Are French Riviera tourism operators ready for China’s National Week?

Are French Riviera’s travel and tourism operators ready for China’s National Week?   I’m dubious to say ‘Yes’ as I believe a high proportion of travel-related businesses here are completely oblivious to targeted marketing for one of the world’s largest holiday periods and tourism markets.

What is National Week?

Chinese National Day is celebrated on 1st October each year to celebrate the founding of the People’s Republic of China.  National Week or Golden Week is the holiday period that follows National Day – this year, it runs from 1st October to 8th October 2017.  Golden Week is the longest public holiday in China aside from Chinese New Year.

Why should France care about China’s National Week?

Traditionally, France has ranked within the top 2 overseas destinations for Chinese visitors however it is increasingly facing tough competition from other European destinations.  Switzerland has made huge efforts to attract Chinese tourists, as has Croatia with Game of Thrones-themed tours.

Director Jiang Yiyi of the International Tourism Research Institute with the China Tourism Academy says, “Chinese tourists no longer only select traditional hot journey places such as Thailand, the United States and Japan to spend their holidays. Countries such as Kenya, Morocco, New Zealand and Peru have all become a new attraction.”

France needs to adapt their tourism model and refresh their marketing to go beyond standard tour product by assessing the entire tourist journey from availability and frequency of flights from Chinese cities to French cities to including Chinese-specific signage at key tourist areas.

Notably, one of the biggest lags in tourism development for Chinese visitors is translation of French websites.  To compare, Barcelona Tourism has their main website resources available in 13 languages; Nice Tourism’s website is 7 languages including Chinese – something to think about for French businesses looking to grow their Chinese client base.

Chinese tourists visiting the French Riviera

Locally, companies are realising the potential of Chinese tourism on the French Riviera.

Monte-Carlo SBM has hosted high-profile events for Chinese companies adapting their service offering for their clients, including Chinese TV channels and meal options.  Their 4 hotels –  Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo, the Hôtel Hermitage Monte-Carlo, the Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort and the Monte-Carlo Beach have obtained the Silver Certification, a hospitality standard for outbound Chinese travelers, awarded by ‘Welcome Chinese’.

‘Welcome Chinese’ is the only officially recognized by Chinese Authorities certified travel service standard and travel platform, aimed at upgrading the services dedicated to Chinese travellers.

Monaco has promoted the Principality as an add-on travel experience for National Week holidays, appealing to Chinese visitors to Monaco Yacht Show to stay and discover the Principality and surrounding regions.

Golden Week – French Riviera

French Riviera travel and tourism businesses need to prepare and strategise for this important tourism market – over the 8-day Golden Week holiday period, 650 million Chinese will travel which is an incredible number logistically and of that number, 6 million will travel abroad.  While they won’t all be heading to the famous Côte d’Azur coastline, a large number have been researching their travel options for European highlights and booked already.

The chance to create travel product and packages for a target group (known as mid to high spenders) is untapped for many businesses.  Shanghai-based Ctrip.com International, a Nasdaq-listed travel agency said that a quarter of their Ctrip customers chose to travel between 7 and 10 days, up 140 % year-on-year.   As well, shopping ranks highly as an activity during this time.

Immersive culture experiences, adventure activities and enticing landscapes appeal to Chinese visitors and as it is shoulder season here with comfortable temperatures and clear weather, the potential for opportunity is high.

Stats:  Ctrip.com, UNWTO

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Monaco Yacht Show 2017: What You Need To Know

It’s almost upon us – the annual late September gathering for Monaco Yacht Show of the world’s premium superyachts, 125 to be precise, including around 40 yachts that will be freshly revealed for their Monaco debut.

Monaco Yacht Show 2017 will be held at Port Hercules from 27th to 30th September.

my aquarius feadship

M/Y Aquarius will be at MYS 2017 (image: Feadship)

Monaco Yacht Show 2017 – What’s New

September is a busy month in this neck of the woods for yacht shows with Cannes Yachting Festival just finished and Genoa Boat Show starting tomorrow, but Monaco Yacht Show 2017 is the most influential yachting show and certainly the one to visit to see the largest yachts and latest innovations with toys, tenders and tech gadgets in the nautical world.

mys2017

Monaco Yacht Show is one of the world’s leading yacht shows (image: MYS)

If you’re looking for an in-depth guide, Bespoke Yacht Charter very kindly asked me to write them a guide about the Monaco Yacht Show 2017 and I’ve included many insider tips including what to expect at show zones, VIP experiences, exhibitor and yacht lists and party dates.  You can read the guide here:  Monaco Yacht Show 2017 Guide

(This Monaco Yacht Show 2017 guide is a paid article on behalf of Bespoke Yacht Charter)

250,000 THANK YOUS

Sunday smiling and sending out a huge heartfelt thank you to all my followers, sharers, commenters and occasional readers who have stopped by Access Riviera – I have hit a milestone of 250,000 visitors!

