Skift Take

The tourism group is figuring out how to add an element of urgency to tourists' French aspirations as well as make it accessible to a broader group of tourists who aren't interested in expensive wine and cheese. All things considered, this is a struggle more destinations wish they had.

As the most visited country in the world, France does not need to brand itself. Its name alone is synonymous with romance, great food, and world-renowned art.

France is dealing with a separate tourism problem. Skift recently spoke with Anne-Laure Tuncer, the U.S. director of the French tourism development agency Atout France, who said that France’s biggest problem is its perceived predictability.

“What we are fighting is the cliche. A lot of people think France is predictable,” says Tuncer.

The problem is not getting tourists to France, but getting them out of Paris. Of the 3.1 million Americans who visited France last year, 80 percent of them stayed in the capital.

Niche Experiences

One of the tourism organization’s primary goals is reaching out to first-time visitors and millennials. It is working to promote one-time events, new museum exhibits, and culinary experiences in regions like Lyon and Aix-en-Provence that are located only a few hours away from Paris by high-speed rail.

“We want to reach out to millennials and tell them come to France,” explains Tuncer. “They say, ‘Okay, we want to go to France but we have time. We will go eventually, but right now I want to go to Istanbul or I want to go to Chile.’ That is great, but our message is don’t delay France because exciting things are happening now.”

The French tourism group wants to give visitors with special interests a specific reason to come whether it be for a sporting event, voluntourism opportunity, or restoration project.

According to Atout deputy director Stéphane Ballot, the easiest way to target niche groups and measure the impact of ad campaigns is online.

The organization spends up to 65 percent of its promotional budget on digital marketing.

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Tags: france, marketing, millennials

Photo Credit: Visitors relax in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. Tommie Hansen / Flickr