Jean-Pierre Courteau talks with Travel Weekly contributing editor
Carla Hunt about the French Government Tourist Office's marketing
programs and plans.
TW: In recent years, the French Government Tourist Office [FGTO]
has greatly expanded its marketing of the French provinces. Will
you comment on the success of this effort?
Courteau: Paris is still the No. 1 destination for U.S.
travelers. However, since two-thirds of those travelers are repeat
visitors, quite naturally they want to see more and more of France.
Beyond Paris, Provence is the most popular region, and Burgundy
this past year enjoyed a 22% increase in U.S. visitors.
And the provinces have stepped up efforts to market their
assets. Last May, Southwest France opened a promotion office in our
New York headquarters, joining three other regional offices:
Western France, the Rhone-Alps and Eastern France. All have been
very active in our trade show and training programs, as well as in
issuing sales guides and working with travel agents through
seminars and fam trips.
TW: You have said that agents need a lot of information to sell
France as profitably as possible. How does the FGTO assist
Courteau: In addition to our travel agents' dedicated
information lines, we have our own Web site [www.francetourism.com]
with hotlinks to tour operator products. We are active on
We publish the bimonthly Focus on France newsletter for agents
and an annual reference roundup of tour products in the
marketplace, and just issued is our 1998 France Discovery Guide,
which continues and expands our promotional focus on active, more
adventurous travel, introduced last year. This guide is a good
sales and learning tool for agents, and copies may be ordered to
give to clients who will find dozens of new -- and commissionable
-- ways to enjoy France.
TW: Will the U.S. travel industry soon be hearing about
Strasbourg, host city for the the ASTA World Congress in 1999?
Courteau: Kickoff for ASTA '99 will come at this year's
convention in Los Angeles, where we will have more exhibition space
and devote more of that space to the Eastern France provinces in
general and Alsace and Strasbourg, its capital, in particular.
There will be a gala Alsatian evening during the Congress, and
October will also mark the opening of a trade promotion campaign of
seminars and special mailings that focus on Alsace.