France launches new e-learning platform
On hand to explain the concept behind the new launch were Karim Mekachera, Director Atout France, Middle East & Turkey Regional Office, and his team led by Travel Trade Manager Zamira Ismatova, who has been key in shaping the training agenda for the Middle East.
The e-learning project France Connaisseur took a task force of countless hours over almost two years to prepare. Zamira tells us, “The programme for the Middle East is tailormade by us for the Middle East region specifically - it is not the same programme that agents will see in the US or Brazil markets for instance. The Middle East chapter is respectful of the region’s specific cultural sensitivities and, of course, contains more premium and luxury choices in accommodations and transfers, keeping in mind the preferences of regional travellers.”
It’s time to think outside the box and create the best value proposition for your customers. We bring you the tools, the knowledge, the content and the support
– Karim Mekachera
Globally, however, the ambitions for the new e-learning platform remain the same: to reaffirm France’s place as a reference destination; to provide travel agents and tour operators with a general knowledge base on the essential tourist attractions of the French regions; to surprise with diversity; and to demonstrate the country’s response to societal and environmental issues.
The e-learning platform is available in five languages: French, English, Spanish, Japanese, Portuguese/Brazilian and is displayed in Middle East, South Africa, Brazil, Canada, USA, India, Japan and Mexico.
It is a fun course containing 19 training modules about the 14 regions of France. It is adapted in real time to the learning path based on the adaptive learning technique. It is available on all devices - mobile, tablet or laptop, say the team.
Atout France’s Middle East office hopes for a realistic figure of 800 to 1000 enrolments from the travel agent community this year. Zamira tells us: “It is an evolving training programme, which will be enriched by new specialised modules during the year and beyond, focusing on expert topics of sustainable tourism, major sports events, and so on and so forth.
“Upon completion of the course, travel agents need to secure a 70 per cent score to receive their France Connaisseur certificate, which will be valid for two years”
– Zamira Ismatova
“Upon completion of the course, travel agents need to secure a 70 per cent score to receive their France Connaisseur certificate, which will be valid for two years. This certification will enable travel agents to level up their packages with inspired and vetted suppliers – offering exceptional experiences steeped in culture, heritage, gastronomy and specificities of each French region.
“We are always here to help out in case of any confusion so please don’t hesitate to reach out with concerns,” Zamira, who has worked in Atout France’s Middle East office for six years now, tells the advisors in the audience.
France has recovered almost 90 per cent of 2019 in terms of tourist arrivals, but with some noteworthy differences. Visitors are starting to explore more destinations and not just the three key hideouts: the gateway city of Paris, the French Riviera and the French Alps, (which has consistently seen a rise in tourists from the region, resulting in the Middle East featuring – for the first time - within its top 10 international clientele.) Visitors from the Middle East are also fast becoming avid skiers, a new behaviour that is noted by Atout France.
Mekachera says: “It is imperative to renew the knowledge of the travel trade about France - it’s very important to keep them updated. We have to go beyond the traditional destinations we have promoted so far in the Middle East - France is really a collection of several destinations with so many different themes. This is the perfect starting point for the trade to discover new opportunities in France and to develop new packages.
To the trade partners Mekachera says, “It’s time to think outside the box and create the best value proposition for your customers. We bring you the tools, the knowledge, the content and the support.
“I would really like to see the success story of the French Alps reflect in the other regions of France.
“What about Brittany? What about the Southwest of France - Toulouse? What about Bordeaux? What about Burgundy? What about Alsace? It’s close to Germany, you can combine Alsace with Germany. You might combine the French Alps with Switzerland. You might put together Lille in the North of France with Belgium. The possibilities are so exciting.“France Connaisseur will be supplied with new information on a regular basis, so this, by no means, is the last you hear from us,” Mekachera concludes.