Guillaume Rose, Monaco’s Director of Tourism, discusses with Hello Monaco the recent rise in tourists and what ‘Monte-Carlo’ really means.
Olga Taran: How many tourists visited Monaco this summer season compared to previous years? Any changes or new patterns?
Guillaume Rose: We could see that the season worked very well in Monaco, much better than some other years, including last year which was difficult because of the attacks in Nice. Of course, there have been pros and cons about coming to the Cote d’Azur, especially to Monaco, but in the end, we can say that the season went very well. First, we had an increase of nearly 5% in August and we have been stable compared to July last year, so the summer (June, July, and August) has been more or less profitable. We could see that English people and Russian people especially came back in numbers to Monaco, Italian people came too, and we maintained the number of French people of course. What is very interesting is the progression of Russian tourists of which we can see an increase of 15% during the whole year so far.
Olga Taran: It is impressive! But talking about countries, who is leading in terms of visitors?
Guillaume Rose: Leading visitors year-round are always: French, English, Italian, Russian, American. They are, in general, the top 5. But when it comes to the summer season, it’s Russian, English, French and Italian.
Olga Taran: How many Tourism Representative Offices does Monaco have in the world? Which ones perform the best?
Guillaume Rose: We’ve got 10 Representative Offices in the world. The one in New York works extremely well with a lot of awards gained every year for sending the best business tourism to Monaco. They are specialized in business tourism which is the same for England.
We have a Russian office in Moscow, which is very specialized in leisure tourism and every year, we organize at least 5-6 events in Moscow, St. Petersburg and the rest of Russia, to attract people from Russia and tell them that we love them because they are very faithful customers who come back every time.
One of our other offices which is very remarkable is in San Paulo, Brazil, which works very well at promoting environmentally green values, which is very important to us. Each office sells a different part of Monaco. As I said, London and New York sell the possibility of organizing business tourism. San Paulo is more dedicated to green tourism and Moscow is more dedicated to glamour tourism. Whereas Asia is a mix of all of them.
Olga Taran: In August, you got the Emerging Destination of the year award in China.
Guillaume Rose: Business tourism has always been one of our priorities.We have gained this award and are very happy about it. Our office in Beijing received the award because we are now turning not only toward leisure tourism in China but also toward business tourism. Obtaining this award is extremely flattering for the work of our office.
Olga Taran: Last year, you participated in organizing some private events, for example, an Indian wedding in Monaco. Do you plan to continue attracting this type of events?
Guillaume Rose: Mainly we are planning to continue to work in the Indian market, but also in the Japanese one, for example. We aim at organizing big weddings in Monaco. It’s also the case in Brazil, and it could be the case in China, we are discussing it. A lot of people are interested in getting married in Monaco, or falling in love in Monaco. In the American market, we also aim towards the LGBT market, gay men and women who got married in America and who come to celebrate their honeymoons in Monaco, for example. It’s the perfect place for a honeymoon.
Olga Taran: This year, Monaco participated in Astana Expo and the Pavilion was just amazing, are you happy with the results?
Guillaume Rose:We are very happy with the results because the pavilion was one of the top five most visited pavilions, which is absolutely incredible considering the size of our country. This left a very good impression on everybody in Astana and we think that our ties with Kazakhstan are now closer than ever after that pavilion.
Olga Taran: What is the question tourists ask most often about Monaco? Are there any funny questions people ask, because Monaco has a lot of stereotypes?
Guillaume Rose: Of course (laughs). For example, a very funny thing some people asked us was if the Prince’s family lived in the Grimaldi Forum. So that’s the kind of question we’re asked at least once a month. But most of the time, the most frequently asked question is: ‘I’m here for the day, what can I do in one day in Monte-Carlo?’ In that case, the Office du Tourism gives them advertisements for the day, knowing that we can’t promote one place more than the other, but we try to know the specialties of all the museums. So if the people want to go to the Oceanographic Museum or the New National Museum of Monaco or the exhibition at the Grimaldi Forum, then we can direct them.
Olga Taran: Do people ask, for example, where is Monte-Carlo and where is Monaco?
Guillaume Rose: Of course, and in that case we explain to them that Monte-Carlo is both a historical denomination of the place and a district. And we explain to them that the district was created by Charles III in 1866 and as has recently celebrated its anniversary.
Olga Taran: Even my friends that come to visit ask me how I differentiate Monaco and Monte-Carlo, they think Monte-Carlo is the capital of Monaco…
Guillaume Rose: Of course, it’s normal, a lot of people ask me that and very few people know why it has been called Monte-Carlo. In fact, it has been called Monte-Carlo because we opened the casino. The Principality has always been protected by the Pope, but the pope didn’t want us to say Monaco has a casino, so they wanted a name that is not Monaco. To find this new name wasn’t so difficult because the place is a ‘Mount’ and the prince at the time was Charles. So, in French, ‘Mont Charles’ would have been perfect. But the customers were English and Russian, and English people and Russians can’t pronounce ‘Mont Charles’ perfectly. So the point was to find something that everybody could pronounce, and the people at the time thought ‘Ok, opera is in fashion, operas are mostly sang in Italian, ‘Monte-Carlo’ in Italian is absolutely perfect and everybody can pronounce it.’
Therefore, Monte-Carlo was invented as a result of a denomination for the “funny place” in Monaco at that time. It’s the second most known marketing name in history, after Coca-Cola.
You also have to know that Monegasque people are not banned from entering the casino, only the Prince’s family can’t enter the casino in general. Monegasque people can’t gamble, but they can enter the casino, that’s the difference.