France has launched a new campaign to attract more foreign tourists and encourage them to spend more money.
Despite being the most visited country in the world, with 80 million tourists each year, France is currently in third place in terms of revenue. It generated €49.4bn from tourism in 2009, while Spain managed €53.2bn and the US achieved €93.9bn, according to the World Tourism Organisation.
What can be done to boost tourism in France and encourage visitors to spend more? Is there a particular area where France is missing a trick? Connexion newsletter readers share their thoughts...
As long as France continues to devolve its tourism industry down to local level I cannot see how they can ever mount any sort of effective campaign to attract moretourists. For example in central Morbihan we have to visit every town in the area to place brochures as every tourist office is run at local level and is subject to the whims of the local Mairie. It seems impossible to contact potential customers elsewhere in the country and local tourism chiefs just shrug their shoulders and say 'bouche a l'oreille' will work in the end.
I live in the Haute Vienne and I find it difficult to find out what events are on. Other districts round where I live put out a booklet every April/May advising all events in every town on each day. We in the Haute Vienne does not receive this booklet until beginning of July. It would help tourists discover
other places in the Haute Vienne.
Restaurants that open all day
Greater selection of food on menus
Chairs that are comfortable to sit in
Larger cups of coffee
Cleaner toilettes in aires
Better fly catchers
More pubs less bars.
One thing that bugs me is closing the doors at lunch time often for 2 hours, not good stops sales. Being prepared to serve food from a munu all day and not just at lunch time or dinner time.
Better communication skills, these ideas apply to the smaller towns etc, people travelling often find the local camp sites are shut need to have a longer season.
The greatest thing that France could do to improve facilities for tourists is to ignore the 'closed on Mondays and jours feriés' tradition-our local town of Clamecy, which is a sous-prefecture of Nievre, is dead on Mondays and Bank holidays -cafes and restaurants are closed, the tourist office is closed -you see tourists wandering around wondering what to do and where to eat. It certainly does not encourage tourism.
France is considered an expensive country to visit, as far as I am concerned restaurant food is especially expensive.
Having eaten in many different countries I have stopped eating out (we live here) asthe quality of the food served as extremely patchy unless you spend a fortune.
Just as an example the other day we were charged E 4.70 for a cafe crème in Cognac! The same cup would cost you E1.50 almost anywhere in Italy. A salad Nicoise in St Emilion E17, as I do a bit of cooking myself if there were ingredient costing more then E 2.00 in it it was a lot. I now about high labour cost, taxes and so on but other European countries have them as well.
I want to mention that generally things are cheaper in the cities, i.e. Bordeaux, however it is the countryside the tourist want to visit.
The main thing tourists miss in france there are no pubs. Bars are awful unfriendly places in our area of france never open very unfriendly places
I have a love and passion next to none for France and all things French. I visit the Dordogne and more specifically Sarlat each year. The only issue I experience each time I am there is the Tourist Office. They are really not very welcoming and friendly or of much assistance. Every bit of information that I need, I have to ask about. They don't speak English very well and are not spontaneously forthcoming with information in relation to my enquiries. The responses to my questions are usually in monosylables and I walk away from there feeling rather cheated.
The shopkeepers and locals are all very friendly and I now resort to asking around at the coffee shops, souvenir shops and newsagents, the boulangerie and internet cafe for any information I need.
In Lodeve, my nearest town, the Mairie bring in the circus and let them set up in the car parks so that the tourists and French visitors have nowhere to park. Do you think this puts people off coming to the town? It seems the people responsible arent the sharpest knives in the box.
The answer to creating more revenue is blindingly obvious. Be open for business!
Motorhome aires de service are bringing in charges. Some are minimal but the popular ones are now nearly as expensive as French campsite fees. May I suggest local councils monitor the situation as France is the number one destination for most UK motorhomers who holiday abroad. We would hate la belle France to become like rip-off Britain!
The person suggesting that France "cleans up the countryside" is obviously not a regular visitor between UK and France. I have lived in Normandy for 6 years and am always struck how clean and tidy France is after a visit to UK.
One really important way of encouraging UK visitors is special offers by Brittany Ferries but they don't do enough of them. They should offer last minute cheap bookings especially out of season when the ferries are empty. Special 2/3 day breaks on an ongoing basis. I have many friends who would come more ften but the ferry cost is prohibitive and the drive down from Calis too long for a weekend break.
Interstingly when the ferries are full in July/August it can be as much as £400 for a car and 4 passengers but less than £200 when they are empty in Winter.
What can France do to improve tourism?
1 Don't assume holiday makers only want to go on holiday in July & August! The UK has a tourist industry all year round even with their notorious weather! People take breaks all year, Spring, and Autumn! Nothing happens here in the Dordogne until at least May, come the 2nd week in August it almost dies.
2 Put a British person on the Tourist Board.
3 Have a selection of restaurants open on a Monday, especially in the evening, they still want to eat on a Monday!
4 Publish more information - leaflets etc., in English, not everyone reads French. I admit they should try but that isn't the case.
5 Place staff in tourist offices that can actually speak English or have a basic understanding of it.
6 Open the tourist offices throughout lunchtime when plenty of tourists are around.
7 An English sspeaking guide at major tourist attractions, often a vist will only be in French.
I am a lover of France and all things French and speak the language (as well as I can!) but I do think they totally misunderstand the tourist industry.
The overall standard of French hotels is appalling. Most are dirty, unkept, poor quality and over-priced with sloppy service. France needs to look at Spain and United States to see the much higher standard people now expect. France is a beautiful country to visit but only for self-catering tourists where you can have a clean toilet because you have cleaned it yourself.
France needs to realise that not everyone speaks French! Still lacking lots of translations in museums and other tourist sites. Tourist info needs to be centralised, not only in each village.
I have been living in France for 7 years now and have a friend who runs a Chambre d'hotes here. The main problem with holidaying in France is that France does not seem to understand the concept of 'Customer Care'. It is a beautiful country with many attractions but the one complaint my friend receives time and time again from her guests is that France does not cater for foreigners!!
Many of her guests have found it impossible to find a restaurant open on Monday evenings and sometimes Sundays as well. They travel from village to village looking for a place to eat and return to the Chambre d' hotes without having found anywhere. Similarly they dislike having to eat lunch between 12.00 and 2.00 and if they have entered a restaurant at 1.45 are turned away by the proprietor who tells them that they have stopped service. The French may like to eat lunch between 12.00 and 2.00 but when on holiday, people like to eat when it is convenient to them or when they simply feel hungry. It is nonsensical that visitors must abide by the rules the French lay down for themselves. Trying to find a restaurant which is open before 7.00 in the evening is also impossible and sometimes, people need, for whatever reason, to eat before 7.00. These problems are not found in other countries and my friend has guests from all over the world. They find it incomprehensible that they visit France and want to spend their cash whilst doing so and yet, the facilities are so strictly run without any consideration for tourists.
Another complaint is that guided tours are always given in French with no thought for visitors who do not speak the language. How inconsiderate! Recently, whilst visiting Prague, we visited many tourist attractions and the standard language was English although other languages could be accommodated if prior notice was given. However proud the French are of their language, it is not the accepted 'international' language and this needs to be recognised, accepted and dealt with. If France wants to attract tourism and wealth to it's country then it really has to do better than this. So much rigidity and fear of change. Insufficient flexibility to cater for people from around the world. Those who experience this time warp will simply not return!!