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Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur: “Chinese tourism increased by 49% in our region in 2015”

Interview with Bruno James, Executive Director of the Regional Tourism Committee of PACA

6 million tourists visited the Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur region in 2014 with many foreign visitors amongst them. Bruno James, President of the Regional Tourism Committee (CRT), tells us more about the profile of these visitors and explains how the region communicates with them.

le Jeudi 12 Novembre 2015

Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur: “Chinese tourism increased by 49% in our region in 2015”
Guadeloupe Inside - Who are the foreign tourists who visit PACA?

Bruno James: “For non-commercial tourism - visitors who spend on location but who arrange their own accommodations, meaning not staying in hotels - we receive mostly Europeans.

The English are first in line, followed by the Italians and Germans. In terms of commercial tourism, where visitors are paying for their accommodations on location, the United Kingdom and Germany are first in the ranking, the United-States are 4th and China 7th.” - Is Chinese tourism increasing in the region?

Bruno James: “Absolutely. The numbers are truly impressive. This is the highest growth rate of foreign tourists for the year 2015. They were 13th in 2014 with 118,000 nights and rose to 7th this year with 176,000 nights. This accounts for an increase of 49%!” - How do you explain this phenomenal increase of Chinese tourists in PACA?

Bruno James: “First of all, because it is the main tourism market in the world. The Chinese are very plentiful, they travel a lot, and at an increasing rate. This market has a bright future ahead.

And, especially, 80% of Chinese tourists come via a travel agency because it is a lot easier for them to travel this way, contrarily to Europeans. In fact, we have been working on the Chinese market for a while. Every year, we send around twenty tourism professionals from our region to sell our destination in the country towards travel agencies and the press.

We were also the first to set up a large poster to promote our region on one of Shangai’s major towers. It displayed a photo of lavender, and was very successful. It is known that the Chinese love lavender. Recently, the equivalent of the show “Plus Belle la Vie” in China featured the show’s celebrity couple running and kissing in lavender fields…

Since the episode was shot in Valensole, in our backyard, you can image the wonderful impact this had in terms of tourism. Furthermore, Chinese tourists are very well-versed in history and heritage. So they also come to PACA to discover the Count of Monte Cristo’s Castle of If - very popular in China - or the Papal Palace in Avignon” - And with European tourists, how do you communicate?

Bruno James: “Today, these tourists have adopted the habit of traveling in a diversified manner. They jump from place to place and from activity to activity ever more rapidly, just like surfing the web. So we adapted to their needs.

We do not only promote our region as a global destination but we also work per sector or thematic.

For example, we put forward family tourism, eco-tourism, wine tourism, multiple camping sites, golfs… We can equally offer an electric bike tour of vineyards paired with a tasting of a great provincial rosé or suggest a more nature-centered itinerary with hikes in the Verdon and dolphin watching.”

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