I’m totally overwhelmed with all of the support for my blog from what started as a simple vision to provide information about the French Riviera and has grown into a behemoth and I’ve appreciated every like, share and comment along the way.

I’ve worked with some brilliant clients, learned a lot about growing and ungrowing followers, committed myself to writing good content and generally sticking to writing about things I believe in whether it’s the good, the bad or the ugly.

THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH!!  Here’s to the next 250K

Becks

To read some of my most popular articles, click on the links below:

Secret French Riviera : Hidden spots worth visiting

The Lavender Route

Cannes Film Festival : The Ultimate Guide

Top 15 French Riviera viewpoints for amazing photos

Monaco on a budget

To work with me or simply send me feedback, you can contact me a number of ways from my Contact Access Riviera page.

The Honesty About Dishonesty on Instagram

I have to admit, I was a late comer to Instagram but can appreciate it’s virtues.  I follow far too many travel, food and fashion bloggers and over the course of getting up to speed with Instagram etiquette I have seen the same styling of photos pop up again and again.

Instagram has its positive and negative uses and showcases some amazingly talented individuals.  But it also drip feeds a lot of drivel and ‘same-same’ content with no creativity other than copying something that’s been done a million times before.

I’ll continue to dabble with Instagram as there is a lot I love on the platform, however I’m finding it lacks authenticity for a lot of accounts and can be irritating in huge doses.

I’ve pulled some examples from actual Instagram accounts to show you my love-hate relationship!

Here are 7 Instagram clichés that drive me nuts

  1. The ‘Follow Me To’ post

We’ve seen these ones a MILLION times – the outstretched hand leading the photographer to a beautiful location.  Travel is fun, inspirational and thought-provoking, sadly these type of posts don’t move me to explore.

2. The ‘Sitting-on-the-Edge’ post

There’s been a lot of media debate around the world about some of the Instagram posts from influencers who have perched at the edge of clifftops, balanced on the ledges of high rises or taken photos at extremely dangerous locations in the name of capturing a selfie.

Social media has opened the floodgates for recognition.  Wanting to be noticed is not inherently a bad habit – it is just basic human behavior, but Instagram is definitely allowing a portal for pushing physical limits of safety.

3. The ‘Hard-at-work-but-not-really’ post

Part 1:  Line up your laptop with some staged accessories and a backdrop of nice scenery

Part 2:  Take photos of the scene and post with captions such as ‘Long day answering emails and enquiries today from my 5-star beachfront bungalow’ or ‘Hustling from my office’.

4. The ‘Kids in pristine clothes’ post

As a parent of two rambunctious and active boys, I love following other family blogs, family travel experts and parenting Instagram accounts.

But the accounts I cringe at the most are the ones with kids in pristine clothes ALL THE TIME.

I appreciate there are people who are brand ambassadors, however there are a lot of Instagram accounts for babies or young children that border on unrealistic goals to ‘be a star’.

Instagram feeds the insecurities and anxieties of parenthood and it can be unhealthy whereby parents feel their kids must be preened and polished so you appear to be doing a good job.

Adweek reported that 50% of people felt that by comparing their accomplishments to those of others on social media, their self-esteem has suffered.   I wonder how many parents miss out on true genuine moments of childhood because they’re trying to pose for that perfect photo?

I prefer family accounts that share some authenticity; honest parenting is about sharing the mud, ruffled hair, dirty shoes, bedroom chaos and daily adventures of having kids.

It’s not about lining your toddler up in white dungarees on 1000-thread count Egyptian bed linen from (insert brand) so your (insert brand) room bunting and (insert brand) throw cushions look fabulous, darling.

