TravTalk - India

Atout France focus on experience­s

With France becoming standalone destinatio­n for Indian visitors, Sheetal Munshaw, Director - India, Atout France, speaks to TRAVTALK about their strategy for this year, on the sidelines of their annual show Rendezvous 2022, held in Nantes recently.

- Hazel Jain

The market was already fast maturing pre-pandemic, says Sheetal Munshaw, Director - India, Atout France, implying that the Indian outbound traveller's behaviour has seen a further shift since. “As we have all seen, there has been a huge shift during the pandemic in the way people want to travel. The most important segment we are looking at will be people who are used to travelling, who are discerning travellers, simply because they are less apprehensi­ve to travel under the current circumstan­ces, and also who are less impacted economical­ly by the pandemic,” she adds.

Contrary to what experts had predicted, France actually saw a boom in meetings and incentives in early 2021. “We had incentives in October, November and December of anything from 50 to 200 people. That was totally unexpected. The same thing happened with weddings and mini social ceremonies. We incidental­ly had the biggest wedding in France in November 2021 of 700 people in Paris!” reveals Munshaw.

Among the things Atout France India wants to focus on are experience­s. “We are not talking about price points here; we are talking about people staying longer, about having immersive experience­s in France, families, and couples, be it honeymoone­rs, retired couples, etc.”

First-timers and repeat visitors

Earlier, it was 40 per cent GIT market into France. Now it is going to be different given that commercial flights have started. “We now expect to see groups coming back. But in any case the trend was more towards FITs for France, and of course when we say FIT, it is a very large umbrella – youngsters, women, friends, families, special interests, etc. Then there is MICE and weddings. These are the three key segments we are really focussed on. We would also like people to come and stay longer in France because it is more in sync with sustainabl­e tourism,” Munshaw explains. She also wants them to Indulge in authentic French experience – whether

Good to know

There is no quarantine in France for fully vaccinated travellers. For those who are unvaccinat­ed, or vaccinated with a vaccine not recognised by France (ex: Covaxin), restrictio­ns will apply. it is the cuisine, the local life or nightlife. “Pre-COVID the average stay in France was 6.7 nights for Indian travellers. Incentives were four nights, groups were three nights, FIT was a week. We would love for this to be longer with FITs staying for 10 nights or more because there is so much to see,” Munshaw adds.

The good news is that more and more Indians are showing an inclinatio­n to visit France as a standalone, or at least doing not more than two countries at a time in Europe, says Munshaw. “India is no longer a summer market, we are an all-year round source market and France is a year- round destinatio­n so it’s a perfect fit,” she adds.

Speaking about the various engagement­s that her office will do for the India market, Munshaw says, “We will do an event on wine tourism in October 2022 in Aix en Provence. We will also do our own showcase in Udaipur in the last week of September,” she says.

Social media is key

Munshaw says social media has become a part of everyone’s DNA and an extension of every corporate identity. “We have reworked social media strategy with a global Instagram and Twitter account,” she shares.

We would love FITs staying for 10 nights or more because there is so much for them to see in France

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 ?? ?? Sheetal Munshaw Director - India, Atout France
Sheetal Munshaw Director - India, Atout France
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