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Finding a real definition of the destination brand is not easy. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in charge of tourism, the concept of a national tourism brand can be summed up as “Quality Tourism”, “Destination for all” or “Tourism and disability”. Which despite the interest that sovereign structures may have in these “labels”, have no specific interests in the marketing sense of the term in the eyes of consumers.

Another notion is cited, that of destination contracts. A project that was born following the foundations of tourism so that the territories can have the support of the state and Atout France to develop.

Destination contracts unite all tourism players around the same brand of territory in order to create a better structured and more visible offer on an international level.

Twenty destination contracts were selected by two calls for projects organized by the Directorate General for Enterprise between July 2014 and January 2015.

They are co-signed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development, the Secretary of State in charge of foreign trade, the promotion of tourism and French people living abroad, and the Secretary of State in charge of ‘social and solidarity economy.

The 20 destination contracts signed in 2014 and 2015 are grouped into five themes.

1. The heritage offer

  • Mont Saint-Michel and its Bay
  • The Loire Valley
  • Normandy Paris Ile-de-France – Destination Impressionism
  • Around the Louvre Lens
  • Paris, the augmented city

2. Ecotourism, good living and discovery of natural and heritage sites

  • Brittany
  • Arts of living in Provence
  • Corsica
  • Dordogne Valley
  • Guyana

3. Wine tourism and gastronomy

  • Champagne
  • Burgundy
  • Bordeaux
  • Lyon City of gastronomy

4. The mountain and healing

  • Jura mountains
  • Massif of the Vosges
  • Trip to the Alps
  • Auvergne
  • Pyrenees

5. Sport and relaxation

  • Biarritz destination Golf

These contracts complement the four destination contracts that were signed by the Minister of Tourism, Ms. Pinel between July 2013 and February 2014, on the theme of itinerant, business and remembrance tourism:

The “Tarn et Garonne” destination contract is intended to develop itinerant tourism, by structuring a range of tourist routes with a European dimension, setting up a network of sites and quality services, welcoming and solidarity, and the organization of the receptive and information around innovative digital products. 20/07/2013

The objective of the “Alsace” destination contract is to develop business tourism, by promoting the hosting of congresses, conventions, seminars and corporate events, national and international, in order to strengthen the visibility of the destination, especially internationally. 22/07/2013

The “Centenary of the Great War” destination contract brings together the State, ten communities and partner associations, as well as fourteen companies, actors from the French part of the western front line, in order to bring out a tourist offer of excellence. with international visibility, based on the discovery of the First World War memory offer. 14/11/2013

The “Remembrance Tourism in Normandy” destination contract promoted by the State with some twenty public and private partners aims to create an innovative and adapted tourist offer around this theme, to develop the number of visitors to the sites and to make Normandy a region carrying the values of peace, reconciliation and freedom. 20/02/2014

It simply surprises me in this list not to find the Côte d’Azur, a true French historical destination which is the image of summer tourism with international influence.

“Even if the administrative borders change, the tourist destinations persist. Lorraine offers many assets with known and recognized names, whether geographical or linked to tourist equipment. Federated around Lorraine Tourisme, tourist actors are invited to demonstrate their desire to build together an attractive image of a territory that is resolutely touristic, in the same way as the other destinations located in the East of France, such as Alsace, Champagne, the Massif des Vosges or the Ardennes. around determined values, La Lorraine wishes to attract a renewed national and international clientele, and increase the economic benefits for the benefit of tourism professionals.Through a destination branding approach, La Lorraine is equipping itself with a images, values and messages. This brand guide helps to bring it to life, through the employees and partners of Lorraine Touri sme who are its first ambassadors. Reinforcing the tourist notoriety of La Lorraine by a logic of destination branding and catalysing all the energies linked to the development of tourism and the attractiveness of this vast unique territory: this is the strategic challenge for Lorraine tourism. Indeed, we are in the best position to carry our identity, highlight our strengths or explain our strategy. “

Introduction to the Lorraine Tourisme brand guide

We can then make a link between Territory and Identity but also between Destination and Image.

Let’s go then to the definition of protected territorial brand.

“To date, there is no definition of what a “protected territorial mark” is: it has no regulatory character and does not call on any existing classification or labelling. Filing at the INPI was mentioned. The INPI being a trademark registration body, does not deliberate on the interest and justification of such a mark for the territory, it does not answer the question of the tourist character of the territory.

