FRANCE’S development tourism agency, Atout France, is strengthening its foothold in Davao as a tourism market.
With this, French tourism professionals from Atout France with partners from Lourdes Tourism Board, Avignon Tourism Board, Chartres Tourism Board, as well as French hotel chain The Original Human Hotels visited Davao City for a press gathering to introduce destinations especially for spiritual tourism.
For the past three years, France has been conducting promotion missions in Manila and Cebu. It is only this year that they included Davao City in their stops for the roadshow.
Atout France Southeast Asian Director Morad Tayebi said after he shared that he wanted to explore more cities in the Philippines, the Philippine Travel Agencies Association was quick to suggest Davao City.
“We observed that there are a number of travel agencies working in outbound tourism services, so we chose to add Davao City,” he said.
Focusing on spiritual destination, France has several important sites such as Lourdes-the birth place of St-Bernadette; Nevers- the resting place of St. Bernadette, Lisieux and Alençon with its connection to St. Theresa; Avignon where the Pope’s palace was situated in the 14th century, and many more.
France hosts 50,000 religious sites, 10,000 of which are protected “Historic Buildings”. The tourism official also shared that 44 percent of cultural visits in France has a religious purpose.
Beyond spiritual tourism, France has a wide variety of destinations to offer, from beaches, mountains, countryside, monuments to French gastronomy.
“For a first-time visitor in France, maybe 10 days is enough to explore initially the country,” he said.
France welcomed 90 million international visitors in 2018, including 110,000 Filipino tourists.
“And the number of visitors is currently rising that is why we are very positive to achieve our target of 130,000 Filipino tourists by end of this year,” Tayebi said.
However, the Philippine market still has a long way – maybe five to 10 years – to go before it can reach maximum maturity for France tourism.
Atout France has identified Singapore as its leading market in Southeast Asia followed by Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and then Philippines.
Moreover, Tayebi said they are doing Business-to-Business events, familiarity tours, and social media/online and offline campaigns to promote France’s destinations here.