Pack your bags for Paris 2024

With France leaving no stone unturned to make the 2024 Summer Olympics in July-August a success, Sheetal Munshaw, Director, Atout France India, explains why it’s the best time for Indian travellers to explore their country in all its glory.

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All eyes will be on France this year, courtesy Olympic Games 2024. How Atout France plans to make the most out of this big event to push the destination?

The games are about to witness many firsts as they make their way to the French Capital. To begin with, for the first time ever the Opening Ceremony will be held in the city centre and at the very heart of the city, along its main artery, the river Seine, allowing for more visitors to partake in the celebration, and that too at no admission fee, is certainly a major first.

Majority of the sports will feature hospitality experiences, tickets are sold on a single, centralised platform and its handpicked distributors making it easier for fans all around the world to purchase tickets securely and fairly. Visitors will also have access to venues by bike and cycling paths with 3,000 additional velibs being made available, giving them a chance to truly explore the city and its environs like a Parisian and do so responsibly.

Using 95 per cent of its existing or temporary venues, the Paris Games seek to be efficient and environment-friendly. Many events will be held in existing well-known stadiums whose facilities are perfectly suited to an event of this magnitude: the Roland-Garros Stadium, Parc des Princes, Accor Arena, Stade de France, Golf National as well as the Vélodrome National. In terms of gastronomy, Paris will be catering to athletes, volunteers, spectators and all the players linked to the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games. More than 13 million meals will be dished out, making it one of the world’s largest catering events.

What all strategic activities have you planned for your travel partners/ agents to attract more tourists?

Our regular scope of activities include our annual B2B Workshop Explore France – our flagship event, media and agent familiarisation trips to France, participation of Indian agents at several thematic workshops in France, B2B and B2C campaigns among others. In the recent past, we also launched a multi-market e-learning programme France Connaisseur, which received an enthusiastic response from the Indian travel trade. On the logistical front, visa facilitation has always been a key element and our network with the embassy and consular services is seamless and aligned to better facilitate travel to France.

Could you please share the number of Indian tourists that visited the country last year and how much jump you are expecting in that number in 2024?

India has witnessed a robust recovery post pandemic. With 549,770 visitors in 2023 (source Oxford Economics), it was 78.5 per cent recovery versus 700,000 visitors in 2019. We are hopeful to attain our pre-pandemic figures by the end of 2024 or 2025.

From India, which segment of travellers you are targeting? Do you get queries for large M!CE groups and is it easier to cater to them in terms of food, experience, and ease of travel?

We see an evolution in the traveller profile from India, notably post-Covid, and we see this across segments. The Indian traveller is far more inclined to seek new experiences. Families remain a mainstay, but we also see an increase in small groups, women only travellers, edutours with school groups, youth travelling around events and concerts et al. We definitely see an interest in sports tourism. Couples have always loved France and associated it with its romanticism, but we also see more and more gastronomes and oenophiles exploring France.

 

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