This regular “favourite destination” just became even more exciting – thanks to new ideas from Atout France

Since the 1980’s, France has boasted of being the #1 global destination in terms of tourist arrivals. For many around the world, it’s a place that must be experienced at least once in a lifetime. In 2015, France welcomed 84.5 million international visitors (a record) and 83 million in 2016, while the goal is to eventually host 100 million visitors by 2020.

This success is of course due to the extremely positive image enjoyed by France on the international scene. A strong image, which distinguishes this nation from other European destinations, but also thanks to the implementation of promotional material and professional training that aims to create a real “desire for France” among even the most demanding travellers. For this, the government has created what it terms “Pôles d’Excellence” (promotion by themes) and “Destination Contracts”, aiming to promote key internal destinations that will add true value to the overall offering.


The “Pôles d’Excellence” have a role of highlighting the best ways to experience and enjoy the destination in different ways. The following “theme holiday” ideas are thus officially being included as an official part of the promotional activity by Atout France, the Government’s destination marketing organisation:

  • Cruising
  • Wine tourism
  • Eco-tourism, national parks, bike routes gastronomy
  • Iconic cultural heritage,
  • A living heritage: capital of fashion, design, festivals, major expos…
  • Night tourism
  • Mountain tourism

They specifically highlight the major vectors of tourism in France and help answer the first question: Why France?

In parallel to this, “destinations reloaded” (Destination Contracts) efficiently complement the arsenal of tools that add to the diversity of the French offer. These are in line with the “destination brands”, a great promotional success story driven by Atout France for several years, launching veritable global brands with a reputation abroad that even exceeds that of the France itself in some countries. Champagne, Bordeaux, Alps Mont Blanc, Provence, Biarritz… their names often lead one to dream… and the experiences they offer add to France’s brand thanks to their uniqueness.

These 16 “destination brands” have been a key general promotional vector for France for several years and can offer visitors a multitude of experiences:

  • Skiing or hiking in the Alps,
  • Staying at a winery in Bordeaux or Burgundy and becoming initiated in oenology,
  • Golfing in Biarritz and the Basque country, Relaxing with a “wellness” holiday in Brittany,
  • Discovering the monuments and museums of France’s cities,
  • Attending a festival or major sporting event,
  • Discovering regional specialities or dining at the table of a “starred” chef…

On the basis of this experience and this success, Atout France has created “Destination Contracts”, which allow to develop new territories, to continue this momentum and thus bring new destinations to attract international visitors.

There are currently 22 such “destinations reloaded” that are especially designed to help professionals respond to the growing expectations of their clients for authenticity, new experiences within the destination itself and revealing the different faces of France.


A Destination Contract brings public and private stakeholders together from the same destination in order to pool human and financial means, search for economies of scale… and this over several years. It simultaneously covers the structuring and development of tourism, the quality of hospitality, promotion on one or several markets as well as a process of collective intelligence.


These two exceptional tools benefit from the incredible “booster” effect of, the internet portal of destination France, created in 2015.

A true showcase of French tourism, the site allows users from around the world to find all information on the experiences to live in France and its various destinations, and this, in 17 languages in the 31 markets covered by the international network of the operator.

Specifically highlighted on the site:

  • Global brands and destinations reloaded
  • Discovery themes (culture, gastronomy, shopping, well-being, etc.)
  • Major events that bring a destination to life,
  • and of course the practical information on travelling to and around France in the best conditions.

Content from the site is regularly relayed on social networks managed by the agency (more than 5 million followers) – another key element in the strategy of Atout France.

At the same time, Atout France collaborates very closely with embassies in all its markets, allowing it to conduct promotions in 70 countries. To this end, Atout France conducts around 3,000 actions annually to promote “destinations reloaded” and theme holidays.

The multichannel marketing strategy of France’s tourism development agency aims both to raise awareness among the general public (campaigns, press inserts, actions on social networks, e-newsletters…) and the press / influencers through conferences and the hosting of journalists and bloggers…

Travel professionals are at the heart of the concerns of Atout France who organise workshops for the presentation of destinations, during which the organisation promotes meetings between French suppliers and travel agents from around the world. Atout France is also present at shows, conducts its own events and organises regular fam tours in France.

Photo: © Atout France – Robert Palomba