India Outbound Summit
Destination focus- France and India: together in Tourism.
A keynote address by the Ambassador of France to India, H.E. Mr Alexandre Ziegler at the India Outbound Summit.
New Delhi, 25 April 2019
Dear tourism professionals,
Dear Mrs Kakkar,
It gives me great pleasure to be here today to open this session focusing on tourism cooperation between France and India.
You all know that last week, one of the most visited monuments in France, the Notre-Dame cathedral of Paris, was severely damaged in a tragic fire. Many Indian people expressed their solidarity and sadness on seeing Notre-Dame burn. I was moved to see that one of my favorite monuments in Paris was also deeply loved by people in India. It also highlighted that Paris is a much-loved destination for Indian people, and others across the world.
Indeed, in 2017, France received a staggering 89 million visitors on its shores, with preliminary figures for 2018 indicating over 90 million for 2018. And over 700 000 (7 lakh) Indian tourists visited France in 2017 – twice the number as compared to 2014! In 2018, this figure should cross 8 lakh. France is now the number 1 European destination for Indian tourists.
I believe this is just the beginning of a trend. Over the past five years, Indian visa applications to France registered a +180% increase, a striking upsurge demonstrating that France is ever growing in popularity. In 2018, the number of visa applications grew by 15% as compared with 2017, underpinned by a +43% increase in applications from South India (Consulate of Puducherry).
France is a unique land with a wide array of destinations. And I think that’s the reason behind Indian tourists coming in increasing numbers. Fascinating museums, breathtaking landscapes, renowned gastronomy and art de vivre… Indian tourists are curious and embrace all these experiences that France can offer: You might visit France for a corporate trip, or with your partner for a romantic celebration, en famille, or for experiential holidays, but you will always be offered the best experience. Thanks to our partners in India (Atout France in India, destination managers, tourism professional, lifestyle and travel media), these experiences are being brought to the Indian public.
We are very honoured to witness this upward trend and it is a priority to facilitate Indian tourism in France. Since 2015, we have been issuing visas within 48 hours. In fact, last December, the French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs himself highlighted that our priority was to build up French expertise on welcoming Indian tourists in France. A seminar with French professionals will be held soon in Paris, with a special focus on welcoming MICE trips and Indian weddings. Indeed, professional trips account for over 30% of Indian tourists and we know that France has all it takes to attract more Indian weddings.
I strongly believe that the Indian traveller and France are well suited together. Be assured that we are strongly committed to making it work to its full potential by facilitating tourism in France.
I wish you all a very productive day.