The second largest city in France, twice as big as Paris in terms of size, Marseille was historically the most important trade centre in the region and functioned as the main trade port of the French Empire. Today it stands proud as France's largest city on the Mediterranean coast and largest commercial port. The feeling you get walking up and down the Old Port and going through its many colourful districts (or arrondissements as they’re called in French) is that of a bustling, buzzing city with always something interesting on offer for its visitors. It is said there are 111 different villages in Marseille, and that’s definitely true!
Growing every year
As you would expect, the number of conferences, whether national or international, is growing every year. In fact, in just under 15 years, the number of meeting days in Marseille has more than doubled, with around 55% of all events involving the medical sector. This outstanding growth due not only to the presence of outstanding meeting venues (more on this pages 5 to 7 of this supplement) but also to constant investment in tourism infrastructure. In Marseille, there are cultural edifices designed by internationally acclaimed architects (who hasn’t heard of the MuCEM?) as well as facilities that improve daily life for Marseille locals and benefit visiting tourists. The Mayor of Marseille, Jean-Claude Gaudin, together with his Deputy Mayor, Dominique Vlasto, have developed an ambitious strategic vision: the development of the city must come from the development of its tourism industry.
Maxime Tissot, General Manager of Marseille Tourist & Conference Office, puts it like this: ‘There’s a real synergy among all the business tourism professionals from Marseille. Nobody works by themselves, everybody’s busy selling, promoting the destination as a whole. We can really feel there is a kind of collective spirit in Marseille: we all act as economic boosters, knowing the impact a conference can have on a great destination like ours.’
To formalise this approach, an Ambassador Club was recently set up, on the initiative of the Convention Bureau. City ambassadors are crucial in helping a destination attract large international conferences as they are experts in their field and can help identify key events which they would like to see hosted in their home city. Each event in turn generates millions of euros in economic benefit for the region.
Pascale Bigo, Conference Development Manager at Marseille Congrès Convention Bureau, said: ‘Becoming an ambassador is a fantastic opportunity to showcase your home city - including its scientific innovation or research, culture, and heritage - to your colleagues around the world. Working together as joint advocates allows us to get our messages out to the right people and show just why businesses should recognise Marseille as a world class destination for conferences.’ In the long term, the aim is to make Marseille the second French congress destination, right after Paris.
To learn more about Marseille, download and read Rémi Dévé's report here.
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