The takeaway from the session chaired by Ashwani Kakkar and attended by H.E. Alexandre Ziegler, Ambassador of The Republic of France to India; Sheetal Munshaw, Director-India, Atout France; Jean Michel Casse, COO, Accor Hotels, India and South Asia; and Aman Nath, Chairman, Neemrana Hotels at BITB India Outbound Summit.  

Tourism was big in France and the country was eyeing crossing the elusive 100 million inbound tourist mark by 2020. The Indian market has grown considerably. In 2017, over 700000 Indians visited France, thus France’s goalpost of courting a million Indian traveller was expected to be achieved.

France considered India an important market and had placed emphasis on educating its hospitality professionals about the preferences of the Indian clientele to better cater to their needs. There was a general belief that Indians expected a high standard of hospitality and French hotels had to put in extra effort to please the Indian client.

The Indian traveller was now more open to new experiences and sample local flavours. Beyond the usual Eiffel Tower, Indians were now sampling wines, local cuisines and travelling to nooks and corners of the European country. Given the changing palate of the outbound, panellists believed that France was favourably poised to attract the outbound. 

Market dynamics had altered too. Panellists collectively concurred that source markets within India had majorly diversified to include almost the entire nation. The south Indian region found special mention as visa application numbers from Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Puducherry had surged by as much as 30 per cent in the past year. Panellists believed that the trend was going to intensify as the Indian traveller matured further.

French envoy stressed that tourism was a serious business and a major contributor to the economy of France and the sector was being given priority treatment by senior members of the government.