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#05June 2019

Tourist mobility: a booster for the attractiveness of a region

In 2018, France attracted over 90 million tourists, and the regions are working to stand out by developing offers and attractions specific to tourists. Regions are increasing the number of services (multilingual apps, interactive guides, etc.) to bolster the traditional tourist offering. They also work to make the experience of travelling more pleasant and reassuring for passengers, creating transport systems that also serve as attractions: bus city tours, light tourist trains, etc. Public transport can sometimes prove to be real tourist assets, like line 14 in the Paris metro, the world’s first high-capacity driverless metro line. The growth of these services in recent years proves this fact: mobility is a real factor in attracting tourists.


Serving tourists

Tourist services are at the heart of RATP Group policy, which has developed multilingual apps for tourists and deploys teams to welcome and assist them in hubs, tourist destinations or on the occasion of major cultural and sporting events. RATP has also set up an account on the instant messaging app in Mandarin Chinese, WeChat, which now has over 600 million members.

RATP Group uses its WeChat account to reassure Chinese tourists before they travel and offers them a range of tickets payable in Renminbi (yuan), and the option to have the tickets posted to them in China.

RATP Group: unique expertise and experience in the tourist industry

RATP Group is a transport operator which is present is many cities around the world. Its presence in the major tourist destinations has forced it to tackle the specific demands of visitors in terms of mobility, which are different to those of the local population. It has therefore taken extensive steps to adapt its traditional services to facilitate flows in the city to generate a seamless integration of the flows of tourists and locals.

This has resulted in numerous practical initiatives, such as providing frequent transport services on metro lines between transport hubs and major tourist sites and by creating specific services for tourists to enable them to travel around more easily. In Paris, RATP Group operates Orlyval, an automated light metro shuttle system between the Antony RER station and Orly Airport, thus providing a quick connection between central Paris and the airport. This service is supplemented by Orlybus, which has been expanded and extended with additional schedules.

Dedicated offers

Dedicated offers

The Group has used the dynamism of tourist mobility to develop offers and services entirely dedicated to passengers. The aim here is not only to enable them to travel around more easily, but to also to make mobility an integral part of their journey. This is how sightseeing was born, a double-decker panoramic bus trip, which provides a unique view of the city and has enabled Open Tour, the dedicated RATP Group subsidiary, to now run in Paris and London where it operates 100%-electric sightseeing buses: a world first.

50 million tourists welcomed every year in the Île-de-France region. Over 75% use the metro and nearly half of these use the RER
60 stations equipped with Zenway multilingual information touch screens
10 languages in the “Next Stop Paris” app enable visitors to explore Paris and the Paris region

New ways of exploring the city

In view of the size of cities and central urban spaces, tourists have always had a propensity to use public transport to get around. The new forms of mobility (Open Tour buses, scooters and even bicycles, urban tracks and walks, etc.) appear to be increasingly popular additional services which offer tourists new ways of exploring the city or of discovering new places, enhancing the attractiveness of a destination, which is no longer restricted to the central area.

The issue of tourist mobility has long been overlooked, as there was little data on which to base any understanding, but we are now learning more, because it is a key factor in what makes the various regions attractive destinations.

Gwendal Simon
Lecturer at the University of Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée and researcher at the Laboratoire Ville Mobilité Transport

Give tourists the key to the city

Despite the high diversity of tourists, common expectations in terms of mobility seem to emerge. Regardless of where they come from, visitors demand flexibility and freedom as well as safety when travelling. They want to be able to combine exploration, speed, the ability to wander around and efficiency. Depending on the situation, to stroll about and explore, or what can be called “relaxed mobility”, knowing that they can rely on a clear and well-integrated transport service in the area that guarantees speed and security, both in terms of time and space.

The challenge of tourist mobility in the future will be to truly give tourists the key to the city by increasing the options and combinations of travel within it, limiting the disruption of transfers. The role of the transport operators will then be to provide this flexibility, freedom and security across the entire region so that tourists not only visit the city centres, but also take a wider interest in the suburbs surrounding towns and cities, and even in the suburbs alone.

