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French booth at WTM : The Great War in the Aisne department attracts British tour operators

French exhibitors are rather statisfied with WTL

At 2016 World Travel Market, on the French booth supervised by Atout France, dozens of French exhbitors welcome visitors. Questioned by, they say they were not really asked about the terrorist attacks and they noticed a strong interest from British, American, Eastern European and Indian tour operators.

Rédigé par La Rédaction le Mardi 8 Novembre 2016

French exhibitors at WTM 2016 - Photo : P.C.
French exhibitors at WTM 2016 - Photo : P.C.
On the World Travel Market (WTM) 2016 opening day (Monday November 7 2016), the morning was rather calm. Activity on the French booth reached a peak late afternoon.

"Travellers landed mid-day and we kept on welcoming visitors from noon until closing time.", says Antoine Gilbert, in charge of marketing development for leisure clients, groups and individuals at Balladins.

He adds, " The fair is very well organized but difficult to access." On Tuesday November 8 2016, it took him 2 hours from his hotel to reach the London Excel exhibitions park, where the 2016 WTM is located.

November 8 2016 was a very busy day on his stand. Meetings with Indian, Eastern European, Italian and American tour operators are on the menu.

Appointments were made and confirmed prior to the fair's opening, through an on-line platform available to exhibitors and visitors on WTM.

"We won't be coming if it was not because of Atout France"

Pauline Bal, Marketing assistant at Compagnie des Alpes in charge of Les Ménuires Saint-Martin de Belleville ski destination wishes she was that lucky.

"There have been many technical problems on the platform and I haven't been able to secure many appointments aheadIl y a eu beaucoup de bugs , she regrets. But that's ok as many visitors stop by anyway."

Pauline Bal shares a booth with Frédérick Béroud, communication and marketing manager at Val Thorens Tours. "We hope to have more people stopping by Tuesday, she explains. But we are lucky to take advantage of Atout France visibility."

She adds: "If we were not to be with Atout France we wouldn't be coming to this fair".

On his end, Benjamin Monnerot-Dumaine, Assistant to the Development service manager at musée du Quai Branly, regrets the lack of visibilty for the French booth, in comparison with Italy for instance.

"It needs to be more noticeable and we need that Atout France shows that French destination is an important one despite the difficult times", he says.

He was also disappointed with the platform as it only identifies exhibitors and visitors'names but doesn't recognise organisations.

"Very little questions about the terrorist attacks"

When asked about vistors'concerns regarding the terrorist attacks in France, he says he had very little questions if not at all.

Same situation on the Nice Convention and Visitors Bureau stand.

Nadja Graf, Leisure development manager says: "Very little people ask about the July 14 2016 terrorist attacks.

But I make a point to talk about it to visitors and to tell them chances are little this will happen again soon."

But she admits the tourist number in Nice in 2016 has dramaticall dropped. She adds: "We do not expect to have a great year 2017 either"

However she has a lot of meetings on this WTM edition. Her interlocutors are mainly British and American Tour Operators and agencies specliazed in group travels working on journeys worldwide.

The Great War in Aisne

On the French Booth, British professionals come massively. They are mainly interested in the Aisne Tourism stand.

Christelle Clément, Marketing and promotion manager, says:"British visitors are very interested in our programs and in our region. They want to know what events will take place in the department in 2017".

There were numerous British soldiers who were involved in the First World War on the French ground. Specially in the Aisne region.

The topic developped in partnership with Atout France and several other nearby departments attracts a lot of British travellers and tourism professionals.

They will be numerous to plan trips to the Aisne region and to discover the new monument dedicated to British rugbymen, a battalion who fell on the Chemin des Dames during the Great War. The monument will be unveiled in September 2017.

This subject was massively presented to the press and many other British TO invited to a networking session on the Aisne Tourism stand.

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