Strongly affected by the pandemic in recent years, business tourism is finally picking up again in Carcassonne. According to the Municipal Tourist Office, 2022 will be a very good year. “Even even better than before the Covid”, in particular thanks to an active canvassing of customers.
It is tourism that we do not see. Or, at least, that we confuse in the mass: business tourism. At half mast since the start of the health crisis, this crucial sector of activity for the off-season economy is finally picking up some color. Seminars, congresses, study days, activities team-building – team building in French – are therefore back in Carcassonne. Really back. And suggest a busy year 2022 “with big events scheduled”, rejoices the Municipal Tourist Office. Good news for the local economic fabric.
Groups of up to 250 people scheduled
“This kind of stay allows you to create a bond within a company. These are cohesion outings, clarifies Philippe Niro, in charge of business tourism for the Municipal Office. Privileged moments used to reunite its teams, present a new tool, make the annual report… Each time, it is a tourism associating a work part and a playful part. To date, we are seeing more requests than the past two years.”
These stays “generally ranging from one to four nights”, not only have the merit of making hoteliers work. It also mobilizes restaurateurs, guides, providers of various activities… And intervenes during off-peak periods. Out of season, when leisure tourists have returned home. Because, as the director of the Municipal Office Muriel Brunet explains, “companies never organize anything during school holidays”.
Between January and April, we have already processed 27 files
According to him, 2022 will be a good vintage. “Last year, we mainly welcomed small groups. The year 2022 has started very well and should be even better than before the Covid! Between January and April, we have already handled 27 files. Substantial files going up to ‘to 250 people. Just last week, we welcomed 150 employees from an insurance company”, she continues.
In 2019, before the health crisis raged, the Office processed 44 cases. Ten in 2020, 56 in 2021. For the current year, according to forecasts, nearly 70 business trips should pass through Carcassonne. An increase due to the increased involvement of the organization. Particularly in terms of canvassing, thus going to sell the Carcassonne destination directly to customers.
“Our canvassing policy is bearing fruit. Last year, for example, we were present at the Event fair in Cannes, the largest fair in France dedicated to business tourism. It was an opportunity to meet not only agencies , but also big companies from Lyon, Marseille… And to share with them the assets of our city”, explains Philippe Niro. Just before Muriel Brunet lists some of them: “We are already promoting our ideal location, halfway between Toulouse and Montpellier, perfect for bringing together teams of employees from Occitanie. Then, in Carcassonne, we are lucky to be able to play the heritage card with the Cité or the Canal du Midi, the nature menu with our wide open spaces, and the gastronomy and oenology menu, she argues. We also emphasize our ability to personalize each experience according to business expectations. By creating tailor-made stays and events. For example, the Hôtel de la Cité creates medieval banquets exclusively for this public. We do nocturnal guided tours of the City. We privatize boats on the canal. We do a Koh Lanta at Lac de la Cavayère, local alcohol tastings, etc.”
A panel of tempting offers in the hope that behind these people who came to discover Carcassonne via business tourism will return in the future, as simple holidaymakers.
“Don’t get carried away too quickly”
Scalded cat fears cold water. Faced with the optimism of the Municipal Tourist Office of Carcassonne, Thierry Deniau, the president of the Union of trades and hotel industries (UMIH) of Aude and of the association Tourisme Affaires Aude (T2A ), he prefers to temper. In the rest of the Aude, all the indicators are not looking good with regard to business tourism. “It’s starting again. We can’t say the opposite. However, in the department, we are not yet at rates equivalent to those of 2017 or 2018. We must be optimistic but not get carried away too quickly, nuance Thierry Deniau. Admittedly, there is demand for “leisure” business tourism. But in terms of pure and hard work seminars of 3-4 days, it’s not really that in the Aude yet… For this, the best months are September, October and November. We’ll see at the end of the year.”
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Carcassonne: the promising return of business tourism