Clarification has been requested from the government in this regard, to date still unspecified. In 2018, only a few stations used this principle of protected territorial branding. Most of the territories that have pleaded for this addition have apparently benefited from the possibility left by the mountain law to maintain a fully communal tourist office. said Charlotte Emery of MONA

On June 13, 2018, the deputy of Gard, Philippe Berta tabled a bill aimed at clarifying a little the concept of territorial brand. Below is his proposal text:




Checked in to the Presidency of the National Assembly on June 13, 2018.


relating to territorial marks ,

(Returned to the Committee on Cultural Affairs and Education, failing constitution
of a special committee within the deadlines provided for in Articles 30 and 31 of the Rules.)

presented by

Mr. Philippe BERTA,



Ladies and gentlemen,

The policies of promotion and attractiveness are major challenges for local authorities territorial. To carry them out, the process of creating and promoting of a brand, like the strategies of companies, develops in the public sphere. The territorial brand, in fact, makes it possible to convey a recognizable identity and bearer of meaning and values.

If article 68 of the Law No. 2015-991 of August 7, 2015 on the new organization territory of the Republic (NOTRe law) established the notion of “trademark protected territory” ( 1 ) , however, he did not give a definition. Therefore, this concept must be interpreted with regard to the general framework of trademark law defined by the code intellectual property ( 2 ) . The protected territorial brand must be filed by the local authorities with the National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI), which will check its validity and register it. She gives her ten-year protection renewable indefinitely.

Through this, the local authorities strive to acquire an image that makes their territories with different audiences, residents, investors or tourists. This affirmation of the territory’s identity responds both to external objectives, such as the development of tourism or the establishment of businesses, and internal objectives such as social cohesion, adherence to a project local or even the development of a territorial dynamic.

The choice of a name, or a slogan, is the central element in the creation of this territorial brand. To to allow local authorities to adapt their terminology to their target, from the local communication with an international influence, it is advisable to offer them the freedom to choose the most suitable language option.

However, in application of Article 14 of Law No. 94-665 of August 4, 1994 relating to the use of the French language, the use of a trade mark factory, trade or service, consisting of an expression or term foreigner is prohibited to legal persons governed by public law as soon as it exists a French expression or term with the same meaning approved in the conditions provided for by the regulatory provisions relating to French language enrichment. »

In application of Article L. 711-3 of the Intellectual Property Code, which prohibits registration as trademarks of signs whose use is legally prohibited, the registration of a trademark in a foreign language by persons concerned is therefore prohibited.

Furthermore, and whatever the owner of the mark (private or public person), Article 2 of the Law No. 94-665 of August 4, 1994 provides that the use of the language French is compulsory for the ” notices and recorded messages with the mark .

Many disputes legal, on the basis of the two articles of the law of August 4, 1994 mentioned above, have put, in recent years, local authorities in difficulty in their policy of promoting the territory through the creation of a brand.

This proposal for law therefore aims to allow the territorial marks of legal persons to public right to benefit from a derogatory status allowing them adapt their terminology to the target audience, by using a language foreign or regional.


Article 1

Section 2 of the law no. 94-665 of August 4, 1994 relating to the use of the French language is completed by the sentence:

“However, employment of the French language is not compulsory in the mentions and messages registered with a protected territorial mark. »

Section 2

The II of Article 14 of Law No. 94-665 of August 4, 1994 relating to the use of the French language is completed by the words: “ni aux protected territorial marks. »

1() This article provides that “when coexist in the territory of the same municipality or of the same public institution for inter-municipal cooperation in own taxation several protected territorial brands distinct by their location, their name or their method of management, the municipality is authorized to create a tourist office for each of the sites with a brand protected area” (art. L. 133-1 of the tourism code).

2()Aldo Sevino, The “protected territorial brand” at the heart of the strategy local tourism, The legal week Administrations and local authorities territories n° 2, 18 January 2016.

The debate has continued since the implementation of this law since in August 2018, the deputy for Allier Jean Paul Dufrègne questions the Minister of Territorial Cohesion on a point of the NOTRe law which has a strong impact on classified tourist resorts. Here is his speech:

Mr. Jean-Paul Dufrègne questions the Minister of Territorial Cohesion on what the Government intends to do regarding the obligation to have a category 1 tourist office in order to claim classification as a classified tourist resort. Law No. 2006-437 of April 14, 2006 simplified the legal regime of classified tourist resorts by substituting the 6 possible classification categories into a single category, the classified tourist resort, accessible only to municipalities having obtained the designation as a municipality. touristic. One of the criteria for this classification requires the municipality to have a tourist office (municipal or inter-municipal) classified in category 1. This only criterion for the tourist office, very demanding, does not take into account the size of the municipality or the territory. Thus, for example, in the first district of Allier, the municipality of Bourbon l’Archambault lost the classification of a classified tourist resort in 2014 because it did not have a category 1 tourist office. Municipalities of this size do not have the means to obtain this classification, which penalizes them greatly. It therefore requests it so that this criterion can be adapted to the territory. He thus wishes to know what the Government intends to do in this direction, in particular by modifying the conditions of application of the provisions of article R. 133-37 of the code of tourism contained in article 3 of title II of the decree of September 2, 2008 relating to tourist municipalities and classified tourist resorts in order to abolish the obligation for municipalities with fewer than 10,000 inhabitants (and intermunicipalities with fewer than 30,000 inhabitants), for example, to have a category 1 tourism to obtain classification as a classified tourist resort.

