Tourism, a sustainable industry for the Ardennes
Tourism is a vital sector within for a territory's economy. According to the Regional Tourism Observatory of Champagne-Ardenne, economic benefits of tourism in 2015 are estimated at 77 million euros, and 1 400 jobs are related to this industry in the Ardennes (French and Belgian).
In the Ardennes, the number of tourists has been on the rise since 2012, and in particular the frequency of visits to "Natural" sites (+69% between 2005-2014). This development has resulted in a passion among consumers for products and services that are respectful towards environment (made in France, short supply channels…) ; the "search for nature" has become the third most sought after factor for short stays, after the seaside and family/friends.
The Ardennes offer all of the resources required for the development of this new tourist model: local products, a lush setting…. To this end, the Ardennes Tourism Development Agency (Agence de Développement Touristique des Ardennes, ADT) has implemented various measures with a view to adding value and structure to this sector. In particular, the ADT has established a club of professionals who implement a sustainable development chart, based on three pillars:
- economy: to add value to the Ardennes economy and to work to ensure that the benefits resulting from tourism are translated into local jobs
- social: to encourage tourism for all: social tourism and Tourism & Disability
- environment: to assist tourist service providers in reducing the impact of their business on the environment and to raise the awareness of tourists regarding the protection of the environment
In order to highlight the Ardennes in this respect, the Ardennes Tourism Development Agency organised during summer 2016 an exhibition at the Vitrine des Ardennes [Ardennes Showcase] (Place Ducale, Charleville-Mézières), which, among others products, offered a selection of products local to "Ardennes de France". This exhibition, "Ecotourisme en Ardennes, des vacances autrement" [Ecotourism in the Ardennes, holidays with a difference] allowed visitors to discover the eco-accommodation, to visit environmentally responsible attractions, to enjoy the "itinérance douce" [soft travel] trails - in particular trails along the departments greenways – all while receiving an introduction to eco-practices: bicycle repair, cookery workshops, driftwood processing workshops… and participating in the various hikes and visits offered throughout summer.
By Ardennes Développement, the Ardennes economic development agency - ardennes-developpement.com