Report from French Affairs in Chicago

The general session at the 6th annual French Affairs provided us with some interesting statistics about tourism in France. The American tourist market has been broken down as follows:
• 10% are from California
• 7% are from Florida
• 5% are from Illinois
• 5% are from Texas
• 4% are from Pennsylvania
• 63% of visitors are “repeaters”

Director of the Americas for Maison de la France, Jean-Philippe Perol, told us that French tourism by Americans is down 5 to 10 percent in 2008. The plan is to increase tourist revenue to 5 billion euros by 2010. Additional plans are to give marketing priorities for e-medias and to use events and Franceguide, the official tourist publication for France, as marketing tools.

And since the exchange rate is expected to be 1.3 euros for every dollar (down from 1.5), according to Perol, this will make France a more viable market for Americans.

France is the second-biggest market in Europe, next to the UK. Still, Perol says that France is not an easy product to sell, and that travel agents should promote France as a cultural experience, not just as “a place to go,” and as an “investment in yourself.” France, Perol says, is all about “the pleasure of living.”  

At the event's gala dinner, awards were given out to tour operators. Here are the winners:
Best Website: Bella Terra Travel
Best Brochure: Abercrombie & Kent
Special Interest Offer: The International Kitchen
Most Extensive Offer: Enchanted France
Most Active Partner: Euroquest
Best Overseas Offer: Tahiti Legends
Best Tour Operator of the Year: Air France Holidays