An audience of 80 people attended the official launch of Accueil Vélo at the heart of the Ministry of Economy and Finance in Bercy, Paris in May 2012.
Accueil Vélo brings together under one brand numerous smaller cyclist friendly schemes that had operated at a regional or local level in France. Tourists can use this brand to easily identify accommodation providers that offer amenities and services tailored to cyclists. The same brand can also be used for tourism offices, bicycle rental shops and tourist sites. The scheme is run by France Vélo Tourisme and sponsored by DGCIS.
It is hoped that it will further encourage the development of the cycling tourism industry in France. Of course, France is already a popular cycling tourism destination – France Vélo Tourisme estimate that more than a million tourists visit France to cycle each year and cycling tourism generates almost two billion euros annually supporting 16,000 jobs, half of which are in the accommodation and restaurant sectors. They also estimate that every kilometer of cycle route developed produces 60,000 to 100,000 euros of tourism benefits per year.
Impressive stuff and more is on the way with the launch of France Vélo Tourisme’s webportal at the end of June.
The cyclist friendly services concept has proved very successful elsewhere in Europe, including Bett+Bike in Germany, Fietsers Welkom! in the Netherlands and Bed&Bike in Luxembourg. Last year, a study was undertaken as part of the EuroVelo Central Coordination Project, which researched the existing schemes across the continent. One of its conclusions was that there was some potential for establishing a European Cyclists Friendly Services Network. So, it’s obviously an idea whose time has arrived!