The minister then replies:

Before Law No. 2006-437 of April 14, 2006 simplifying the legal regime of classified tourist resorts, 537 municipalities were classified among the 6 existing categories. Since the entry into force of the law on March 3, 2009, 346 municipalities have been classified according to the new text. Among them, 277 are formerly classified municipalities that have renewed their classification. One of the mandatory criteria for obtaining classification as a tourist resort is to have a tourist office classified in category 1, competent in the territory of the municipality requesting classification. This criterion is indeed demanding but reflects the desire to establish the territory of the classified tourist resort as a place of tourist excellence, reception and services for the tourist population who frequent the territory. Thus the 346 classified tourist resorts all meet a set of identical criteria. In addition, the law of April 14, 2006 had provided for transition periods so that the former classified municipalities could have their classification renewed. Three times, the legislator has postponed the expiry dates to stop on January 1, 2018, the end of the old rankings. An amendment to the finance law for 2018 allowed municipalities whose classification was in progress or those whose tourist office was in the process of being classified in category 1, following the decentralization laws of 2015 and 2016, to maintain the benefits acquired until the decision to classify or reject the application for classification. The town of Bourbon-l’Archambault thus permanently lost its old classification on January 1, 2018. This commune of the Allier counted in the 2015 census of INSEE, 2556 inhabitants. Among the 346 stations classified on October 1, 2018, 181 municipalities (52.3%) have fewer than 5,000 inhabitants and 116 (33.5%) are municipalities with fewer than 3,000 inhabitants, the demographic stratum in which Bourbon-l’ Archambault. Law 2015-991 of August 7, 2015, known as the NOTRe law, transferred the “promotion of tourism, including the creation of tourist offices” competence from the municipalities to the Public Establishments for Inter-municipal Cooperation (EPCI) of attachment. The strengthening of intermunicipal cooperation, by pooling resources, has enabled the creation of intermunicipal tourist offices classified in category 1 and opened up the possibility of classification as a tourist resort for municipalities that could no longer achieve this objective alone. The commune of Bourbon – l’Archambault, which is the seat of the community of communes of the Bourbon countryside, will have to federate around its thermal and heritage tourist assets in order to obtain from the EPCI, the decision to create an intercommunal office classified as category 1. Finally, of the 346 municipalities classified on October 1, 2018, 70% have less than 10,000 inhabitants. Removing the classification of category 1 tourist offices for these municipalities would amount to calling into question the very essence of the classification as a tourist resort which aims for the excellence and attractiveness of these territories. The interministerial tourism committees of January 19, 2018 and July 19, 2018 approved the principle of simplifying the criteria linked to the classification of tourist offices and classified resorts. Less numerous and more operational, these criteria are no less demanding with regard to quality and the reception of tourists, but the abolition of the category 1 tourist office to gain the status of classified tourist resort n is not considered by the Government.

Since then, the Montagne II law has made an exception for ski resorts and complicates the understanding of territorial brand status at the legislative level. We will not be further advanced in this area…


If in French we only have the word “brand” to describe a name, symbol, sign or design used to identify the goods or services of a seller or group of sellers to differentiate it from its competitors, it is different in English. “Trademark” and “Brand” do not have the same meaning and their definitions will guide us more precisely in our research.

Renaud Vuignier, doctoral student at IDHEAP, University of Lausanne, will describe the term “trademark” in reference to the mark from a legal point of view and knows clear legal definitions in specific legal regimes which give rights of exploitation exclusive on a name, a slogan or a logo for example. As such, “a trademark is a sign that makes it possible to distinguish the products or services of one company from those of other companies. Trademarks are protected intellectual property rights” [1] For example, we speak of trademark (™) or registered trademark (®). This conception consists of the defensive function of the brand which seeks, by authenticating the provenance [2] , to protect against theft, copying, or even counterfeiting.

As for the term “brand”, Paul Manning of the University of Toronto will designate it as the brand in a broader and more polysemic way, as a marketing concept [3] . It has a nominal or symbolic identity that carries a promise embodied in products and services [4] completes Jean Noel Kapferer. This is the offensive function that aims to make a difference.

[1] WIPO (2015).

[2] Kapferer, J.-N. (2012) France: Why think brand?

[3] Manning Paul (2010) The semiotic of brand – Annual Review of anthropology

[4] Kapferer, J.-N. (2012) France: Why think brand?

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