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In Albi, France Gerbal-Medalle combines tourism and the environment

She, who never wanted to choose between tourism and viticulture, founded AOC Tourisme & environnement in 2009, a design office that aims to promote local production and the territories that house it.

From its Aveyron roots firmly anchored near Saint-Geniez-d’Olt, France Gerbal-Medalle has kept a certain attachment to everything that has to do with rurality.

“It is from there, in fact, that my desire to highlight these territories so important for the economy of a country was born.“Founder of the AOC Tourisme & Environnement design office, the Albigensian by adoption works today to promote quality productions with a marked preference for viticulture, which remains her favorite subject.

Doctor in geography, passed by the school of wine before taking the direction of the Office of tourism Lislois, France Gerbal-Medalle devotes her time and her energy to “desire” of these territories which, according to her, have taken advantage of the health crisis to remind French tourists. The Covid having – from this point of view only – been beneficial to the Occitanie region.

Due to the travel constraints caused by the pandemic, “city dwellers who had become accustomed to traveling abroad, taking planes for short stays, have rediscovered Occitania, a rural region spared by demographic overdensity, a magnificent region, where one eats well and where you like to take your time.”

A tourist burst that must, on the other hand, be confirmed by professionals in the sector, taking care not to distort the offer. Better, “to go upmarket, explains the founder of AOC, without giving in to mass tourism by working harder so that visitors stay longer and are more interested in the life of the territory. In the way we use it, how we live there, how we grow up there. That’s what’s important.”

Roquefort & Transhumance

Always ready to operate such a lever, she explains: “Tourism is not only about the beach and the seaside. We must rather look at what it can bring as an economy to a territory, as jobs and therefore as links. Some small businesses, for example, remain open to the year only because they make enough numbers during the summer season to afford to offer services the rest of the year.”

Thus posed, the philosophy of AOC Tourism & Environment infuses very widely in Occitanie which remains the preferred market of the design office. “We recently worked with the Roquefort Tourist Office on promoting this production to tourists as well as on the tourism strategy… We are also working with Adefpat and the Aubrac Regional National Park to analyze the positioning in come from transhumance in Aubrac. The event is 40 years old, so we need to both revitalize communication a little but also work on the positioning, the promotion of the sector. The goal is not to bring more many people at the party, which is already very popular, but to keep it going throughout the year by attracting new volunteers, by launching new ideas so that everyone can reclaim this event which is so important for the region and the promotion of the meat industry. “

To finish with the department, let’s finally go through the Marcillac vineyard that she never takes her eyes off. “I observe a lot of what has been done on Marcillac, an appellation that has been completely renewed in terms of image, blending, tastes. It is also a vineyard that has invested a lot in high environmental value which takes into account the landscape and the notion of preserving the landscape. All of this contributes entirely to the success of this beautiful vineyard.”

If she never wanted to choose between tourism and viticulture, France Gerbal-Medalle does not intend to give up teaching either, which occupies her more and more. Responsible for the Wine Tourism & Wine Marketing sector for the students of the Toulouse Business School (TBS), this enthusiast likes nothing less than to share her knowledge. “I like to transmit, more and more. Especially on sectors which allow to make the link and the pedagogy on themes such as the environment and on the societal impact of such or such practice.”

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