5. The ‘Product placement trying to be cool’ post

How many times do we need to see a luxury watch placed beside a steering wheel in a supercar or a bottle of Champagne?  Apparently, Instagram loves it so the repetitive posts continue!

6. Ice creams

I love ice cream!  But I don’t really need to see it all through my Instagram feed to prove you’ve been to Rome, St Paul de Vence or Paris.

7. Inspiring quotes

I’m a firm believer in motivation, enthusiasm and determination but there are some Instagram accounts who overdo it with the inspirational quotes.  To put it bluntly, they don’t post anything else.

I don’t hate inspirational quotes but if you need to post 20 a day to get across a notion of hard work and success, then that’s fine – just don’t shove it in my face.  Hitting the ‘Unfollow’ button has never been so easy!

Do you have any pet hates on Instagram?   Or do you agree with my Instagram clichés above?   Which posts on Instagram drive you nuts?

To follow Access Riviera on Instagram, head over to www.instagram.com/ariviera06 where posts feature the good, the bad and the ugly of life on the French Riviera; no responsibility taken if posts are guilty of some or all of these clichés.

 

 

Flight delays, cancellations and unaccompanied minors

There have been numerous flight delays at Nice Côte d’Azur Airport and I have received feedback that the on-the-ground support for passengers has been tepid and somewhat lacking.

It seems that in recent weeks, passengers are not aware of their EU Air Passenger Rights in the event of lengthy flight delays or cancellations.

I have enquired about this with some of the airlines including a major low-cost carrier and they ensure me that all of their staff at Nice are aware of current regulations and trained – the reality is that passengers have told me that staff for various airlines are unwilling to answer queries, passengers have been left without meal vouchers and frustrations have been high.

delays nice airport

Nice Côte d’Azur Airport needs to be more consistent with information for passengers in the event of delays and cancellations

EU Air Passenger Rights

For passengers who have flights that are delayed or cancelled leaving from Nice Airport, you may be entitled to compensation and assistance under EU Air Passenger Rights.

EU Air Passenger Rights  set out guidelines for airlines – if you were denied boarding, your flight was cancelled, you experienced a delay of more than 2 hours at departure or you arrive with a long delay at your final destination, the operating air carrier must give you a written notice setting out the rules for compensation and assistance.

eu passenger rights

EU Passenger Rights (European Commision / Europa EU)

To check if EU Air Passenger Rights apply in your case, you can find out here: http://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/travel/passenger-rights/air/index_en.htm

There are also specific passenger rights for certain groups; you can read a previous blog post I wrote about EU Air Passenger Rights for musicians flying with instruments or people with reduced mobility.

For EasyJet flight delays and cancellations from Nice Airport, they advise passengers to please refer to the conditions set out on their website.  The guidelines are found under the ‘Help’ menu – ‘Boarding and Flying’ – ‘Delays and cancellations’.   It would be more beneficial to have a more visible menu for them such as ‘Flight delays and cancellations’ to make it quick and easy for passengers to find the information.  Regardless, if you need to review what Easyjet’s compensation policy is you can read it here:   https://www.easyjet.com/en/help/boarding-and-flying/delays-and-cancellations  and the EasyJet Claim Form is here EasyjetClaimFormEU261

For EasyJet refunds for cancelled flights, you can contact their Customer Service number, the best one is 0044 330 365 5454.  (The other line is +44 (0) 330 365 5000).

It’s important to note for flight delays and cancellations, that both the outbound and return flights are considered as two separate flights even if they were booked as part of one reservation.  In some cases the airline operating the flight may not be the same as the one from which you bought your ticket. In case of any difficulties only the airline which operates the flight can be held responsible.

Family travel

Airlines have regulations concerning children who are flying out of France with one or without both of their parents.  Many airlines have services to accompany unaccompanied children, such as Air France’s Kids Solo service.  The rules apply to residents in France, regardless of nationality.

There seems to be a lot of confusion among parents I have spoken to on the French Riviera who are unsure of the official regulations from France if the travelling child/ren and parents surnames differ, if one of the parents is not accompanying the child on the flight or if the child is flying solo (unaccompanied).

It’s important that you check the rules of each individual carrier to ensure you follow their necessary paperwork and procedures.

Interestingly, staff at Nice Airport have varying knowledge on the regulations so you are best to take as many pieces of evidence with you to check-in.

