The French government is seeking to attract at least 130,000 Filipino tourists to its numerous medieval towns & religious destinations by end of 2019.
Morad Tayebi, Southeast Asian director for Atout-France, the European nation’s Development Tourism Agency, said Filipino tourists in France reached around 110,000 in 2018, 44 percent of whom travelled for religious purposes.
“The good about Filipino market is they usually combine shopping, pilgrimage, cultural visits, even sports some times,” he told reporters.
“This year, hopefully, we reach 130,000 or maybe more.”
Tayebi said Atout-France already organized familiarization trips for several Filipino travel agents to visit their key spiritual destinations.
The Atout-France and its partners, Tourism Boards from Lourdes, Avignon, and Chartes, as well as French hotel chain The Original Hotels conducted their fourth visit to the Philippines to touch base with the media and travel sector focused on Catholic pilgrimages.
Last year, the roadshow was held in Manila and Cebu. This year, similar activities such as workshops and press gatherings were also organized in Davao City.
France has about 50,000 religious sites wherein around 10,000 are protected “historical buildings.” Of this number, 11 are UNESCO world heritage sites, including the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris.
Aside from Paris, France offers other religious sites once connected to some key Catholic figures such as Lourdes, the birthplace of St. Bernadette; Nevers, her resting place; Lisieux and Alencon with its connection to St. Theresa; and Avignon where the Pope’s palace was situated in the 14th century and is also the largest Gothic palace in the world.
In an effort to increase the number of Filipino tourists in France, the French Embassy in Manila has implemented the delivery of visas within 48 hours after submitting to VFS Global, France’s external service provider since 2017.
According to the Embassy, this move helped increase the number of visas issued by their consular section by around 50 percent in 2018. (PNA)
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