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The classified tourist office, the tourist vocation of Foix reinforced

the essential
It is an additional label showing that in Foix and in the agglomeration, the tourist offer is of quality. The State has just classified the tourist office in the first category, which “stamps a local tourist environment.”

An economic weight and a source of well-being. Developing tourism, in a territory, means acting for employment and offering services which “serve both tourists and inhabitants alike, recalled Friday the president of the agglo, Thomas Fromentin. For example, the paths of hike that we are developing are used by tourists and Ariège residents alike.”

Elected officials and tourism professionals can therefore salute, with a smile, the recent classification of the Pays de Foix-Varilhes tourist office in category 1. What does this mean? “This recognizes the professionalization of the office and the unifying role with regard to tourist activity”, we explain, on the side of the tourist office. In concrete terms, many criteria have been taken into account by the Ministry responsible for Tourism, including an optimal reception service, a wide opening, good customer relationship management (including with tourism professionals), information accessible to foreign customers… On all of these criteria, the tourist office obtained a remarkable score: more than 97%! The label is therefore in the bag for the next five years.

And it is necessary for the town of Foix to retain its label as a classified tourist resort. “This classification, explain the services of the State, is the act by which the public authorities recognize the efforts made by a community to structure an adapted tourist offer and a welcome of excellence.” Foix has had this label since… 1928! “There are only three classified tourist resorts in Ariège, recalls Pierre Ville, the vice-president of the agglo in charge of tourism, namely Foix, Ax-les-Thermes and Mirepoix.”

Through the classification of the city but also that, recent, of the tourist office, it is therefore the efforts made by all the actors of the territory which are recognized. Thus, enlightens Mathieu Lagarde, the director of the tourist office: “For the classification of the office, there are the criteria related to the functioning of the office, but not only. For example, are also taken into account the access to the office, signage, parking, the area’s accommodation capacity. In short, this recognition makes it possible to stamp a quality local tourist environment. So, if it is a success, it is collective.”

We remember Aimé Surre…

And Pierre Ville adds: “People ask us why we didn’t do it earlier. The answer: quite simply because we couldn’t. Before, we didn’t have this pretty tourist office in Foix, then the Covid arrived and then, this recognition is a long administrative process. Thus, for several months, the tourist office was audited, many “mystery customers” tested the service provided, including in foreign languages.

This concludes a long phase since the construction of the new tourist office in July 2017. In the meantime, the region has awarded Foix-Montségur the Grand site Occitanie label, the Foix tourist office has obtained the tourism label and handicap for the 4 deficiencies then, last October, the Quality tourism label. The first step towards classification in category 1. And the mayor Norbert Meler even remembers that it was Aimé Surre, grandfather of the current owners of the eponymous bookstore, who launched the first tourist actions in the county city. He concludes: “Everything is intertwined and everything propels us towards the future.”

projects to improve

All said Friday during the press conference: “This recognition of the tourist office is a culmination but certainly not an end.” And everyone knows the points on which Foix and its agglomeration can improve. Thomas Fromentin, the president of the agglo Foix-Varilhes, does not hide it: “We have concerns about accommodation. We need qualification and diversification of accommodation.” Moreover, there are incentives for the promoters of tourist accommodation projects, as the vice-president of the agglo, Pierre Ville reminds us: “The agglo looks at the files, technically, then presents them to the funders, in particular the Department, to allow project promoters to obtain subsidies.” The agglo also intends to target business customers by creating, at the Forges de Pyrène, a congress center “sized for our territory”.

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