Marie-Reine Fischer is Vice-President of Alsace Regional Council and Access Alsace, in charge of tourism. We asked her a few questions to find out what makes Alsace so attractive for business tourism! Happy reading!

Hello! Is business tourism important to Alsace?

Hello. It’s important to emphasise Alsace Regional Council’s commitment to promoting business tourism by making this sector one of the priority areas of its regional tourism strategy. Run by the Alsace Attractiveness Agency, the business tourism communication and business tourism promotion campaigns are supported by a destination contract that’s 50% funded by Alsace Regional Council and 50% by the Cities of Strasbourg, Colmar and Mulhouse.

With the will and the resources available, business tourism has benefited from an ambitious development programme designed to promote all of Alsace’s advantages. In this area, we can say that in recent years, business tourism has played an increasingly important role in our action plans.

What do you think are Alsace’s advantages in the field of business tourism?

Alsace can rely on three main advantages. Firstly, its great accessibility. Our region has the infrastructures needed to attract business customers. The international airports of Basel-Mulhouse and Strasbourg-Entzheim have daily flights to a large number of destinations. Although it is near Paris, Alsace is also close to other major airports such as Frankfurt or Amsterdam. For many years, Alsace has been working to make it easier to travel by public transport. It’s also easy to reach Alsace via the two high-speed train lines – TGV Est and TGV Rhin-Rhône – and to get around locally thanks to regular TER (Regional Express Transport) services.

Yet Alsace is also famous for its warm welcome, quality accommodation which is moving further upmarket all the time, and enjoyable lifestyle: the Alsace region has an unusually high number of Michelin stars. The Alsace Wine Route, one of the oldest in France, runs across the region from north to south and appeals to visitors from across the borders. That’s one of our greatest business cards!

Last but not least, cities in Alsace attract businesses and event organisers thanks to their infrastructure: whether you opt for the European centre of Strasbourg with its fully renovated Palais de la Musique et des Congrès (Convention and Music Centre), hedonistic Colmar with its Unterlinden Museum, or inventive Mulhouse with its rapidly expanding Quartier Gare (business district near the station), Alsace’s cities know how to meet the needs of a demanding business clientele.

What’s more, it’s easy to organise any size of event, either intimate or larger-scale, and find the venue, accommodation and type of catering that will add an exclusive and incomparable touch to any business gathering, with the help of the Convention Bureau and Alsace Attractiveness Agency working together under the banner of Meet in Alsace.

On top of business tourism, Alsace is a very popular region with tourists anyway, isn’t it?

Yes, in 2014, a time when the outlook in France in general was rather gloomy, Alsace was one of the few regions to see growing visitor numbers, with 18.5 million visitors in 2014. These included more and more foreign tourists, in particular from Asia but also North America and European countries such as Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy.

Let’s talk a bit about the Marque Alsace label. That’s one way to promote Alsace, isn’t it?

Indeed, that’s why the rollout of the Marque Alsace label is an integral part of the missions entrusted to the Alsace Attractiveness Agency. The Marque Alsace is a tool to promote our activities in Alsace, France and abroad – moreover, nearly 3,000 businesses in Alsace have signed up to it. Through this territorial marketing approach, we aim to convey an image of tradition combined with modernity to our target audience, on the economic, touristic, cultural and academic levels.

It’s quite innovative for a region to have its own label, isn’t it?

That’s right, which is why we were keen to create the Marque Alsace. Alsace is not the only region to have created its own label, however it is the first to have created an Attractiveness Agency encompassing economic prospecting, tourism promotion and the label itself.

What exactly are your priorities within the Access Alsace?

We want to display a sense of innovation and are always looking for new initiatives to promote Alsace and show that the region is attractive. To this end, we run cohesive action campaigns tailored to our target audiences, be they entrepreneurs, tourists, executives or students.

Regarding our tourism strategy specifically, our action plan takes account of the need to approach new countries in order to attract new tourists, but also pays special attention to our visibility on markets where we are already present.

In addition, we work with the Grand Est regions (Lorraine, Franche-Comté, Burgundy and Champagne-Ardenne) on joint promotional campaigns abroad, on so-called distant markets.

Taking it further, the mission of the Access Alsace is not just one of tourism promotion, but also economic prospecting: what is the development potential for investors in Alsace?

Indeed, we regularly carry out economic prospecting campaigns alongside our tourism promotion campaigns, which add up to around 95 combined operations a year. This work is leading to a big rise in the number of companies opening offices here in Alsace. 24 companies came here in 2014 thanks to the practical action taken by the Attractiveness Agency, including six from North America and one from China.

To achieve this, we showcase Alsace’s many advantages to investors: its position on the border within the attractive Rhine Valley area is a major argument in its favour. It’s a region on a human scale that has proven itself to be very dynamic. Tradition is very present here, which is an appealing factor, but the modernity and excellence that we also offer are major assets too. Alsace is a land of many talents!

Thank you, Marie-Reine Fischer, for taking the time to answer our questions!