France bids to ‘reignite the old love affair’ with the UK

The French tourism development agency Atout France is readying its biggest UK marketing campaign to promote the whole of France as a holiday destination, rather than just specific regions, as it looks to regain visitor numbers lost to other European countries.

Eiffel Tower

Atout France has appointed Souk Advertising to its creative account with the brief of making the country the number one holiday destination for the UK.

A £2m marketing campaign is currently being created with the working strapline “What’s your Tour de France?”, which will launch at the end of March and leverage the fact that the cycling race’s first stage will take place in Leeds, West Yorkshire next July.

The umbrella campaign is set to feature across print, outdoor and online. It will use “Pinterest-style” creative, featuring pictures of the various types of holidays or destinations France offers. It will also include partner marketing with some of the travel carriers that connect the UK with France. Media planning and buying will be handled by Havas Media.

France has been losing its market share of UK visitors over the last five years as tourists opt to visit destinations such as Spain, Italy and Greece with the view that countries going through a financial crisis may be cheaper.

The most recent data from the Office of National Statistics for 2011 visits, found Spain to be the most popular travel destination for British holidaymakers, with France coming in second place. 

Agnes Angrand, Atout France UK and Ireland deputy director, told Marketing Week : “We came to the idea that there’s a need for a unique France message [in the UK]. For many years we have been advertising across each region, but the general France message sent to the consumer is not present and strong enough in the consumers’ mind.

“We want to put France back on the tourism map and reignite the old love affair between the UK and France. It’s very important to play on that emotional connection, nostalgia and childhood holidays.”

France still attracts the most foreign visits of any other country, with a recent study from the United Nation’s World Tourism Organisation revealing France had 83 million foreign visitors, far ahead of the next most popular tourist destination, the United States, with 67 million. 

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