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Monday, 16 December, 2019, 11 : 29 AM [IST]

Atout France organises 5th edition of ‘Ambassador’s Travel Awards’ in Mumbai

Atout France, the France Tourism Development Agency, organised one of its flagship events, The Ambassador's Travel Awards in Mumbai on November 21 at Taj Mahal Palace and Towers, Mumbai. These awards were instated in 2015 under the high patronage of the Ambassador of France to India and powered by VFS Global for all its subsequent editions. This year for the first time, the awards received an added impetus with the collaboration of the Reunion Island Tourism Board.

The objective was to recognise and reward a selection of travel agents across India for their exemplary efforts in promoting France as a travel destination both from the destination showcase, visa perspective and the prolific penmanship of a journalist who, through articles, has essayed a versatile presentation of destination France.

Q How do you view the Indo-French relationship through tourism with yet another edition of annual Ambassador's Travel Awards?
The Indo-French relation is exceptional. Our leaders enjoy great personal bonds; our countries have a partnership full of trust, and both nations have supported each other in good and bad times through history. The best way to further strengthen this relationship is through people-to-people exchange. Indians are welcome to France - be it as a student or a tourist. We would like more Indians to visit France, and would do everything possible to make the journey smooth. We are already issuing visas in 48 hours. With the aim to build a strong partnership with tour operators, I am proud to present these awards in recognition of the most creative of them.

Q In the current scenario, when the Indian economy is witnessing a slowdown across business sectors, your expectations from the tourism standpoint for 2020 from India?
I don't see any slowdown in the tourist traffic to France. In fact, France is still an untapped potential destination for Indians, and there is much room for improvement. Currently we have 700,000 Indians visiting France, and this is less than 1% of the foreign visitors to our nation. We could do much more to improve that, and I am pretty confident that by 2025 we can reach the goal of 1 million Indian tourists. Currently, visitors to France are looking at exploring destinations beyond Paris, focusing on wine & cheese, historical sites, and culture spots. This demonstrates that France has a variety to suit every taste.

For the first time this year, a new category of awards was introduced that acknowledged and rewarded the best showcase of France's overseas departments.

The event was also an opportune platform for showcasing the vibrant music of Reunion Island as invited guests were treated to an entertaining performance from the JF Gang, a group of talented musicians who had flown in all the way from Reunion Island for the occasion.


VISA Category:
Diamond Award- Winner for the tour operator that has registered the highest number of visa issuances

Winner: Thomas Cook India Ltd

Prize: A 2-night stay for 2 at the Novotel Goa Resort & Spa courtesy Accor

Destination Showcase
Gold Award - Best Showcase of France as a MICE destination

Winner: SOTC Travel Ltd
Prize: A 2-night sojourn for 2 in Northern France including: A 2-night stay at the Hotel Tiara Mont Royal, entrance tickets for two at the Château de Chantilly Domaine courtesy Northern France Regional

Tourism Board
Diamond Award - Best Showcase of France as an Alpine destination
Winner: Panache World
Prize: An escapade for 2 in the ski resort of Courchevel including: A 2-night stay at Hotel Barrière Les Neiges, courtesy Leading Hotels of the World

Platinum Award:
Best Showcase of France's Overseas Departments

Winner: Erawan Travels
Prize: A week long stay in Reunion Island courtesy Reunion Island Tourism Board and 2 tickets on Air Austral

Platinum Award:
Most Innovative Showcase of France as a Travel Destination Winner: Original Senses
Prize: A business class ticket on Air France to Paris, 2-night stay for 2 at the Plaza Athénée, Paris courtesy Dorchester Collection, a 2-night stay for two in Deauville at the hotel Barrière Le Normandy courtesy InDeauville Tourist Office

Best Journalist Award
Karen Anand: Independent Travel Writer
Prize: A business class ticket to Paris on Air France, 2 nights for 2 at the Sofitel Le Scribe courtesy Accor and 2 nights for 2 at Fauchon l'Hotel courtesy Leading Hotels of the World

Sharing her thoughts, Sheetal Munshaw - Director Atout France said, "The Ambassadors Awards have grown from strength to strength in the last few years and have assumed a pan-India dimension which gives our efforts at showcasing France an added boost. Our source markets have now diversified to include many more cities across the country which indicates a lot of potential for France. A special mention must be made of all our partners who have generously sponsored our awards by graciously offering sojourns in France and India to our winners. This year, in addition to the continued support we've been receiving from VFS Global since the inception of the awards in 2015, we are also extremely pleased to have on board Reunion Island Tourism Board as our partner. Our alliance since October 2018 at showcasing the island and its multi-faceted touristic offering has been a mutually successful one and we are confident that next year will reap in great results for La Réunion."

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