In the first of three blogs looking at how Dorset’s cultural organisations might tap into European visitor markets, we look at the French market – what they like, what they expect, and what attracts them.

The National Coastal Tourism Academy (NCTA), based in Bournemouth, has funding from Discover England to look at how to increase international visitors to various parts of England’s coast, including the south.  As part of their initial research they have delved into what international visitors expect to experience and identified primary and secondary drivers for each country – and this makes very interesting reading for anyone involved in Dorset’s arts, culture and heritage organisations!

It shows that visitors from France hold a slightly less positive view of Britain than other countries, and their expectation levels for standards and services are high. They are less likely to have visited the English coast (particularly younger visitors), but those who have would recommend it. In 2016, visitors from France spent an average of £338 average spend per visit over 4-5 days.

So, what do our neighbours across the channel enjoy?

  •  Visiting castles and stately homes, and recognisable landmarks
  • Learning about local history and culture
  • Enjoy going on coastal walks and visiting local markets – although few consider Britain as a good place for food and drink.
  • They associate Britain with music and museums, and rate Britain for its contemporary culture.
  • They are also keen to have information in their own language!
Corfe Castle, Purbeck

Corfe Castle, Purbeck

This information can inform how cultural organisations promote themselves to international visitors, and support upselling through recommending experiences that will provide a unique and memorable visit.  For example, a local heritage attraction, such a museum, could partner with a restaurant nearby, and recommend/ encourage French visitors to visit it to try local food. The same restaurant could make sure that leaflets for the museum are available; and that their staff know the rudiments of what is on display for different types of visitor (such as activities for families, or special displays).  Both could ask staff to at least know basic and farewells in French, to improve the overall visitor experience.

Kingston Lacy, Wimborne

Kingston Lacy, Wimborne

Tap into the potential for growing your visitor numbers

Those that have positive experiences will recommend Dorset to friends and family – important, as knowledge of English coastal areas is low among international visitors.  But there is so much that cultural organisations – from heritage sites to art galleries, from theatres to restaurants serving local food – can do to promote the beautiful areas in which they are situated. Visitors to England from Germany, Holland and France account for 9.36 million visitors a year and there is still potential for growth. So be prepared to tap into the potential!

To learn more about the cultural delights of Dorset, coastal and otherwise, visit Dorset Ambassador, a free online training tool or download your free brochure guide here

And look out for the launch of England’s Coast Ambassador, which will detail the needs of international visitors and what they would like to see and do in your region.

Learn more about the NCTA’s England’s Coast project and how you can be part of it here