Atout France is celebrating 70 years of success, with lots in store for the travel industry for 2018 and beyond.
The two-city tour in Toronto and Montreal welcomed media and travel partners, including Air Canada and the tourism boards of Auvergne Rhone-Alpes, Evian, Loire Valley and Nantes.
It was in 1947 when the organization, then known as France Tourism (later renamed Atout France in 2009), opened its doors in Montreal to cater to an ever-growing travel market to the country. Those numbers have increased steadily over the years, with 2014 marking a significant year as 1,0,23,000 Canadians visited the destination.
“Tourism is the top priority for France’s foreign affairs ministry,” said Atout France’s Canadian Director Melanie Paul-Hus. “The Consulate in Toronto and all diplomatic services have a strong network and have increased France’s presence in Canada.”
In Montreal this week, Atout France also helped launched Imagine France, a photo exhibition by photographer Maia Flore, showcasing scenes from across the country taken from the artist’s unique perspective. The exhibit runs until Nov. 19 and Paul-Hus hinted at the possibility of the show coming to Toronto.
Paul-Hus told PAX that 2018 will see a number of new developments, including the launch of a new website by the end of the year and a new travel agent training program coinciding with the 2018 edition of the Destination France trade show returning early next year.
Marie-Andree Boucher of Atout France (right) speaks with Frederique Alleon, press manager for Evian Tourism
Here’s what’s new with each of Atout France’s participating travel partners:
It was in 1958 that Air Canada launched its first direct Montreal-Paris flight and in keeping with that spirit 60 years later, the airline will launch its direct Vancouver-Paris service in June. According to Simona Cercel, tourism and sales development manager for Air Canada, the new service will run four times per week and will operate on the new Dreamliner B787.
“More and more Canadian tourists are coming every year,” said Olivia Poncy, North American representative for Auvergne Rhone-Alpes Tourism, a figure which she says has been helped with increases in direct flights. The French Alps will see 10 new hotel openings in 2018, Poncy said, including a new Four Seasons (the first to open in the mountain range) and a new Club Med ski village.
While it’s most known for the popular brand of water named after the city, there’s much more to Evian, said Frederique Alleon, press manager for Evian Tourism. Next June, the city will welcome a new Picasso exhibit (running until October), as well the annual Evian Golf Championship, taking place in September.
Sports will be a major draw to the Loire Valley next July, said Vanessa Monfort and Ingrid Perrais of Loire Valley and the city of La Baule respectively. The month begins with the Golden Globe sailboat race on July 1, followed by the 2018 Tour de France departs La Baule on July 10.
Dubbed the most creative city in France by the U.K. Sunday Times in 2015, the city is continually living up to that reputation, said Xavier Theret, international marketing manager for Nantes. Partly responsible for the designation was the 2007 Estuarie project, which saw a massive investment in local arts and culture with more than 30 artworks along the Loire River, while a new art-themed itinerary (including works never before seen from a private art collector) brings travellers north along the Loire from Nantes to the nearby city of Rennes, culminating at the famed Mont St Michel.