Atout France Launches Its Second #ExploreFrance Festival – Wine Tourism Edition
Organised by Atout France, the second edition of the #ExploreFrance Festival takes place in London from 11-17 September 2023 and shines the spotlight on wine tourism.
The festival is entirely dedicated to promoting French wine tourism destinations, targeting British travellers with a series of professional and public events that position France as a key oenological and eco-responsible tourist destination in Europe and highlight its importance in UK-France trade. The festival will include B2B and press activities for French partners over three days and is supported by a week-long cultural programme around wine for the general public, held at the Institut Français.
The universal appeal of wine tourism in France, its diverse range of products and services and its economic importance in UK-France trade make it a strategic topic in this second year of tourism recovery. The festival aims to raise the profile of France’s vineyards by levering on the country’s rich culture, gastronomy and hotel scene.
The festival’s main public event is an evening wine tasting and panel moderated by the editor of Food & Travel on Thursday 14 September at the Institut Français in South Kensington, London. Tickets are available directly from the Institut Français website. This is complemented by a week-long programme of screenings of modern and classic films and documentaries linked to wine and/or France, plus a special wine menu on offer at the Institut’s restaurant La Gazette.
For professionals, a VIP event sponsored by Club Med will be held at St Paul’s Cathedral, an iconic venue at the heart of the former Wine Merchants’ district. The event will include networking for top-tier tour operators and travel agencies plus press and influencers, with a wine tasting led by Club Vino. Two private tours of St Paul’s Cathedral will follow and a quiz – with luxury prizes for the winners – will close the evening.
Also for professionals, a two-day B2B workshop will take place on Wednesday 13 and Thursday 14 September at the Leonardo Royal Hotel St Paul’s, as part of the Global Travel Marketplace organised by Jacobs Media Group. The two days will include one-to-one meetings, interactive learning sessions, panels and networking. Wednesday will end with an ‘Apéritif a la Française’ cocktail reception on the hotel rooftop, celebrating France’s wine tourism tradition.
For the press, the festival incorporates a sustainability-themed lunch sponsored by Brittany Ferries. A select group of green travel media will be invited to FARE Restaurant on Old Street to learn more about France’s eco-responsible and wine tourism from a panel of keynote speakers recruited by Atout France, followed by an informal networking lunch.
Supported by an extensive B2C and B2B communication plan to include dedicated website pages, newsletters and social media, the festival aims to inspire British travellers to book both long and short stays in and around France’s vineyards. France offers optimum proximity and accessibility by sea, land and air for British travellers, who also benefit from increased spending power with tax-free shopping available since the implementation of Brexit in 2021.
There are encouraging signs for traffic between the UK and the continent in the months and years ahead: the Eurostar-Thalys merger aims for 30 million passengers by 2030, air capacity has almost reached 2019 levels for second semester 2023, while new transport routes to France have opened and former routes have reopened.
France’s booming and ever more eco-responsible wine tourism makes it a coveted destination for wine lovers too. Changes in traveller expectations are increasingly falling in line with wine tourism holidays: road trips, getting off the beaten track, meeting producers and enjoying experiences based on local savoir-faire are the major themes for 2023/24. Last but not least, the British are major wine consumers – according to a recent study by VisitBritain, 42% of tourists would consider visiting a winery during a trip abroad.
Gwénaëlle Delos, Managing Director, Atout France UK & Ireland:
“We are delighted to be launching our second #ExploreFrance Festival. Wine tourism represents a major part of what we can offer in France – there is attractive new quality accommodation and the option of combining wine with cycling, gastronomy and cultural discoveries. The initial assessment of France’s summer season looks positive, with international air arrivals up 29% on 2022, driven by the significant return of North and South American travellers and a marked upturn in arrivals from Asia-Pacific. European customers, particularly from the UK, also returned this summer. The expected level of revenue for 2023 should therefore rise by around 6% compared with 2022.”
The partner French destinations and suppliers involved in the festival are:
Atlantic Loire Valley Vineyards
Nouvelle-Aquitaine Regional Tourism Board, accompanied by Bordeaux Wine Trip, Explore Cognac, La Nauve Hôtel & Jardin, Hennessy – Les Visites and Château de Cognac
Vaucluse Provence Tourisme, Provence Tourisme and Château La Coste