The Remembrance Tourism Meetings 2015


On 26 November 2015, nearly 200 stakeholders concerned by Remembrance sites took part in Paris in the third Remembrance Tourism Meetings organised by the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Tourism.


The third Remembrance Tourism Meetings (RTM), which took place on 26 November at the Ecole Militaire were opened and chaired by two Secretaries of State: Jean-Marc Todeschini, responsible for veterans and remembrance and Matthias Fekl, responsible for foreign trade, the promotion of tourism and French people living abroad.


The goal of the organisers of this event - the the Ministry of Defence's Department of Remembrance, Heritage and Archives (DMPA) and the Ministry of Tourism's Directorate General for business (DGE) - was to bring together all tourism stakeholders and professionals. Government representatives, elected officials, project promoters and economic agents in the territories thus shared their experiences.

These RTM meetings have been organised as a result of the boom in remembrance tourism. The first Meetings, held in Paris in 2011, brought together Government and local representatives concerned by this tourist sector on the eve of the centenary of the First world war and the 70th anniversary of the Liberation of France. It was then decided that one out of every two events, following a two-year cycle, would be organized by a local authority in order to get local stakeholders involved. So in 2013, the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region hosted the second event. Given the enthusiasm generated by the commemorations, the two ministries decided to repeat this event in 2015.

The round table discussions in the morning focused on the wealth of commemorative events in 2014 and their impact on tourist appeal in the areas concerned. The tools to structure remembrance tourism were presented as were the means to have these tools taken on board in the field. Finally, the international tourism development around the memorial heritage was discussed with the examples of Belgium and Canada.

During the three workshops in the afternoon, different themes were addressed by project promoters and museum and memorial directors: innovation in museum projects, networking by the local authorities of the various memorial sites on their territory or the contribution of destination contracts to the territories' tourism strategy.


In the context of the commemorations of the centenary of the Great War and the 70th anniversary of the Liberation, this study day enabled remembrance and tourism operations performed by the government, national partners, contemporary conflict museum and memorial network members (MMCC) and local authorities to be presented. State actions as part of commemorations or in support of projects in the territories have already had beneficial effects. On the local level, a multitude of initiatives have blossomed, such as the labelling of First World War projects or certification for those of the Second World War.

All remembrance tourism stakeholders have come to the same conclusion: local actions have generated huge enthusiasm. The figures do not lie. Visitor numbers to memorial sites were up 40% in 2014 compared to 2013. More than ever, these sites are experienced as places devoted to "contemplation and emotion, a place to learn peace." From this point of view, the "emotional power" of the 70th anniversary of the Liberation was undeniable and with young people being mobilised around and coming into contact with the veterans, the values of peace, freedom and reconciliation were put to the forefront, especially in the commemorative ceremonies.


Beyond the highlights that are the commemorations, discussions in the meetings showed the importance of generating new visits by renewing the remembrance and tourist offer through events such as temporary exhibitions for example. On the subject of labelling, branding is considered as a means to ensure greater visibility of remembrance tourism actions; as proven by the brands Western Front or D-Day Normandie, Terre de Liberté.

The course to be set is clear. The territories must focus their efforts on improving quality in three areas: reception of visitors, proximity to individuals and mediation. In order to sustain this sector, local stakeholders believe that it is necessary to listen to young people in order to develop new approaches to mediation and learning. The training of mediators (English speaking, teaching...) will enrich the memorial offer to have it match the needs of visitors.

As for the tourist offer, the debates focused on the search for excellence but also on a specialist or multi-specialist offer for French sites (remembrance, oenology, gastronomy...), not to mention the effort to be made in terms of online offers. Local stakeholders must integrate this reality into their memorial and tourist projects since 75 percent of bookings are made before departure and mainly over the Internet. Everyone measured the importance of a better offer in a favourable context for remembrance tourism. Its economic impact is growing: "travel creates wealth on the territories it passes through".

In this event, the two ministries reaffirmed their commitment in favour of remembrance tourism in different capacities. For its part, the Ministry of Defence supports local players in developing their remembrance projects and finances and structures this tourist sector by developing its own sites and driving the MMCC network. As part of a Defence-Tourism partnership agreement, the State works on different structuring actions including the quality of visitor reception at remembrance sites or establishing an observation tool run by "Atout France". It is also involved in the "Centenary of the Great War" and "Remembrance Tourism in Normandy" destination contracts.

Finally, the Ministry of Defence helps promote remembrance tourism by informing tourism professionals and the general public about the remembrance sites for which the State is responsible in France and abroad. Thus, in the Meetings, it presented its exhibition that highlights the key sites. Furthermore, for the fourth consecutive year it is partner to the "Remembrance Tourism" pavilion at the World Tourism Fair from 17 to 20 March 2016 at Porte de Versailles in Paris.

Guillaume Pichard - Head of war graves and partnerships with territories, DMPA

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The Liberations

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