Thursday the Tourist Office of Saint Emilion held its general assembly and celebrated its 80 anniversary. Lots of people attended: the Sous-Prefet, MP, wine trade officials, mayors and members, present to be part of this important general assembly, but - and this is my personal opinion - also because of an issue brought up to our attention: the filing of the trademark(s) “Saint Emilion” by the Tourist Office!?
I believe that the organization most concerned by this issue, as much in personnel than in financial is, of course, our wine trade union as well as its partners such as the INAO, the town hall and the tourist office.
The Tourist Office, which has revenues of less than 1.5 million euros and 15,000 euros in profit, would not be able to support the financial costs of such a task. Otherwise known as Visitor Center, it works well and fulfills its task brilliantly considering the millions of tourists visiting Saint Emilion, but, I need to point out that the brand Saint Emilion, the AOC, represent millions of bottles, thousands of jobs, millions in revenues, so we must protect our brand. I am not sure that this mission is the responsibility of the Tourist Office, even if it has a role to play.
As Francois D. pointed out, I also can understand that the Office of Tourism Trade sells souvenirs, postcards, aprons, salt, etc. I'm not going to list all the items, in other words that the tourist office makes a profit. It makes tourists who buy happy as well as manufacturers who sell. But again, it is important to avoid competing with local businesses offering the same products! Local commerce can’t compete with such organization receiving subsidies, privileges and again, supposed to protect our interest.
The Tourist Office should continue to help local industries otherwise it is going against its members, missions, and who knows what more? Should it setup a wine bar, a brasserie, a restaurant, a hotel as well? Not sure that Josette, the Treasurer, would approve! It is difficult to be dynamic, innovative and useful without being careful when it has the status of a tourist office which attracts Sous-Prefet, MPs and representatives of various communities to its general assembly.
Otherwise, they’ve been doing a great job promoting Châteaux, heritage sites, local businesses, restaurants, hotels and the Jurisdiction of Saint Emilion which again should have set boundaries. But that’s another matter.