On the occasion of Cannes joining the Creative Tourism Network®, Laure Toma-Auneau, Director of Leisure Tourism, presents this innovative approach which aims to show another side of the city, more human and creative.
Cannes is traditionally associated with luxury tourism. How did this strategy to develop a more authentic and like-a-local tourism come about?
Cannes has a luxury image and positioning thanks to the Film Festival and its world-famous 5-star hotels. Our role at the Commercial Department is to optimise the number of visitors all year round and to smooth out the occupancy rates of the Cannes establishments. So we have to go beyond this image linked to the Red Carpet and show, and demonstrate, that there are many activities and experiences to be had throughout the year. It’s about proposing a more secret, more intimate Cannes, the real heart that beats with its inhabitants, its customs, behind the curtain! The personality of the person who influences the commercial policy plays a primordial role: I am a Parisian, I discover every day nuggets in Cannes and I did a Master’s degree in Sustainable Development 17 years ago, which explains my sensitivity to all the activities we can conceive with the locals. Cannes can be combined with all the seasons, for all the desires of the Côte d’Azur and let’s not forget that we are the first city for business tourism in France (MICE) after Paris, which gives us a tourist activity all year round, by mixing tourists, conventioneers and locals in one destination. And everyone knows that making, creating, tasting, sharing, doing, allows you to feel a lasting emotion, in addition to the beach and the nightlife for example!
Beyond the strategy, what is this programme and what are its objectives?
We have been offering experiences for more than 15 years in Cannes, through our Cannes Visitors Bureau and Office de Tourisme. In B2C, for example, we manage a marketplace where more than 80 activities (fun, sports, wellness) are just a click away. In B2B, we offer free activity packages to leisure group organisers to boost overnight stays in the low season from 1 October to 30 April and this has generated more than 7,000 overnight stays in good years!
What experiences are offered to tourists?
They are numerous and varied, there is something for everyone:
- lunch and dinner with local people;
- making kitchen aprons and bags out of tarpaulins from the town’s events;
- family candle making and ceramic workshop;
- beach cleaning and island clearing;
- wine tasting in Saint-Honorat;
- creation of tailor-made perfumes;
- workshop for children on the history of the man in the iron mask;
- a walk and sharing with the greeters;
- swimming between the islands to discover the statues of Jayson deCaires Taylor from the underwater eco-museum.
What are Cannes’ assets to position itself within this tourist sector, both locally and internationally?
First of all, we are fortunate to have an exceptional climate on the Côte d’Azur, and an extraordinary proximity to the sea and the mountains. Cannes is also a human-sized city where everything can be done on foot, an exceptional “global village” with breathtaking landscapes. Travellers can discover the two jewel islands of Sainte-Marguerite Island, famous for its royal fort, built in the 17th century, which housed the man in the iron mask, and Saint-Honorat Island, known for its Cistercian abbey, where the monks have been cultivating their vineyard since the Middle Ages.
In addition to this heritage, the city’s investment and hotel projects represent more than 1 billion euros for development and embellishment work which is currently underway. The dynamism of MICE business tourism is also driving up investment with the construction of new hotels, new restaurants and the complete renovation of many areas.
Cannes has just been recognized as a ” Creative Friendly ” destination by the Creative Tourism Network®, why is this important ?
This labeling comes to affirm and concretize this innovative positioning in phase with the Raison d’Etre of the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, a Company with a Mission, which intends to ” Welcome the World sustainably “.
It also allows us to stand out from our competitors: Cannes is where you wouldn’t expect it to be, with experiential offers for all tastes, all year round.
What is the next step?
A rich and renewed programme with new content proposed by local artists and craftsmen. We are currently working to obtain the France Congrès Innovative and Sustainable Destination label, following our triple certification of ISO 9001 (Quality), ISO 18788 (Safety and Security) and ISO 20121 (Responsible Event Management).
Finally, through the Network, we hope to meet with agencies specialising in creative tourism in order to welcome tourists seeking this type of experience.