France is THE world tourist destination. For more than 10 years, France has maintained its position as the leading tourist destination, despite being strongly challenged by Spain and the United States. In 2017, France will surpass its attendance record (held for 7 years) with more than 89 million visitors according to the World Tourism Organization. After the tragic events that occurred in 2016, the favourite destination for tourists is regaining colour, especially on the Mediterranean coast and in the capital.
The country with the tricolour flag is also the historical producer of prestigious appellations that wine lovers from all over the world are fighting for. As the world's leading wine producer, France no longer has to prove itself. Today, the challenge for institutions, companies and winegrowers is clear: to develop a high-potential sector in the French sectors of excellence. It is in this context that Hervé Novelli, former Minister for Trade, Tourism and SMEs, created the Conseil Supérieur de l'Oenotourisme in 2008.
A few years after the creation of the organisation in charge of supporting the development of wine tourism in France, the firstNational Enotourism Conference was held: an event signed Atout France. It is in this context that the Palais des Congrès in Paris, requisitioned for the occasion, welcomed, on November 20th, the main actors of the sector to talk about wine tourism. Between two conferences on cross-cutting themes related to wine tourism, wine professionals, winemakers and institutions were able to exchange in a space set up for the occasion. On the stands highlighting the different wine-producing regions, exhibitors and visitors exchanged ideas and imagined the wine tourism sector in a few years time. Some of them offeredvisits and tastings at the estate, others offered rides on electrically-assisted bicycles (Domaine Rieflé-Landmann) in Alsace or stays in giant barrels (Domaine du Rocher des Dames) in the Côtes du Rhône.
At the end of the afternoon, the President of the CSO announces the drawing up of a set of specifications presenting in 20 measures the areas of improvement to be exploited that will make France the world leader in wine tourism.
In France, in 2016, more than 10 million people will visit French vineyards. This high-potential market and its figures are encouraging for the future of the wine tourism industry. Bordeaux, Champagne, Alsace and Burgundy, the most visited vineyards, enabled France to collect more than 5.2 billion euros in 2016. Rivaling the greats of the Napa Valley (United States) or Rioja (Spain), French vineyards must remain focused on developing the attractiveness of their offer in order to exceed the ambitions evoked by Hervé Novelli.
At a time when the government aims to welcome more than 100 million tourists by 2020 - compared to 87 million last year - wine tourism seems to be the ideal lever to achieve these objectives.
Les Grappes offers many activities and tastings at winegrowers' homes in all French wine-growing regions