Indian delegation meets 61 tourism professionals at Atout France’s ‘Marhaba 2022’
The Atout France office in Middle East organised the 8th edition of its B2B showcase ‘Marhaba 2022’ last month held on the occasion of the Dubai Expo 2020. This edition was a special one as the showcase hosted 120 professionals from 11 countries, including the Middle East, and for the first time delegates from India and Israel had the opportunity to meet and interact with 61 tourism professionals from France.
A delegation of 17 key members of the travel trade fraternity pan India represented India at Marhaba 2022. The two-day event at the Expo 2020’s Pavillon France and the Raffles Hotel Dubai, was the first of a joint collaboration between the Atout France offices of Dubai, Israel, India and Russia.
By bringing together travel professionals from these markets, the event aimed to encourage business across the source markets. The attendees had the opportunity to interact with regional French tourism boards, iconic French tourist attractions, high-end shopping options, hotels, palaces, DMCs, transportation companies and amusement parks.
A total of 1,900 pre-programmed one-on-one interactions took place over 2 days enabling French tourism stakeholders such as DMCs, accommodation partners, catering services, transporters, leisure and entertainment parks and shopping centres to showcase their touristic offers.
The event kicked off with an official opening ceremony at the Sofitel Obelisk Hotel and continued with the first workshop session at the French Pavilion at the Dubai Expo. The Paris Regional Tourism Board and La Vallée Village organised a special Paris soiree that took place at the Sofitel Obelisk. The second day started at the Sofitel Obelisk Hotel with a presentation of the Destination Cote d’Azur to tour operators and travel agencies, followed by the second workshop session in the ballroom of the Raffles Hotel.
A press lunch with Destination Cote d’Azur was held, as well as a press conference with Galeries Lafayette. Marhaba 2022 ended with a White Party at the restaurant La Cantine du Faubourg where our guests enjoyed a final evening of networking.
Sheetal Munshaw, Director Atout France India
“Marhaba 2022 was indeed special for us as it is the first time after 2 years that members of the Indian trade networked and interacted with the French partners in person. In the last 2 years, we have been interacting only virtually with our partners and this event will be a semblance of what we knew in pre-pandemic times. It is also special as it’s a first regional collaboration with our own counterparts. Like most organisations, the pandemic divided us geographically but united us virtually and broke many barriers. This is one such foray into bringing our network closer and proving versatile platforms and opportunities for our key stake holders to engage and enrich their business opportunities. As borders open up and travel resumes, Marhaba was the perfect occasion to revive exchanges between our key stake-holders”.
Patrick Branco Ruivo, Director General & MD, SOCIETE D’EXPLOITATION DE LA TOUR EIFFEL SETE
India is a great country and it represents for us a market with a lot of opportunities. Before sanitary crisis, Indian people represented 3% of foreign visitors at the Eiffel Tower, and I think that this number will rise in the future. The Indian market is a one in which we believe very much and offers good prospects for recovery. To better welcome Indian vistors at the Eiffel Tower, we’re thinking about adapting our offer including in the Gustave Eiffel room which is dedicated to B2B events. We’re also in process of setting up personalized visits that we are setting up next fall 2022. All this contributes to provide the best visitor experience.
Participating in Marhaba 2022, I came back delighted and had the opportunity to make many contacts and to explain what we are doing at the Eiffel Tower to attract our visitors. It was so nice to be together after these two years of crisis without any travels. As the GM of the symbol of France, I could see the growing interest of Indians for our country, especially for the celebration of important events. It was very important for me to meet the travel agents from different parts of India and listen to their requests. For example, I understood that it was important to offer vegetarian food in our restaurants or in our Gustave Eiffel room if we wanted to welcome better our Indian guests. The travel agents are also very interested by our strategy to avoid queue with our on line ticketing.
The improvement of the sanitary situation will allow Indians to start travelling again. India represents a country of future for the French tourism market, and the desire to travel is still strong among Indian travellers. I could notice it during Marhaba 2022, individual tourism is developing more and more and the Indians are in perpetual research of new, unique and original travel experiences. And what could be better than a visit to the Eiffel Tower to excite your senses!