Members' news | | Surbhi Kapila
Atout France, the sole tourism development agency of France, recently celebrated the ambassador’s travel awards to strengthen the travel ties between India and France, and boost the footfall of Indian travellers to the European nation.
Atout France – France’s sole tourism development agency – dedicated an evening to the annual Ambassador’s Travel Awards on December 2, 2016. Held in a posh hotel in Mumbai, the event took place in the presence of Alexandre Ziegler, the ambassador of France to India. The awards were marked to further strengthen the ties between the travel fraternities in India and France and boost France as a tourist destination amongst Indians.
According to data, in 2015, France and its capital city, Paris received the maximum footfall of tourists with about 84 million people visiting the country. The destination is also hugely popular amongst outbound Indian travellers. France saw half a million Indians visitors in 2015.
The awards were launched in the form of a contest in October 2016 and invited travel agencies to submit their travel itineraries projecting France as tourist destination in a standalone view or as part of a travel plan with a minimum of four-night stay in the country. An entry of about 100 itineraries was made out of which 15 were shortlisted and judged by a panel of jury members of which Alexandre Ziegler, ambassador of France to India was a part.
“This dynamic initiative endorsed by our Ambassador has given an impetus to our efforts of showcasing France as a leading travel destination. We believe these awards will further reinforce France’s positioning as a preferred destination across segments and will motivate our travel industry partners to create many more innovative handcrafted French travel experiences for their clientele,” said Sheetal Munshaw, Director, Atout France India.
The top three awards that were distributed included trips to France for the winners. SOL trips, a boutique travel company, bagged the diamond award taking away a three nights and four days stay at Samode Safari Lodge Bandhavgarh, a Relais & Chateaux establishment providing French hospitality and art experience in India. SOL trips had presented France as a family-friendly destination.
The gold award was presented to Blue Moon Travels Pvt Ltd for showcasing France as an incentive destination. The company was presented with a two nights and three days stay at the Fairmount hotel in Jaipur.
Cox and Kings, one of the longest established travel agencies, won the gold award, grabbing a two nights and three days stay at the Novotel Shrem Resort & Spa. The company had registered the best growth in French visa issuances.
Awards were also distributed amongst the people from the audience. Usha Nadar and her family were the lucky recipients of the French Schengen visa. Nadar and her family will visit the country for a seven nights and eight day stay in Paris in the Hauts de France and the Pays de la Loire regions.
Amid the celebratory mood, Ziegler also conferred the prestigious French distinction, Knight of the National Order of Merit, on Zubin Karkaria, CEO of VFS Global and the Kuoni Group as well as a member of Atout France’s Advisory Board Council.
Karkaria was recognised for the same for his contribution in conceiving the visa facilitation system and promoting France as a premier travel destination and contributing to strengthening Indo-French ties and facilitating tourism influx.