CAIRO - 17 December 2018: The French Embassy in Egypt held a press conference last week to launch France.Fr website in Arabic. That is a step forward to reach 100 million tourists by 2020.
“France is the world’s top destination for tourists. We receive every year about 85 million tourists,” Ambassador of France to Egypt Stephane Romatet said explaining that the MENA region is one of the key markets for France.
“We have something in common between France and Egypt. That is Tourism matters,” The ambassador highlighted. “We are launching a new website. France.Fr in Arabic,” Romatet announced.
France.Fr is operated by Atout France which is a public entity in charge of promoting tourism in France worldwide.
Regional Director of Atout France in the Middle East Karim Mekachera stated that tourism represents 8 percent of France’s GDP. “That makes it one of the top industries in the French economy along with automotive. The annual growth rate of the sector is four to five percent,” he said. “Tourism generates €150 billion per year. Of those, €55 billion come from international tourism,” Mekachera stated.
Regional Director of Atout France in the Middle East Karim Mekachera in a press conference in the French Embassy in Egypt to launch France.Fr in Arabic. December 12, 2018 - Egypt Today/Noha El Tawil
As for the decision of launching France.Fr in Arabic, Mekachera explained, “We found it would not be enough to just cooperate with tourism agencies in the Middle Eat so we decided to launch the website.”
“We used to promote destinations in France among professionals but the new step would attract more tourists,” Mekachera added.
“Clusters of Excellence”
Atout France uses social media to direct people to France.Fr website so they would get the necessary information to prepare for a trip to France.
“We have two main pillars in our strategy. One is the clusters of excellence which means identifying what we are good at in France. We are good at the culinary industry, oenology, cultural activities. We have rich history. We are good in sport adventures and shopping,” Mekachera explains.
“We have a variety of destinations such as the countryside, the seaside, the mountains, the cities. We have the fantastic handicraft industry. We lie on top when it comes to the luxury industry,” Mekachera explains. .
“The second pillar is that France - from a marketing perspective - is hard to promote because of the great variety of destinations and activities it has. After brainstorming, we came up with 20 destination brands that are all famous around the world such as Cannes, Leon, Paris, Britany,” Mekachera clarified.
“The website facilitates checking those destinations. We try to have that logic of umbrella brands. Some destinations are less famous compared to others. However, when you hear - for instance - Toulouse you can relate it to a main destination,” Meckachera elaborated.
“The website will enable us for the first time to really address Arabic-speakers very effectively. France.Fr addresses an audience of 200 million Arabic speakers,” Mekachera added.
“Tourists can share with us the photos they have captured during their visits to France and we would put them on social media,”.
The website enables users to check the measures and documents necessary to obtain the visa, and transportation. They can also learn about restaurants, hotels, and museums. All that can be found in the sections Before you Set off, Things to do, Places to go, Happening now in France, and the interactive map.
France. Fr in Arabic is fully adapted. Atout France is very mindful of the Middle Eastern culture when it comes to photos and articles. For instance, there will be no articles on alcohol.
There are now Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts in Arabic. Atout France is eager to do content curation whereas users photos will be posted along with the hashtag #marhaba_faranca in Arabic which means “welcome France.”
The hashtag is inspired by a huge event that was attended by travel agents from around the Arab World, and that was a success. Other hashtags that can be used are #France and #Paris.
The website is optimized to be easily used on mobile phones and tabs which are the source of 90 percent of the traffic on the website by users worldwide.
Visitors can also check restaurants offering Halal food, family activities, events, the weather, the currency, and everything that helps with planning the trip.
Statistics of Tourism in France
“France receives 2.5 million Arab tourists per year with tourists from Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia making up the largest portion at 1.9 million. The rest come from Mashreq, Egypt, and Gulf countries. There are 60,000 from Lebanon, 200,000 from Saudi Arabia, and 160,000 United Arab Emirates,” Mekachera stated.
“Yearly, we receive between 70,000 and 100,000 Egyptian tourists,” ambassador Romatet said.
“Tourists from North Africa stay longer as the average number of days they stay is 9.4. The expenditure of a GCC tourist is around $3,000 - 4,000 per trip,” Mekachera said.
“Tourism was influenced by the terror attack in 2015 that incurred a drop in the number of tourists. Nevertheless, 2017 was an amazing year as the number of tourists bounced back with a growth rate estimated at 6 percent. When the figures for the year 2018 are out, we expect them to be good as well,” Mekachera added.
As for French tourism in Egypt, Mekachera stated that “2010 recorded the highest number of French tourists to Egypt at one million. Then, a drop occurred. In 2017, their number was 115,000.”
“When I talk to Air France, EgyptAir, and professional travel agencies, I find that they are selling Egypt. I think Egypt is back on the touristic map,” Mekachera added.