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Tourist office or souvenir shop…a transformation of tourist reception?

After spending a few weeks on vacation in the south of France and in Italy, I had the opportunity to go to several Tourist Offices to see how other destinations were organized in terms of tourist reception. But one thing has begun to challenge me strongly. The place that the shops were beginning to take within the reception centres. You could say, Yes, but in Italy it’s not the same… The problem is that I didn’t discover this phenomenon in Italy but in France, in Offices of the same category as the one I run today. On some sites, the shop occupies more than two-thirds of the space, to sell local products of course… but that’s how to make it big.

In a context where financing is more and more complicated, with the sword of Damocles of the intermunicipal grouping which can sometimes scramble the budgetary commitments, I understand that self-financing is a way to dig in the years to come and that the development of a shop within a Tourist Office is essential now. But from there to transforming the reception into a souvenir shop, we change jobs. Offering products from the destination brand is indeed important for its development, but a certain balance must also be respected.

What about the development of our professions in all this?

the current challenge, at a time when the digitization of information professions is passing an important stage, is it not to go further in humanizing our information? To pass from the status of Travel Advisor (who only has advice in name as long as the Tourism Code does not allow us to provide real advice with real emotions and a bias that could however push destinations and their players towards a real search for quality) to that of destination expert or do we want to recruit salespeople and salespeople for our reception in a few years? I seriously wonder.

There are other paths than the development of these souvenir shops that our structures can take, certainly by adding a share of risk in the self-financing but which perhaps could also make our structures grow. Many are still developing tourist or event projects willingly or by force at a loss, see themselves passing on projects or equipment which from the outset are not economically viable, but that’s okay, the Tourist Office is like the festival committee or the neighborhood association which must please its inhabitants or partners, earning money is not the goal… Yet today, being a Tourist Office is a real job, with real people, real professionals and real entrepreneurs…

So why be too small to sell four t-shirts and a key ring per month when you could be a real economic player with projects that are at least financially balanced, offering a real professional development proposal to the staff of the Tourist Offices … and avoid turning into a souvenir shop in the future?

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