09 JUL 2019: Paris is hot. Literally. But notwithstanding the torrid summer the city is experiencing along with much of Europe, the French capital, in touristic terms, welcomed nearly 50 million visitors in 2018 – a tally that helped support France’s record 90 million visitors last year, which qualified the country as the world’s top tourism destination, according to the World Tourism Organization.

So it was that partners from the most visited city in the world’s most visited country brought a little of that sizzle to Canada recently, conducting a promotional and sales tour designed to update travel professionals in Toronto and Montreal on the latest news from the City of Light through meetings with supplier partners representing heritage, cultural, shopping, entertainment, cruise and dining attractions.

Organized by the Paris Region Tourist Board in conjunction with Atout France, the mission was also meant to “encourage tourists to visit and keep visiting.”

“They adore the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and the Château de Versailles, and they are sure to love the thousand and one other gems that the destination has to offer,” said Marie-Andrée Boucher of Atout France Canada.

Agents at the events were told that the Paris Region is a destination with multiple facets “brimming with energy, and offering, all at once, an exceptional cultural heritage, international exhibitions that should not be missed, and a range of activities that are constantly being renewed: from shopping to gastronomic experiences of the most diverse kind, from cruises to cabarets. From exploring locations that have inspired the great Impressionist painters to the very latest trends in all fields of the arts, the region reinvents itself continuously in order to surprise, seduce and welcome its millions of visitors.”

It was also pointed out that this summer’s World Cup of Soccer for women, which was played in France (including Paris), precedes the 2024 Olympic Games, with both events already having spurred tourism industry initiatives.

Among them:

• Tourism Information Points at airports have been opened to welcome tourists in their own language at city airports and hundreds of tourism and languages students have been enlisted at the main tourist sites of Paris and the Ile-de-France through a new “Tourism Volunteers” program.

• The newly launched Paris Region Pass makes it easier for international visitors to get around from the moment they arrive in Paris. It combines the region’s public transport network, river cruises on the Seine, as well as use of the “hop on/hop off” tourist busses and access to the region’s 60 museums. This contactless pass will be enhanced over the coming months by the addition of new services for tourists.

Despite official nervousness about the lingering effect of the “yellow vest” protest movement in the city, which resulted in a “rocky start” to the year for visitations following the public disruptions that started last fall, the French government is targeting 100 million foreign visitors by 2020. And with more than one in two of them heading to Paris, there’s little doubt that City of Light will continue to shine.

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Michael Baginski

Editor at Large, Mike Baginski is well known and well respected within the industry across Canada, the US, in the Caribbean, Mexico and numerous other destinations outside North America.

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