Montréal, November 12th, 2014- Atout France, the France Tourism Development Agency, just launched a bilingual brochure presenting the Great War Remembrance sites in France. Highlighting Vimy (Nord-Pas de Calais) and Beaumont-Hamel (Somme, Picardy), the booklet includes a detailed map of the Western Front and gathers more not-to-be-missed sites where the memory of Canadian and allied soldiers memory is honored. Fighting with the allied nationalities, 68 000 Canadians, soldiers and civilians, lost their lives during the Great War.
The special publication, in which packaged trip offers can also be found, was printed in 40,000 copies and will be distributed in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal in the next months. The online version is available at the Great War Centenary dedicated section of ca.rendezvousenfrance.com.
In France, about 6 million tourists, half of which are foreigners, travel each year to remembrance sites. It is estimated that this type of tourism generates 45 million euros, benefiting mostly to small and medium size businesses.
Joint actions to increase visits of remembrance sites
Ten French collectivities and partner associations, along with 14 businesses have signed in November 2013 the ‘Great War Centenary destination contract’--a new type of initiative--to further develop remembrance tourism. The special brochure published by Atout France in Canada is one of the many actions emanating from this agreement.
Atout France first results
Atout France presented first results on November 6: France’s memorial sites of the Great War (Western Front) attracted international crowds this year, boosted by the commemorations and many events organized around the Centenary. The proximity markets (Briton, German, Belgian, Dutch) were not the only ones to visit; tourism professionals have noticed a significant increase in visitors from long-haul destinations (Canada, USA, Australia). In Northern France (Nord-Pas de Calais) the number of visitors at the Wellington Quarries almost doubled. The Vimy Ridge Canadian Memorial receives 700,000 visitors every year according to Veterans Affairs Canada. Tourist visits in the Somme (Picardy) memorial sites reported a 20% increase from January to April, and +46% in the Haute-Somme area, where most World War 1 sites are located. Visitors are mostly foreigners (85%) in the Somme. Same goes for Hartmannswillerkopf in Haute Alsace, which welcomed almost twice as many visitors this summer: 33.600 visits between July and September, against 18.600 for the same period in 2013. In Champagne-Ardenne, the progression in visits continued after a good year in 2013 with a reported +10% in the Marne département and +12% in the Ardennes at the end of August. Commemorations linked to Canadian history
The Great War Centenary commemorations and events program will continue until 2018. For Canadians, the battle of the Somme commemoration in 2016 and the Vimy Ridge battle commemoration in 2017 will certainly be highlight moments.
To view the special brochure and plan your trip: