After this year's successful Routes Europe event in Budapest, Hungary - the largest regional route development event ever with 1,100 delegates - Budapest Airport officially handed over to Marseille Provence Airport (MRS), the host of the 2014 event.
Located on the Mediterranean coast in south-east France, MRS is ideally situated at the intersection of air, rail and road networks. It is the gateway to the south of France, to Marseille and to the famous Provence region.
In 2012, MRS registered the strongest growth among major French airports, attracting 8.3 million passengers - an increase of almost a million in just one year - and securing fourth place in a list of the 80 biggest airports in Europe.
MRS has strived to expand its air services and now offers 131 direct scheduled routes, compared with 51 in 2006. In 2013, the airport is connected to 30 countries, with 28 scheduled carriers flying into 100 different airports worldwide. Travellers from Marseille and the Provence region are taking advantage of this widening network and, at the same time, increasing the number of tourists visiting the region.
Speaking at the eighth Routes Europe event in Budapest from 12-14 May, Pierre Régis, managing director of MRS, commented: "Marseille Provence Airport is proud and honoured to host the Routes Europe event in 2014 and to share all of the new opportunities that are being unveiled at this very moment, as the 'new Marseille' is also this year's European Capital of Culture."
The Marseille-Provence region was founded over 2,600 years ago and Marseille is the second-largest city in France after Paris, as well as the regional capital of southern France. Combining Mediterranean mildness with Provence's enviable quality of life, the area attracts ten million tourists every year. World-class locations such as Provence, St Tropez, Avignon, Aix-en-Provence and Arles, as well as ski resorts in the southern Alps, are all within easy reach.
The new Marseille
The focus of some of the biggest urban investments and building projects in Europe over the past few years, the 'new Marseille' boasts new hotels, luxury shopping centres and museums, and was ranked second in a recent New York Times list of 'Places to Go This Year'.
During Routes Europe 2014, delegates can discover new hotels - including the brand new Intercontinental, created out of a historical building on the Old Port - and will be able to walk from most of them to the brand new congress centre, the Palais du Pharo.
"After this year's successful event in Budapest, we are eagerly awaiting next year's Routes Europe in Marseille," said Nigel Mayes, VP commercial - Routes, UBM Live. "France is one of the biggest aviation markets in Europe and is the most popular leisure destination in the world. Moreover, the airport has been doing excellent work to accommodate full-service and low-cost carriers.
These factors lead us to believe we can increase airline and airport attendance even beyond this year's figures."
For more information on Routes Europe 2014 hosted by Marseille Provence Airport, visit www.routesonline.com/events/165/routes-europe-2014.