Parent & child with different surnames OR travelling with one parent only

If you are a parent and your child has a different surname, you must provide a letter of authorisation from the other parent giving permission for you to travel with the child out of France.

The travel authorisation is evidence to show that both guardians know and agree to allow a minor to leave the country, and is presented at the departure point, not the arrival point.

nice airport

Flying over the French Riviera (image: A Borchio)

As well as the travel authority letter, you should take a photocopy of the children’s birth certificate proving the names of both parents and if possible a photocopy of photo I.D for the absent parent who is not flying.

It is useful to also take a travel authorisation form if you have the SAME surnames but again the other parent is not travelling.

For a sample travel authorisation form, you can email me for a FREE template at accessriviera06@gmail.com

Unaccompanied minors from France

By law from January 2017, if your child is travelling with neither parent – therefore solo as an unaccompanied minor – you must fill in an ‘Authorisation de sortie du territoire (AST)’ .

The official form is also known as an authorization form Cerfa 15646*01, and is required for every unaccompanied resident minor departing France.  You must fill in one form per UMNR  and it must be accompanied with photo I.D. from parents.

The download and rules for the AST form are found here Authorisation de sortie du territoire / Cerfa 15646*01

Personal Note:  A few years ago a flight I took was delayed at London Heathrow and if I hadn’t been aware of my EU Passenger Rights I’m sure I wouldn’t have been confident enough to question the lack of support at Heathrow airport for 300+ passengers and get passengers meal vouchers after an extremely long wait with no information.  I have also been delayed with my eldest son for 3+ hours on the tarmac in Lyon – not a fun experience with kids – so bear in mind what your rights are.

DisclaimerThis post is for information purposes only and is subject to change at any time.  In each instance, please verify current regulations and rules with your operating airline at the time of need.

One year on from Nice

One year ago today, I was at Fondation Lenval, the Children’s Hospital in Nice, with my youngest son who was admitted for observation (and possible surgery).  We had been in the kids ward for a few days when my sister phoned me from abroad on 14 July and asked if we were OK.

I told her we were at Lenval and the phone went silent; she had just seen the breaking news of the attack on the Promenade des Anglais – an event that was completely unrelated to our own hospital stay but happened merely 150 metres from where we currently were.

Usually, my own family is watching Fête Nationale fireworks so my relief at knowing they were elsewhere at the fireworks in Juan les Pins was replaced with concern and sadness for those in Nice.

I had listened to the fireworks and fell asleep; within 30 minutes, a large squad of riot police was gathered outside our hospital room in the street below.  As a writer with connections to many global media contacts, it would have been easy for me to take photos and a video for a ‘Breaking News’ segment and have my 5-minutes of recognition with global media.  But, very quickly, I could tell that something serious had happened.

I turned on the TV and sat stunned as news reports updated the scene.  A nurse came into our room and began checking all the equipment we weren’t using; we shared a conversation and she simply said we had priority of care but she needed to be sure they could come to our room if needed to get extra equipment as they weren’t certain of the number of admissions yet.

My heart dropped as I looked at my own son sleeping, blissfully unaware of what was unfolding around him.

Our hospital room was many floors above the emergency arrivals entrance, and over the next few hours I felt immense sadness as I watched and listened to the stream of ambulances arriving at Lenval, knowing that each one had children inside.

As a parent, you have a strong sense of protection for your own children so to see emergency vehicles in great numbers and understand that someone else’s child is innocently injured and there is nothing you can do, it is a very cruel situation and heart-breaking.

I cried and hoped the children had their families with them. Sadly the truth was not so black-and-white, 44 patients arrived within 2 hours; 32 of those were children.

The next morning when my son had his scheduled X-rays, the waiting room was filled with injured children – broken limbs, head injuries and more.  I was shocked, angry and sad.  How could someone do something like this and target families out celebrating France’s largest national day?  I spoke with an 8-year old boy who was hit by the truck and flung with such force into a rubbish bin it broke both his legs and fractured his skull, he told me he was happy to be alive so he can go skateboarding again.

Later that day in the hospital playroom, there were young children in there who were non-communicative and numb; shocked into silence.  I wanted to give them all a big hug.

We checked out of Lenval the following day and as we left, a large number of media and TV crews were outside and presenting live feeds and coverage.   French media were very respectful; British media not so and some were effectively standing in the entrance ways to get interviews from people coming and going.  They were disrespectful and sadly showed the ugly face of media.

