France sees PHL as potential market for ‘spiritual tourism’

Recognizing the Philippines as a potential market for “spiritual tourism” to France, a delegation of professionals from France’s travel sector will visit Cebu City and Metro Manila this week to meet with the media and travel groups that specialize in Christian pilgrimages.

The French Embassy and France’s tourism development agency Atout France will lead the delegation, which includes the Lourdes Tourism Board, the Lisieux Tourism Board, the Avignon Tourism Board and French travel agency Bipel, the embassy said in a press release.

A religious procession in Lourdes, France. Photo: P. Vincent/The French Embassy

“Promoting France, the top tourist destination worldwide in terms of arrivals, in the Philippines is strategic because the country is a fast-growing market in Asia for tourism,” the statement quoted French Ambassador Thierry Mathou as saying.

“We are already the top European destination for Filipino travelers, and we are committed to maintaining this leading position,” he added.

A tourist poses in front of the Mont-Saint-Michel surrounded by the sea during high tide on February 22, 2015. AFP PHOTO/Damien Meyer

According to the embassy, France saw 82.5 million visitor arrivals last year, making it the world’s top tourist destination. Of this number, almost 70,000 were Filipino tourists, despite the fact that there are currently no direct flights from the Philippines to France.

Eleven of France’s 42 UNESCO world heritage sites are religious:

  • Abbey Church of Saint-Savin sur Gartempe
  • Amiens Cathedral
  • Bourges Cathedral
  • Cathedral of Notre-Dame, Former Abbey of Saint-Rémi and Palace of Tau, Reims
  • Chartres Cathedral
  • Cistercian Abbey of Fontenay
  • Episcopal City of Albi
  • Historic Center of Avignon: Papal Palace, Episcopal Ensemble and Avignon Bridge
  • Mont-Saint-Michel and its Bay
  • Routes of Santiago de Compostela in France
  • Vézelay, Church and Hill

— BM, GMA News

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