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French team visits ski area

KILLINGTON - A delegation from the French Alps visited Vermont last week as part of a new partnership to cross-promote the Green Mountain State with Oisans, a popular skiing and biking destination in France.

Ten officials from the Oisans region visited Jay Peak, Stowe and Sugarbush for three days to explore similar attributes that connect Vermont with the French Alps. The officials, who include elected, tourism and ski resort officials, were invited to Vermont by Tourism and Marketing Commissioner Bruce Hyde.

"Vermont and the Oisans Region of the French Alps share many cultural, social and rural connections," said Hyde. "This partnership is a grassroots, cooperative effort to assimilate mutual tourism benefits between Vermont and the Oisans region of France.

"This partnership will help solidify Vermont's position as a destination comparable to the French Alps for world class skiing, incredible bicycling and high quality local products."

The delegation from France skied at each of the three resorts last week and met with Gov. Jim Douglas and Vermont ski and tourism officials to develop strategies for cross-promotion. Ideas include providing discounts in Oisans for Vermonters and offering special deals in Vermont for skiers and cyclists from the French Alps.

The leader of the French delegation, Christian Pichoud, chairman of the Department of Isere Tourism, noted the similarities between Vermont and the Oisans Region.

"The rural nature of Vermont is very much like home, as is the great skiing and beautiful countryside," he said. "Both destinations are also unique and offer something incredibly special to visitors."

Jean-Louis Leger Mattie, tourist office director for Alpe d'Heuz, a ski resort in the Alps, agreed.

"We were extremely pleased with our visit, and we look forward to working closely with Vermont to continue this partnership for many years to come," said Mattie, whose resort serves as one of the main routes of the Tour de France. "With all of the new snow Vermont received during our visit, the skiing was especially magnificent and the conditions absolutely superb."

Vermont has a separate cross-promotional agreement with the Maison de la France, also known as the French Government Tourism Office. That agreement was signed in October 2007 to cross-promote tourism in Vermont and France with a primary focus on the Lake Champlain Quadricentennial commemoration in 2009.

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