In­dia seemed the best op­tion and the La­hore and Meerut in­fantry di­vi­sions were se­lected for ser­vice in Europe. They were thrown into battle near Ypres soon af­ter they ar­rived in early Oc­to­ber and both di­vi­sions in­curred heavy losses. Af­ter the First Battle of Ypres, Khu­dadad Khan be­came the first In­dian to be awarded the Vic­to­ria Cross.

How did you lever­age this piece of his­tory to at­tract more tourists to France?

As part of boost­ing re­mem­brance tourism to var­i­ous sites, the ‘ Great War Cen­te­nary Des­ti­na­tion’ was im­ple­mented in Novem­ber 2013. This kick- started an un­prece­dented col­lab­o­ra­tion among play­ers in the re­mem­brance tourism in­dus­try. A co­her­ent strat­egy al­lowed those pro­mot­ing sites on the West­ern Front to work to­gether un­der one ban­ner – ‘The Great War on the West­ern Front’. By join­ing forces they were able to achieve a greater visibility on an in­ter­na­tional level.

What kind of at­trac­tions did the vis­i­tors get to ex­pe­ri­ence?

Vis­i­tors were privy to artis­tic de­pic­tions in the form of in­stal­la­tions and ex­hi­bi­tions new site open­ings and ren­ova- tions. Vis­i­tors also had the op­por­tu­nity to em­bark on re­mem­brance trails trac­ing the foot­steps of the war.


has this boosted the num­ber of vis­i­tors to me­mo­rial sites?

In 2014, re­mem­brance tourism ben­e­fited greatly from the ‘Cen­ten­nial Ef­fect’. The estab­lish­ment of the Great War Cen­te­nary Des­ti­na­tion Agree­ment stim­u­lated a sig­nif­i­cant growth in the num­ber of in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors, par­tic­u­larly for sites in the West­ern Front re­gions. First World War com­mem­o­ra­tions boosted the num- ber of vis­i­tors to me­mo­rial sites in 2014. Cer­tain sites on the West­ern Front even dou­bled their ad­mis­sion num­bers, sur­pass­ing the at­ten­dance lev­els for all of 2013 as early as Au­gust! This has been a ver­i­ta­ble wind­fall for ac­com­mo­da­tion providers, who have also seen a rise in reser­va­tions for 2015, and even 2016. In ad­di­tion to an in­crease in tourists from Euro­pean coun­tries, pro­fes­sion­als have also no­ticed a no­table in­crease in the num­ber of long-haul vis­i­tors.


did you pro­mote this in In­dia?

In or­der to in­form both travel trade pro­fes­sion­als and the dis­cern­ing au­di­ence about ef­forts un­der­taken in this domain, press com­mu­niqués on the ac­tiv­i­ties planned for 2014 were dif­fused to B2B and B2C press as well. Ar­ti­cles on Cen­ten­nial events were also pub­lished on our web­site –­dezvousen­ – as well as our so­cial me­dia plat­forms.

The estab­lish­ment of the Great War Cen­te­nary Des­ti­na­tion Agree­ment stim­u­lated a sig­nif­i­cant growth in the num­ber of in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors.

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