French Ambassador’s Travel Awards Soiree
French Ambassador’s Travel Awards Soiree in Mumbai, Awards and Accolades for Travel Companies
Mumbai, 25th June 2015
A unique initiative was launched by H.E. Mr François Richier, Ambassador of France to India, as a token of appreciation for travel agencies that have programmed France in their published travel itineraries. The initiative culminated in the French Ambassador’s Travel Awards soiree, which took place at the Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai, on 25th June 2015.
A series of positive developments over the last two years have resulted in a stronger positioning of France as a travel destination. These include effective visa facilitation measures, in particular visa issuance within 48 hours and the opening of new VFS centres all across India. The number of visas issued by French Consulates in India increased by 60% in January-May 2015, as compared to the same period in 2014. A study conducted by Atout France on tour programming trends between 2013 and 2015 also reflects this development. Taking as a base travel itineraries prepared by 30 travel agencies, the analysis brought to light a staggering 166% increase in the inclusion of France in travel itineraries and a 148% increase in the allotment of bed nights for France. This encouraging development led to the creation of the French Ambassador’s Travel Awards, aimed at identifying, acknowledging and rewarding travel companies for their endeavours in the promotion of France as a tourist destination.
Launched in the form of a contest in April 2015, the Ambassador’s Travel Awards encouraged travel agencies to submit their published travel itineraries that promoted France as either a mono-destination or included a minimum of 5 nights in the country. Close to 100 itineraries were received, out of which 10 itineraries were shortlisted and judged by an eminent panel of jury members associated with the travel and tourism industry. Five winners were then selected with prizes divided into the following two categories:
PLATINUM AWARD WINNER - VEENA WORLD
A trip for two to France. Their French experience commences in the cocooned comfort of business class travel courtesy Air France. Travelling within France will be a smooth ride with the complimentary France Rail Passes offered by Rail Europe. Thanks to the active participation of our French regions, our winners will experience a stay in Pays de la Loire (Nantes and La Baule), Centre Val de Loire (Tours and its surroundings), Aquitaine (Bordeaux and its surroundings), Midi- Pyrenées (Toulouse, the charming villages of Midi-Pyrenées and Lourdes) and Paris. While in Paris, our winners will have the chance to experience culinary encounters in the form of a baking workshop offered by Le Cordon Bleu, and an entertaining evening comprising a dinner, a show and a private visit of the Paradis Latin. They will enjoy the best of Parisian hospitality at Hotel Scribe, courtesy Accor Hotels.
DIAMOND AWARD WINNER - HOLIDAYS@LEISURE
A relaxing 2-night/3-day stay at the very exclusive Relais & Chateaux establishment - Purity in Kerala, courtesy Relais & Chateaux
GOLD AWARD WINNER - MERCURY TRAVELS
A 2-night/3-day stay at the Grand Mercure Shrem Resort in Goa, courtesy the Accor Group of Hotels
DIAMOND AWARD - THOMAS COOK INDIA LTD for registering the highest number of visa issuances.
A wellness treatment experience and a gift hamper, courtesy L’Occitane.
GOLD AWARD - COX AND KINGS LTD for registering the best growth in French visa issuance
A gourmet dinner for two, courtesy Le Cordon Bleu, at the Sassy Spoon in Mumbai.
During this event, Ambassador Richier said, "In 2014, France was again the number one global tourist destination in terms of volumes, with 83.7 million visitors. We welcomed 359 Indian visitors in 2014. I was extremely pleased to learn of the proactive support extended by travel agencies in India, which resulted in a staggering 166% increase in the inclusion of France in travel itineraries. All these positive developments will continue to forge the links and mutual understanding between France and India, two countries of great heritage and culture.”
In addition to the awards ceremony, the evening, which was powered by VFS Global, was also the occasion to bid farewell to Ms Catherine Oden, Director - Atout France in India, who will be soon leaving India to take up her next assignment in China. Ms Oden will be succeeded by Ms Sheetal Wadhwa-Munshaw, Director - Avant Garde Consulting and Representative of Chamonix Mont Blanc in India. Ms Munshaw has also served as the former Deputy Director of Atout France in India.
"The last 6 years in India have been a good amalgamation of successful and challenging experiences. I have enjoyed my time discovering this wonderful country and its warm and welcoming people. Our endeavours to promote France through promotional and communication platforms have always been well supported by Ambassador François Richier, his team, the trade, and the press, for which I would like to express my sincere gratitude."
Invited guests were treated to a delectable spread of Indo-French delicacies well paired with French wines and champagne. The performance of a jazz troika featuring the talented Gino Banks created the perfect musical ambience for a memorable soiree.