Atout France is starting a new marketing strategy in the UAE, launching a new web-based training course in the region by the end of the year. Image Credit: Rex Features

Dubai: Tourist agency Atout France, which has been recently rebranded from Maison de la France, is pursuing a new marketing strategy to promote France in the UAE.

A new web-based training course will be operational in the UAE by the end of the year for travel agencies and tourist operators.

"The main objective is to create a tool which will allow people to gain in-depth knowledge about France as a destination. There is currently a big lack of knowledge about the destination in this region," said Mekachera.


Currently present in the US and Canada, the course will be customised to suit different markets and companies.

At the end of the course, travel agents will achieve an online learning certificate that qualifies them as a French tourism specialist.

The country is focusing on attracting high-end tourists from the Middle East which currently stands at 725,000.

"Travellers from the Middle East are high contributors to ... French tourism, in terms of their liberal spending habits and long stays, and we believe that their share of the global outbound flows to our country is as yet not fully unlocked," said Karim Mekachera, director of Atout France, Near and Middle East office.

Travellers from the GCC dominate the outbound tourists from the Middle East, with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait comprising the biggest share.

"Travellers from the region are high-end clientele for France's tourism and this realisation will be the base for our onward strategy," said Karim.

By 2020 the most important growth from the region will come from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, Kuwait and Lebanon.

Airlines such as Air France and KLM are also recognising this potential. Three days ago, Air France launched new direct flights from Abu Dhabi to Paris five times a week.

"We are currently in the process of investing in new flights. We believe that the UAE has a lot of potential," said Bas Gerressen, commercial director of Air France.

Tourists from the region constitute around two per cent of tourists to France.