French official: Cebu good market for spiritual tourism
Cebu and the rest of the Philippines remain a good market for France’s spiritual tourism, according to Morad Tayebi, Atout France regional director for Southeast Asia.
Atout France is the country’s tourism development authority tasked with promoting France and developing French tourism economy.
Tayebi, along with tourism officials from various French tourist destinations and a representative of a cooperative of hotels, visited Manila and Cebu to meet with local tour operators and promote the various tourist sites and upcoming activities in France.
In 2017, Filipinos who visited France reached a little over 90,000, said Tayebi, who added that they were expecting this figure to increase this year.
This meant a 20 percent increase in Filipino visitors when compared to that of 2016.
In fact, he stressed that France has been recognized as the first destination visited by the Filipinos ahead of Italy and United Kingdom.
This is because most Filipinos are Catholics and France offers a rich and diverse destination for spiritual tourism, Tayebi added.
France has 50,000 religious buildings, 10,000 of which are listed as protected historical monuments. Some sites, such as Chartres, Mont Saint Michel, Rocamadour, Vezelay, are even listed as Unesco world heritage sites. On top of these France has 163 shrines.
Last year, France’s tourist arrivals reached around 88 million, posting a growth of 9 percent over that of 2016.
“We expect (2018) a very good year,” Tayebi added.
Tayebi expressed confidence the number of Filipinos would increase further this year, especially since they had arranged several activities to promote France.
These activities included familiarization tours for tour operators in the Philippines.
In addition, he noted that they would be offering 48-hour processing of visas, which would encourage more Filipinos to visit their country.
In northwest France, Paris remains the major attraction but it also offers various experiences in other areas.
The region of Normandy would appeal to lovers of impressionism, culture, nature and gastronomy while another region offers myths and legends, also gastronomy and festivities for the visitors.
In the northeast, one will enjoy the historical heritage with tourism sites that include several basilicas, works of arts displayed in museums, grottoes, and 11 caves where one can view 28,000-year-old paintings.
In the southeast, visitors also see a glimpse of history and spirituality with the numerous basilicas, churches and several monasteries.
For those who would like to savor serenity, the SEH United Hoteliers, the first multi-brand cooperative in Europe, offers different categories of accommodations.
Matteo Dell’Orto, sales manager for SEH United Hoteliers groups department, explained that each member-property is independent of each other.
However, there are five categories. These are Relais Du Silence, the top of the range hotels that are three to five-star levels; traditional hotel-chalets, 4 to 5 star accommodations in the mountains; the 3 to 4 star Qualys-Hotel located at the urban areas; the 2 to 3-star Inter-hotel ideal for business travelers; and the 2-star P’tit Dej-Hotel which offers practical, budget and quality accommodations.
The other French tourism officials who joined the promotion activities are Dorine Cheron of the Alencon tourism office, Corine Laussu of the Lourdes tourism office, Sandrine Papini of the Lisieux Normandie tourism office, and Michiko Watanabe of Atout France Tokyo office.
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