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France/ 4. Current issues in cultural policy development and debate  

4.3 Other relevant issues and debates

Tourism and culture

The development of international tourism is increasing. The total number of incoming international tourists in the world exceeded a billion in 2012, according to the Barometer of the World Tourism Organisation. It is a major issue for France because it is one of the first world tourist destinations, with 84.5 million incoming foreign tourists in 2015. Tourism represents 7% of the GDP, and 2 millions of direct and indirect employment. The cultural dimension of this tourism is essential: museums, monuments and sites, festivals and cultural events attract every year millions of French and foreign visitors.

In this context, the question of the interactions between tourism and culture is regularly discussed: not only issues of cultural tourism, but also the limits and the differences between tourism and cultural promotion. At a national level it requires inter-ministerial collaborations (see chapter 3.3) that are implemented by decentralised bodies (Regional Directorates of Cultural Affairs, tourism offices, etc.). Most of the territorial authorities also conduct actions in favour of cultural tourism: labelling of patrimonial sites, support to the collaboration between cultural operators and local tourism agencies, etc.

In 2010 the site, was launched. It is a multilingual reference tool about France that targets the international public. It promotes France through three main contents: tourism, culture and the economy. In 2014, following the National Convention on Tourism organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, five poles of touristic excellences were identified to adapt and improve France touristic offer: pole “wine tourism”, pole “savoir-faire tourism”, pole “night tourism”, pole “ecotourism” and pole “summer mountain tourism”. An annual Conference of Tourism was also created to gather representatives and professionals, with the mission to follow up France touristic strategy, with the objective to reach 100 million international visitors in 2020.

These issues are all the more salient that the series of terrorist attacks in France from 2015, in particular in very emblematic touristic places like Paris or Nice, had bad consequences on the foreign touristic frequentation (-7% in 2016). In this evil context, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs launched an emergency economic committee on tourism to respond the difficulties of the tourism industry.

Culture and sustainable development

Sustainable development is an increasingly more important concern of cultural policies, following the recommendations of Agenda 21 for Culture that advocates the notions of cultural diversity, of crosscutting approaches to culture and participative democracy. A balance on the implementation of Agenda 21 on Culture in France was realised in 2008 ( This report indicates that in June 2007, 18 French territorial authorities were registered by CGLU as territorial authorities that use the Agenda in their urban policies. It also indicates that the public policies of French local governments should strengthen innovation and look for new initiatives adapted to the new paradigms of cultural policies.

In November 2012, the Ministries in charge of cultural affairs of France and Quebec co-organised in Paris an international colloquium "Culture and sustainable development", to advocate innovative practices, foster partnerships and reflect recognition and development strategies to reinforce the link between culture and sustainable development. This event responds to the Strategy of Sustainable Development that was adopted in 2011 by the Ministry of Culture within the framework of the National and Inter-ministerial Strategy of Sustainable Development 2010-2013. A State Senior Official (Haut fonctionnaire) for sustainable development was appointed in every ministry to encourage and follow up the implementation of this strategy.

Access for the Disabled

The Ministry of Culture favours better access to culture and to artistic practices, and to the devices of information and communication. A Culture-Disability committee was created in 2001 to be an authority on dialogue and consultation between the Ministries responsible for culture and for disabled people, the associations representing the disability community, disabled people themselves and the cultural and artistic sector. It must propose measures in all related domains, in particular access to cultural and artistic equipment, practice, training and occupations. In 2009, the European Heritage Days in France were organised on the theme "accessible heritage for all". In 2011 the prize "Heritage for all, heritage for each" was launched to distinguish patrimonial institutions that develop an excellent, global and long-lasting approach to generalised accessibility, whatever type of disability is concerned, physical or mental.

Chapter published: 18-05-2017

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