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Tourism/Council for the Promotion of Tourism

Published on October 29, 2014
Press briefing by M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development (excerpts)
Paris, October 22, 2014

Ladies and gentlemen,

We wanted to give you an update following this Council for the Promotion of Tourism session. So I’ll say a few words and then M. Alain Ducasse will present the “Goût de France/Good France” drive, which reflects the approach we’re adopting. (…)

Today I chaired the session for the launch of the Council for the Promotion of Tourism. Gastronomy and oenology: that was the major project we chose to get things under way – I could say to whet our appetites.

As no good introduction fails to quote good writers, this quotation from Brillat Savarin sticks in my mind: “The destiny of nations depends on the manner in which they are fed.” Everyone knows the quality of French products and their importance in heightening our country’s impact on the world, but here too, I’m going to quote Churchill who, as someone well informed about wine, harangued British troops during the Second World War: “Remember, gentlemen, it’s not just France we are fighting for, it’s champagne!”.

Cuisine and wine, this is France’s heritage: since 2010, the “meal of the French” has been inscribed on UNESCO’s heritage list. But this is a heritage we mustn’t just admire, glorify and enjoy. We must ensure this heritage is showcased and energized, and bears fruit.

On Sunday, the President convened a meeting of the Conseil stratégique de l’attractivité [Strategic Investment Attractiveness Council], which I didn’t attend because I was in China. Making France more attractive means building on its strengths. Gastronomy and oenology are two essential strengths, two major competitive advantages for our country. Competition exists in the world, but in this competition France really is at the very top.

Not taking an interest in it would be wrong on two fronts. Wrong culturally: gastronomy, wine and cuisine aren’t simply methods of eating and drinking, they’re a specific culture. A country has veered off course if it doesn’t showcase what makes it strong. Wrong economically: the commercial catering industry is France’s fifth-largest jobs sector: (600,000 employees) and the wine industry (550,000 direct and indirect jobs) accounts for the second-largest surplus in our goods trade balance, after the aerospace industry. And let’s never forget that jobs in tourism are non-relocatable.

We devoted our session to trying to be clear-sighted about the strengths and weaknesses in gastronomy and oenology – we’re very good but we’ve got room for progress in order to satisfy even more people.

This is why, now that I’m in charge of tourism, I want to help make the promotion of our cuisine and wine more dynamic. I asked Philippe Faure, who co-chairs the Council for the Promotion of Tourism, and whose expertise I salute, to think about the issue. He did so with the help of some major chefs present (Alain Ducasse, Guy Savoy and Guy Martin, whom I thank for their commitment). (…)

On the basis of their pre-report, there will be an overview report since we’ve decided to have several sessions. This one focuses on gastronomy and oenology and we’ll also deal with the Internet, destinations and training; we’ll take the main issues and compile a report. And this report will be followed by concrete decisions. An example: in the next few days, a parcours d’excellence culinaire [culinary excellence programme] will be set up, intended to make it easier for trainees and professionals wanting to receive training from the great chefs to come to France. The chefs explained to us that this is one of the problems they had, and they’d like to have trainees who, once trained, will be the best ambassadors for French gastronomy all over the world, but it’s quite difficult – very difficult even – to get them to come.

Thanks to the kindness of my colleague and friend, Bernard Cazeneuve, who is lending his support to the project, immigration procedures will be completely facilitated for this in the next few weeks.

This major project, centring on cuisine and wine, isn’t the only one. The next, called “destinations and brands”, will be launched at the Council for the Promotion of Tourism’s next session on 12 November.
The goal is simple: to better promote France as a base and better showcase the tourist destinations our country has to offer.

Other major projects are planned – each with a Council for the Promotion of Tourism session: the digital sector, the hotel industry, shopping tourism, public relations and training. These are facets of comprehensive, concrete action which will cover every strategic sphere. I’d like to increase the value of France’s huge tourism assets by 100%. I thank the representatives of the profession and the members of Parliament who have been kind enough to support us.

We shall present the final report at the end of our work, in spring 2015. But the process has been launched, the motivation is there and we’re at work – at the service of French tourism.

In order to show this clearly, I’m now going to hand over to Alain Ducasse, with the Goût de France drive which we’re launching today.
The principle is very simple: for one day, 19 March 2015, the meal of the French will be given pride of place by 1,000 restaurants over the five continents and in all our embassies. The goal is to showcase our excellence and know-how. People will ask me what it’s got to do with diplomacy; I think we can create “gastronomic diplomacy”, which will be a new speciality, but which can be only positive for France.

An Internet website dedicated to the operation has been set up this very day. It will be the showcase for this unprecedented action to promote our gastronomy. (…)./.

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