By  on February 6, 2014

PARIS — Nineteen French firms — including Groupe Galeries Lafayette and Kering — on Thursday launched a new organization aimed at promoting tourism in France, which remains the world’s top destination for overseas visitors in volume terms, but has been steadily losing market share.

Alliance 46.2 takes its name from the latitude and longitude of France and is made up of companies from sectors including travel, hotel, retail, food and events.

Its founders are Accor; Aéroports de Paris; APST; BNP Paribas; Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations; Cityvision; Club Méditerranée; Compagnie des Alpes; Elior; Euro Disney; Groupe Galeries Lafayette; GL Events; Groupe Flo; Kering; Lagardère Services; Groupe Lucien Barrière; Groupe Pierre & Vacances-Center Parcs; SNCF and Viparis.

Frédéric Pierret, managing director of Alliance 46.2, said it was urgent for France to step up its efforts to attract foreign visitors in the face of growing competition from the United States and China, which in recent years have enacted laws to promote tourism.

“Our country, which has so many assets, must be careful not to lose market share, to monitor the level of its investments, and to keep an eye on average spending by visitors, which tends to lag our direct competitors. We feel that a group of large companies can contribute to this new expansion,” he said.

France welcomed 83 million visitors in 2012, but has been falling behind neighbors like Spain and Germany in terms of the growth in visitor numbers and revenues since 2000, according to statistics provided by the organization.

Alliance 46.2 said that if spending per tourist in France were on a par with the United States, the industry would earn an additional 65.3 billion euros, or $88.3 billion at current exchange, per year and generate 400,000 new jobs.

Philippe Houzé, chief executive officer of Groupes Galeries Lafayette and one of three vice presidents of Alliance 46.2, said it was unclear why France was lagging.

“One of the aims of this alliance is to study precisely the different factors at play in order to see how we can improve,” he said. “Shopping is a real factor. This is a fairly new dimension that has emerged in the last five or six years, and which must now be integrated into the value chain of tourist stays in France.”

Alliance 46.2 has created working groups around four subjects: visitor welcome, promotion, jobs and training, and investment. They are expected to issue their first recommendations in the next few weeks on topics including tourist security, visa delivery procedures and the rules governing stores opening on Sundays.

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