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Phl seen as potential market for French ‘spiritual tourism’

France has 42 UNESCO world heritage sites, 11 of which are religious. Pictured here is the procession at Lourdes

The Embassy of France to the Philippines and Atout France, the French Tourism Development Agency, will lead a delegation of French tourism professionals in Cebu City and Metro Manila from Feb. 27 to Mar. 3.

After a successful promotion mission in Manila last year, Atout France and its partners, the Lourdes Tourism Board, Lisieux Tourism Board, Avignon Tourism Board as well as the Paris-based travel agency Bipel, will return to the Philippines to touch base with the media and various travel groups specializing in Christian pilgrimages.

Recognizing the huge potential of the Filipino market in spiritual tourism, the French Embassy and Atout France have decided to expand its program to Cebu City, where meetings with the press and a workshop for travel agencies will take place at the Radisson Hotel on Feb. 27.

French Ambassador Thierry Mathou noted the importance of this mission by citing the potential of the Philippines as a market for French tourism.

“We are delighted, once again, to continue the success of the previous mission. Promoting France, the top tourist destination worldwide in terms of arrivals, in the Philippines is strategic because the country is a fast-growing market in Asia for tourism,” Ambassador Mathou said.

“We are already the top European destination for Filipino travelers, and we are committed to maintaining this leading position,” he added.

According to Ambassador Mathou, tourism is also a strategic sector for the Philippines.

“In the context of the 70th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between our two countries and the launch of our “PhilFrance: Feel French!” festival, our intention is to promote the development of tourism both ways. This is the reason why we are actively discussing with the Department of Tourism to implement the Memorandum of Agreement signed by the two countries in 2015 in the sector of tourism.”

This Memorandum of Understanding was signed by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development and the Department of Tourism during the state visit of French President François Hollande to the Philippines in 2015. It seeks to provide a framework for increased cooperation in the tourism sector.