Minister outlines steps to boost language visits to France
Tourism/“Immersion in France” seminar – Speech by M. Matthias Fekl, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, the Promotion of Tourism and French Nationals Abroad (excerpts)
Paris, 15 June 2015
As you know, the government has made tourism one of its national priorities. Under the auspices of M. Laurent Fabius, the Tourism Conference organized in June 2014 provided an opportunity to announce 30 decisions, virtually all of which have been implemented.
These decisions concern welcome, hospitality – and there’s sometimes significant progress to be made on this –, promotion, and support for stakeholders on the ground in terms of the digital transition and social tourism. (…)
For too long, tourism in our country has been underestimated. It’s a fully-fledged economic sector, accounting for 7-8% of our national wealth and two million jobs, nearly all of them unrelocatable. France is the world’s leading tourist destination, according to figures from the World Tourism Organization, with nearly 84 million foreign tourists welcomed to our country over the past year. (…)
Today, 125 million people around the world are learning French, and more than a million a year register with our Institut français and Alliance française network. Actual language visits to France generate a million overnight stays and a turnover of more than €115 million. This is not negligible, and yet we can certainly still do a lot better. (…)
In France we have an extremely professional and high-quality sector. You’re its representatives. The sector is identifiable thanks to the French as a Foreign Language Quality Label. So we must make the most of these opportunities and give ourselves the means to attract ever more visitors to France.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development, whose remit today combines all the country’s external activity, has taken many actions to this effect: facilitating and simplifying visa procedures, with faster issuing times, and signing [agreements on] holiday work visas with other countries. Last November, a France Alumni network was created, enabling students who have received higher education in France to remain in contact and make full use, in a professional framework, of the time they’ve spent here, because as we know, studies are a time when links are forged, most often unbreakable ones – professional but also human links that last a lifetime.
Furthermore, from November this year onwards, the new “Studies in France” platform will simplify registration procedures for foreign students wishing to pursue their studies in France. Finally, at the end of the year, the “Immersion in France” app developed by Campus France will be a first tool for ensuring that the language visits offer in France is better promoted internationally and for facilitating immersion for tourists and young professionals. As part of the same drive, language visits for students must be promoted more, both by our embassies and by Campus France offices, but also by all stakeholders in the system and the sector. (…)./.