Marie Garcin-Zaiter, Director of the Tourist and Congress Office of Mulhouse and its region since 2015 talks to us about her city with its originality, creativity and competitiveness for Business Tourism. A journey into the unknown…
As Head of the Tourist and Congress Office of Mulhouse and its region, what share of tasks is dedicated to Business Tourism?
Business tourism is a significant development driver for Mulhouse. A recent study by the Alsace Regional Tourism Observatory revealed that 50% of customers staying in the city’s hotels were there for business reasons. It is, therefore, essential to work on this customer segment. This is the case with the Mulhouse Tourist Office that manages the Congress Office with a full-time business officer, a promotion officer and, of course, myself as manager.
What are Mulhouse’s main assets?
To promote Mulhouse, we can build on the extraordinary offer of the city’s museums. They exist nowhere else, for example, the Cité de l’Automobile (motor museum) remains a unique museum worldwide. In addition to things to see in our museums, a visit to Mulhouse lets you discover the diversity, history and true uniqueness of the city. You don’t come to Mulhouse in the same way as you come to Alsace! Its originality, and creativity are real assets. Just like its proximity to Switzerland and Germany, that lets our delegate visitors eat breakfast in Mulhouse, lunch in Fribourg and dinner in Basel. We can also highlight the ease of access, thanks to the TGV station in the city centre, and a very dynamic airport, with nearly 8 million passengers in 2016.
How do you stand out from your competitors in the MICE sector?
Mulhouse proposes a business offering that complements neighbouring sites. Its main asset is the uniqueness of its many museums. But not only that: we also have a good price-quality ratio, particularly for accommodation. Alongside the infrastructure, we have the chance to work with partners, such as the Zoological and Botanical Park, that offer very pleasant work and seminar areas. The quality of these areas allows us to offer original and unusual proposals, such as gala dinners surrounded by Royal Bugattis at the Cité de l’Automobile.
What is your assessment of this year in terms of events, and what does the future hold?
For Business Tourism, 2016 was slowed by a complex economic context for companies. However, we had several interesting opportunities including the Collège de Réanimation des hôpitaux Extra-Universitaires de France (CREUF) representing 1,200 delegates that we welcomed at the station and accompanied throughout their stay. After this experience, the Tourist Office launched itself into hospitality as an important development focus for the future. Looking further ahead, we will organise the World Bonsai Conference with 700 international delegates in 2018. This will open a window for promoting Mulhouse’s attractiveness in Japan.