Flows of locals and tourists: the aim for a seamless integration

The Île-de-France region is the top tourist destination in the world, with a record of almost 40 million tourist visits in 2018. This area is home to many remarkable places, in Paris of course, but also in other towns in the region like Versailles and Fontainebleau. The magnet of the Île-de-France region requires the organisation of transport into the city and also within the city to seamlessly integrate the flows of tourists and locals.

The transport system is one of the region’s areas of expertise, we are therefore responsible for ensuring this mobility with the operators.

Hamida Rezeg
Vice President of the IDF region responsible for tourism

Make the everyday life of tourists easier

The Île-de-France region is implementing numerous initiatives to facilitate the movement of tourists around the city, including the Welcome project, where multilingual staff members are available in stations and airports to help tourists, or the “Paris Region Pass”, launched last year in collaboration with RATP. This service, which combines a travel pass and a cultural pass, makes the everyday life of tourists easier, because they can use a single ticket to travel around the area on public transport, visit museums and access dedicated offers and services (cruises on the Seine, excursions on the panoramic bus, etc.).

The suitability of the tourism offer in the Île-de-France region requires efficient mobility solutions to enable the optimal movement of visitors while responding to their specific requirements.

Hamida Rezeg
Vice President of the IDF region responsible for tourism

The Mont-Salève cable car: the Eiffel Tower of the Monts de Genève

The Mont-Salève cable car made almost 300,000 trips in 2018, among which the many tourists eager to explore Mont-Salève in a unique way. It is therefore a real attraction in the region. Visible from a distance and overlooking the Monts de Genève region, it serves as a real “Eiffel Tower” of the Monts de Genève. It also answers the challenge of how tourists move around the area, in particular the flow of traffic; in the holiday season, the car trip to the upper station takes roughly 30 minutes on a winding and frequently congested route.

The cable car is the perfect solution for tourists who want to explore the Salève region during the 5-minute ascent without worrying about how to get there.

Florent Giraud
Director, Monts de Genève Tourist Office

Heritage and a brand image

Visitors who take the Mont-Salève cable car really appreciate this moment of pure escape that allows them to quickly get closer to the mountain’s “oxygen lung” to enjoy the breathtaking panoramic view. The full refurbishment of the cable car will highlight the 1930s architectural heritage, and will boost the brand image of the region.

The renovation will allow us to go from access to a panoramic view to a genuine leisure and tourist site in the middle of nature, while also preserving the natural surroundings.

Florent Giraud
Director, Monts de Genève Tourist Office

Innovation and diversity at the core of RATP Group’s mobility offer

RATP Group has placed innovation and diversity at the core of its tourist mobility development strategy to respond as effectively as possible to passenger needs. This policy is now reflected in a collaborative approach which seeks to offer tourists a wide range of innovative mobility solutions. To improve the overall quality of its service, the Group has, in particular, developed dedicated offers such as a sightseeing and double-decker panoramic bus that allows you to explore the city from a different perspective.

The offer also aims to serve local residents, who have often never experienced their own city from this angle! RATP Group is heavily involved in this initiative, and has launched the Extrapolitan network to bring together as many operators as possible to share know-how regarding tourist buses, which includes a joint venture to switch to electric or natural gas buses and ticketing solutions, etc.

A partnership-based approach

We are working closely with private stakeholders (Fly View, My Little Paris) but also with other players in the region to ensure our offer is more innovative and coherent. In Paris, we are collaborating with the Direction de la Voirie de la Mairie de Paris (the City of Paris Directorate of Roads) to select the stops with the transport authority, with Île-de-France Mobilités (IDFM) (the organising authority for public transport in the Paris-Île-de-France region) to define the routes, and with the Préfecture de Police to keep the traffic flowing smoothly.

Along with our partners, we are offering innovations such as virtual reality or a combination of several means of transport.

Ronan Bois
Sightseeing Director at RATP Dev
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