Targeting the top step of the sustainable tourism podium

The vision of Michel Durrieu – General Director, Regional Tourism Board, Nouvelle-Aquitaine

With the quality of accommodation in Nouvelle-Aquitaine constantly on the rise, it is no surprise that the regional authority’s ambition is to make Nouvelle-Aquitaine the most attractive region to visit in France. Michel Durrieu explains the current place of tourism in the region.

Our objective is to become the N°1 sustainable destination in France and Europe. Of all the French regions, Nouvelle-Aquitaine is the #1 holiday destination for French people and is approaching the leading trio for foreign visitors. Nearly 28 million tourists visited the area in 2017. Arrivals of foreign visitors by air are up 40% over the past ve years, and with the high speed train (LGV), meaning Poitiers is just one hour from Paris, and Bordeaux just 2 hours from the capital, visitor numbers are rising exponentially. With our famous world brands such as Bordeaux, the Dordogne Valley, Biarritz Pays Basque, the Pyrenees, the Atlantic Coast and Cognac, the region aims to attract an increasing number of tourists who are fond of authenticity, French “art de vivre”, gastronomy, culture, breath-taking natural landscapes and innovative and unique experiences.

What are your short to medium term goals?

Nouvelle-Aquitaine has all the assets to be an unmissable destination of international tourism. The objective is also to position the region on the podium of French destinations for international tourists, just behind Paris and the Provence – Côte d’Azur. The bar of 30 million tourists will soon be exceeded, but an increase in number is not the goal. It is most important to look at the incomes and jobs created and be respectful of the environment and the people. Exceeding €18bn revenue and more than 140,000 jobs by 2020 seems realistic.

After working in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, you have a “different take” on the promotion of regional tourism…

This experience has been very helpful in developing my understanding of the global issues related to the development of this sector of activity in terms of value creation as well as jobs. My seat as Permanent Representative of France in the UNWTO has also allowed me to foster a great number of connections. I now intend to leverage this network of contacts in the service of Nouvelle- Aquitaine to raise awareness about the exceptional richness of its destinations. It’s a big challenge! Larger than Austria and more populous than Denmark, the region has the means of its ambitions: to become the unavoidable destination when it comes to French art de vivre, a destination of authenticity and unprecedented experiences, and THE destination for innovative, sustainable and resolutely forward-looking tourism.