Laurent Fabius
19 June 2014

30 concrete decisions for France's position as a global leader in tourism

After six months of work that brought together 400 players from the sector, Laurent Fabius closed the Assises du Tourisme (tourism conferences) with the revelation of an active plan to bolster France's position as a leading international tourist destination. To increase the annual number of visitors from 83 to 100 million, and above all to regain its leading position in terms of revenue, the Government has made 30 concrete decisions, some of which will be effective immediately.
Content published under the Government Valls I from 2014 02nd April to 2014 25th August

France, the world's leading tourist destination but...

 "I think that we can set a simple and rallying objective: France should be the world leader in tourism," the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development summed up at the closure of the Assises du Tourisme.
Tourism is a strategic sector for the French economy and the country's international influence: it represents more than 2 million direct and indirect jobs, accounts for over 7% of national wealth, and brings a surplus of over €12 billion every year to our trade balance.
With 83 million foreign tourists welcomed in France, tourism is a showcase for the country abroad. The vast majority of these tourists are European but we also receive nearly 3 million Americans each year, 2 million from the African continent and 1.5 million Chinese. As for the French themselves, for the 60% that go on holiday every year, France is the destination of choice for 80% of them.
Yes, since the 1980s France has been the world's leading tourist destination. But in terms of revenue, our country is currently ranked just 3rd behind the United States and Spain.
In a sector with an increasing number of competitors, and as the number of tourists is set to increase from 1 billion today to 2 billion in 2030, we must adapt, correct our shortcomings and anticipate changes. "On the one hand, the nature of tourism and the experiences tourists seek are evolving: a shift from group tourism to individual tourism, the search to appeal to the younger generations, increased expectations of quality, etc. On the other hand, the competition from other destinations which rightly reflects the quality of service and squeezes prices as much as possible is and will be increasingly tough," says Laurent Fabius. "If France doubles its number of visitors and therefore its surplus in the balance of services, it would be possible to reduce our external trade deficit by 20%," he added.
Objectives: attract 5% of the one billion additional tourists [expected] and create 500,000 jobs by 2030. The decisions to keep in mind:

Aim 1: Quality and diversified tourism

  • Create 5 centres of excellence so that no customer base is neglected: food/wine, mountain/sport, ecotourism/open-air tourism, tourism centred on French know-how (handicraft, luxury items) and urban/night time tourism. It has been planned that the Investments for the Future Programme will provide €15 million in funding for these centres as of the end of 2014.
  • Diversify the destinations and promote the entire country by drawing on the existing regional marketing strategies (e.g. Bourgogne, Grands Sites en Midi-Pyrénées, Only Lyon brands, etc.). International promotion of these destinations will be conducted in association with Atout France. At the local level, the territorial reform will validate the leading role of the regions.

Aim 2: A better welcome

  • Provide a better welcome at Charles de Gaulle (Roissy) Airport. Some progress can already be seen: Aéroports de Paris has taken the initiative to provide welcome messages on arrival. Other initiatives have also been suggested (information screens in 15 languages, interactive and multilingual terminals for information on Paris, transport, etc.).
  • Provide a better welcome at the Gare du Nord, Europe's main train station which must stand up to comparison with London St Pancras station. The SNCF is launching renovation works as of 2014; these will focus on different zones (including the Eurostar zone, as of 2015).
  • Create an express train connection between Charles de Gaulle (Roissy) Airport and Paris. The Charles-de-Gaulle Express financing plan will be completed by the end of 2015 at the latest and the works will begin in 2017. Tourists should be able to reach the capital in twenty minutes, via a reliable and safe form of transport.
  • Increase the frequency and timeliness of direct trains between Charles de Gaulle (Roissy) Airport and Paris. The Government and the Ile-de-France region are discussing increasing the frequency of trains linking Charles de Gaulle (Roissy) Airport and Paris on the RER B line, particularly in the early morning.
  • A fixed rate for taxi journeys between Charles de Gaulle (Roissy) Airport and Paris to be introduced on 1 January 2015.
  • A bus and taxi lane on the A1 motorway as of 1 January 2015.
  • Extend the "visas in 48 hours" initiative. Launched in China in early 2014, this measure has increased the number of visas granted by 30 to 250%. It will be extended to several Gulf countries, South Africa and India in the next 12 months.
  • Remove the requirement to present a hotel reservation when applying for an individual short-term visa. This measure will be immediately applied to all countries in which it is not prohibited by law.
  • The Talent Passport will allow four-year residence permits to be granted to highly qualified persons, researchers, investors and entrepreneurs. It will be part of the immigration law planned for autumn 2014.
  • The Tourist Safety Plan provides for a 20% increase in police personnel at the main tourist sites as of 2014. Specialised squads have already been deployed at the Gare du Nord train station and will soon be present on the Champs-Elysées.
  • Encourage tourist spending on Sundays. The Government hopes to quickly extend the exemptions granted to the main tourist sites regarding shop hours and Sunday shopping, particularly the department stores on boulevard Haussmann in Paris. It will promote the same development for shops in France's main train stations.

Aim 3: Be at the forefront in the field of e-tourism

  • Implement a free Wi-Fi roll-out plan in tourist-concentrated areas and encourage hotels to install Wi-Fi.
  • Tourist orientation and their mobility across France will be encouraged by the development of innovative services in terms of geolocalisation.

Aim 4: Develop training

A new technological baccalaureate in the Hotel-Restaurant field will be created for the start of the 2015 academic year with reinforced expertise in interpersonal skills and the practice of foreign languages.

Aim 5: Holidays accessible to all

A €75 million fund is now available, notably with the Caisse des Dépôts and the ANCV (National Holiday Vouchers Agency), to improve the touristic heritage accessible to low-income families. An Internet portal will be established in the second half of 2014 by the ANCV to help low-income households to plan their first holidays, with a selection of affordable offers at preferential rates.
For legislative decisions, and in order to speed things up, a streamlining order with a tourism section will be completed in the coming weeks and published before the end of 2014. There is a high demand for this among professionals. It will simplify norms in the key tourism domains, such as construction/urban development standards, safety, accessibility and the environment.