Innovative, community-driven, more customer-oriented and above all greener. Marseille’s new tourism strategy after the pandemic aims to make a difference – particularly as a city fully involved in an environmentally friendly, sustainable tourism future.

Marseille’s new city administration has the ambition to reshape its tourism and travel industry, getting away from previous policies of promotion and marketing. In a recent presentation, Marc Thépot, President of Marseille Metropolis Office of Tourism and Congresses (Office Métropolitain de Tourisme et des Congrès de Marseille or OMTCM) stressed how the city was looking towards a different, more sustainable tourism approach.

“The tourism we are now targeting must first and foremost obtain the support of all the political, economic and institutional players and put in place and look after the constantly renewed attractiveness of our beautiful city,” he declared.

Marseille wants to look at turning its tourism industry into an innovative and sustainable one. The OMTCM announced to launch a green certification programme for the coming months and years. “Green, sustainable and responsible tourism will focus on fulfilling the needs of Marseille’s people, highlighting the talents of local partners and players in this beautiful industry that Marseille Metropolis Office of Tourism and Congresses (OMTCM) wishes to federate,” added Thépot. The new green standards will include the Green Key label, the ISO 20 121 certification as well as the implementation of a GDS Index (a MICE-dedicated programme to make business tourism and events more sustainable).

Sustainability becomes a core value of Marseille tourism

In this sustainable drive, new initiatives will aim to relieve the historical city centre from overtourism issues by developing alternative destinations. Neighbourhood signage and specifically themed guided tours will enhance the value of Marseille’s unknown districts (“Marseille 111 villages”) in order to alleviate congestion.

New infrastructure initiatives will also be set up to improve the quality of the offer and boost visitor satisfaction. To better manage tourist flows, the city’s administration wants to create a toll project at Notre Dame de la Garde for large, polluting tourist buses. The OMTCM wants also to work with the application Waze to regulate cars traffic flows.

Marseille wants also to implement new partnerships with eco-responsible tourist structures that offer a different and environmentally friendly product. Such as, for example, Fada Bike and its electric bikes, the Levantin company and its Histoboat or the Ecocalanques boat among many examples.

A dedicated #Marseilleinnovanteetdurable section will be created on the website, with the proposed green routes. On social networks, enhanced content will encourage people to adopt the right habits during their stay and relaying sustainable initiatives in the region.

Another eco-friendly initiative is the partnership set between the Aix-Marseille Provence Convention Bureau with the Parc National des Calanques.The cooperation between both institutions will give conference organisers the possibility of offsetting their carbon footprint by collecting a sum from delegates which will be donated to the park’s foundation of the Park.

The new strategy is long term, with an eye to the recovery of the tourism market. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, Marseille was welcoming 5 million tourists and 1.8 million cruise passengers a year. They brought €1 billion to the city’s coffers, representing 8% of GDP.

According to the OMTCM, 2021 will see promotion towards mostly French and European travellers. Campaigns will be rolled-out for the peak season.

The city will capitalise on the assets of the destination. This include natural assets (climate, landscapes, strategic geographical locations, etc.), heritage, art of living, news and novelties. Among them are the Jeff Koons exhibition at the Mucem, the Rolling stones exhibition at the Orange Vélodrome, the Underwater Museum or the MX Museum. Marseille wants to prove that it does not lack creativity when it comes to tourism marketing.

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