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Brittany, a new destination for sustainable business tourism

In 2021, David Lisnard, president of France Congrès et Evénements, declared: “The crisis is an accelerator of change and therefore an opportunity to move forward faster than the competition. Beyond health reinsurance, we must build the tourist future of our destinations by innovating, whether in the business tourism market or the leisure market”.

To achieve this ambition, nine pilot destinations, including Rennes, have committed to creating a new label, Destination Innovante Durable. This is backed by the international ISO20121 certification, obtained by the local public company (SPL) Destination Rennes in December 2021.

For Angéline Duret, General Secretary of the SPL Destination Rennes, this new label is a strong guarantee of credibility for Rennes and its metropolis: “Launched as part of the hosting of the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris and supported by France Congrès Event, the Sustainable Innovative Destination label will show that Paris, but also the French territories, are able to welcome tourists in good conditions while limiting the negative impacts linked to event activities. For Rennes and its entire sector, this label is both a great opportunity and an accelerator of transformations. It is also a decisive argument in the choice of Rennes as a destination by our customers”.

Because sustainability is today well and truly part of the specifications of the organizers of corporate events. As Karine Treguer, Director of the Couvent des Jacobins, the convention center of Rennes Métropole, points out, “organizers of symposiums, particularly scientific ones, seek to reference ISO 20121-certified destinations and contact us in this regard. It is a completely new phenomenon”. The SPL Destination Rennes, which operates the Couvent des Jacobins convention center, has thus built a large part of its argument around its accessibility. “Rennes is a city on a human scale, just 1h25 from Paris by TGV,” says Karine Treguer. “Once there, we encourage our delegates to walk or use public transport, especially the metro. »

Playing the sustainable event game

Beyond transport, the Couvent des Jacobins convention center offers services that are also resolutely committed to a sustainable approach. “The health crisis has given us the time to re-examine the services we offer to organizers”, underlines Karine Treguer. “For example, we have developed welcome break and coffee services which are now almost 100% sustainable with short circuit suppliers committed to a responsible approach, a selection of organic and ethical products, seasonal fruits, non-disposable dishes, etc. We also offer filtered water and have pretty much given up on plastic. A major development (150,000 “breaks” are organized each year) which requires logistical, human and also financial resources. “A lasting” break can cost the organizers more, but they are playing the game”, welcomes Karine Treguer. “Before, the priority was the price, today we are able to put forward other arguments. »

A spreading approach

Unsurprisingly, the trend also extends to other Breton towns involved in business tourism, such as Lorient, Vannes, Saint Malo and Quimper. David Puget, who manages the company Quimper Evénement and the association Breizh Event Finistère bringing together more than 50 event companies, confirms this: “subjects linked to eco-responsibility are flourishing more and more in the specifications that we receive “. This is the case, for example, of Beecome, the European beekeeping congress, which will be held in October 2022 at the Quimper exhibition center. Beyond labels, companies are sensitive to visible actions on the ground, sometimes implemented well before the pandemic. “We have been trying to be more frugal in our events for several years now. explains David Puget. For example, we have abandoned the carpet on our stands, we favor the sourcing of local food products and digital media instead of paper. »

But if Brittany is on the rise, it is also because its wild nature and its cultural richness fit perfectly with the new expectations of the events industry. “The pandemic has highlighted the attractions of the region”, underlines David Puget. “Brittany offers a quality of life, a natural setting, a cultural identity that meets the current need for authenticity”. Without forgetting its economic dynamism: Brittany is now home to many captains of industry and a growing number of tertiary companies.

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