At the time we left Lenval, there were still 10 children who were being treated and had not been identified.   Lenval Hospital staff had worked tirelessly, doctors and nurses had arrived voluntarily from 14 July and psychologists were on hand to counsel families.

Even though we were not immediately involved, in the days after the attack I suffered from nightmares – I was trying to stop the truck in Nice and it turned out the guy just lost control rather than pre-meditated everything, I took the boys to summer fireworks and lost them in the crowd….

In the days following the attack in Nice, it would have been extremely easy for me to write a blog article about Nice to capitalise on all the internet traffic.   I noticed many articles on social media doing just that –  ‘Why Nice is still great’ and ‘Top 10 Reasons to Still Visit Nice’, but it seemed too raw to me and I felt a sense of guilt at being unharmed, a sense of sadness for the victims and their families and a sense of anger towards the attacker.

The attack in Nice injured almost 500 people and resulted in 86 deaths, including 10 children.

I will write a blog post in the future about why Nice is still great, but it won’t be today.   Today is for commemoration and solidarity for the victims and their families.

I will leave you with my personal Facebook status in the days afterwards when I was asked to do a radio interview and a beautiful video of Nice filmed and edited by Fabien Ecochard:

I feel immense sadness for these families and intense anger at the cruelty of this mans actions whether influenced by others or not.
Part of me doesn’t want to do this interview because I know they will ask me about the man and I think this evil bastard has had enough attention already. He was born on this planet like you and I – void of hatred and open to the joys of the world – yet somewhere in this 31-year old’s life he decided that harming innocent people was the best option.
But I feel a huge debt to these families who have lost loved ones and a city which is hurting.
I have the chance to speak about the Nice that they love and live in, a city that mixes not divides cultures, a place filled with amazing museums and little alleyways with kind people selling things that light up your senses such as homemade soap, fresh herbs and hand rolled pasta.
It’s the place to find a vintage postcard, a good glass of rosé and the best hot socca.
If you have ever sat on those blue chairs on the Prom and watched the world go by, you understand why Its ‘Nissa La Bella’. If you’ve ever had a Fenocchio ice cream on a hot day, you get it. If you’ve ever arrived at Nice Airport or walked up Castle Hill and seen that turquoise sea from above, you know the feeling.
It’s where memories should be created for a lifetime, not destroyed in an instant.
I shall share the Nice I know and hope I don’t cry!

 

UPDATE: Fête Nationale fireworks on the French Riviera

On 14 July 2017, it will be a national bank holiday however the usual Fête Nationale (Bastille Day) fireworks and celebrations on the French Riviera will be replaced by a day of commemoration and memory for the victims of last years attack on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice.

ANTIBES

To honour the memory of the victims and show the support of Antibes-Juan les Pins, a ceremony of remembrance will be held at 11am on Friday 14 July at Place des Martyrs de la Résistance, beside the carousel in Old Town Antibes.

Jazz à Juan will now also commence on Saturday 15 July.

The fireworks for Fête Nationale will now be at 10.30pm on Saturday 15 July in the bay of Juan les Pins, as well as 10pm on Sunday 16 July off Salis and Ponteil beaches in Antibes.

GOLFE JUAN / VALLAURIS

The Fête Nationale ceremony organised by the Municipality of Vallauris-Golfe Juan will be held on Friday 14 July at the Monument aux Morts at 10.30am in Golfe Juan and 11.45am in Vallauris.  This will be followed by a tribute to the victims of the 14 July 2016 attack in Nice.

The fireworks for Fête Nationale will now be at 10pm on Monday 17 July in the bay of Golfe Juan.

NICE

This year, Nice is organising a day of tribute on 14 July to the victims, to the dedication of the public health, relief and security services, but also to the heroes, witnesses and anonymous victims and their families.  The programme is:

9am-8pm:  Participative tribute, quai des Etats-Unis

4.30pm:  Parade at Place Massena and municipal tribute

9pm:  Concert by the Philarmonic Orchestra of Nice at Promenade du Peillon

10.34pm  A minutes silence will be observed

NOTE:  There will be no changes to any Fête Nationale events already scheduled for 13 or 15 July.  The events on 14 July for Cannes, St Paul de Vence, Roquebrune Cap Martin and Valbonne remain unchanged.