France eyes tourism to help invigorate wine sector

Tue Mar 3, 2009 9:45am EST
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By Gus Trompiz

PARIS (Reuters Life!) - French authorities are targeting tourism as part of an effort to bolster the country's wine industry against rising global competition.

While France is already the world's most popular tourist destination, with wine a major part of its appeal, the trade thinks it can go a lot further in tapping into visitor interest.

The government will unveil on Tuesday a body to promote wine tourism, headed by international tourism and leisure industry veteran Paul Dubrule.

He is the co-founder of French hotel group Accor and author of a government-commissioned report on developing tourism around wine.

"We've fallen behind (other countries) in terms of marketing our offer," said Camille Barnier, head of wine tourism at Burgundy wine association BIVB.

"We've rested a bit on our laurels."

Promoting wine tourism is part of a government five-year plan unveiled in 2008 to modernize the wine industry in France and make it more competitive on the world market.

Among the government's aims are to raise wine exports to 16 million hectoliters by 2013, versus 13.5 million on average in 1990-2000 and increase the price ratio of French wine to more than twice world prices, versus 1.9 during 1990-2000.   Continued...