French authorities are targeting tourism as part of an effort to bolster the country’s wine industry against rising global competition.
While France is already the world’s most popular tourist destination, with wine a major part of its appeal, the trade thinks it can go a lot further in tapping into visitor interest.
The government is unveiling a body to promote wine tourism, headed by international tourism and leisure industry veteran Paul Dubrule.
He is the co-founder of French hotel group Accor and author of a government-commissioned report on developing tourism around wine.
“We’ve fallen behind (other countries) in terms of marketing our offer,” said Camille Barnier, head of wine tourism at Burgundy wine association BIVB.
“We’ve rested a bit on our laurels.”
Promoting wine tourism is part of a government five-year plan unveiled in 2008 to modernize the wine industry in France and make it more competitive on the world market.
Among the government’s aims are to raise wine exports to 16 million hectolitres by 2013, versus 13.5 million on average in 1990-2000 and increase the price ratio of French wine to more than twice world prices, versus 1.9 during 1990-2000.
A priority of the new wine tourism committee will be to improve links between wine producers and tourism operators like hotels and restaurants.
A lack of co-ordination between different players has limited the takeoff of tourist activities by wine producers, said Jeremy Arnaud, marketing director for the Cahors wine trade.
“The issue now is proving that this can be a new source of revenue for producers.”