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.

NISHA VERMA FROM FRANCE

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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