The example of France proves that the complex system of horizontal connections in tourism can play the role of the "nervous system" of the industry. Associations here participate in public-private partnerships, even act as market regulators, and help intra-industry communication, being "communication hubs" for almost all segments of the travel industry.
Various associations and trade unions play a huge role in the business life of France in general, and in tourism in particular. As of 2016, about 1.3 million (!) Associations are active in France, more than 70 thousand new associations are created annually, most of which are in the field of sports, tourism and recreation, and culture.
Note that, according to French law, economics distinguishes between “associations” and “associations for economic interests” (groupementd'Intérêteconomique, GIE). The main difference between them is that the association can only be a non-profit association, which, however, does not mean at all that the association cannot conduct economic or commercial activities, just the profit from this activity must be reinvested in the association and cannot be distributed among its members. ...
If a professional association plans to receive and distribute financial benefits from joint activities among its members, it becomes an "association for economic interests."
The most striking example of an association for economic interests in the tourism industry is, first of all, AtoutFrance - the French Tourism Development Agency (L'agence de développement touristique de la France), which we have already written about, talking about state regulation tourism in France.
Structurally, Atout France is just an association for economic interests and represents the interests of its 1200 members - public and private companies in the French tourism industry. The agency is not an “agency”, but is intended to ensure partnerships between the state, its administration and local authorities on the one hand, and tourism professionals, French and foreign tourism organizations and enterprises on the other.
The tasks of this professional association (in Russian terminology) also include the classification of tourist accommodation facilities (hotels, hostels, apartments, campgrounds), maintaining the state register of tour operators (all travel companies are required by law to be registered with Atout France and have a financial guarantee).
The largest purely "business" industry associations in French tourism are two employers' unions, one economic interest and one association.
This is Les Entreprises du Voyage or EDV - an association of employers - professionals in the travel industry. From the moment of its foundation in 1945 until 2016, this professional association was called SNAV - National Union of Travel Agencies (Syndicat National des Agences de Voyages) and was the most representative trade union of travel agencies (both operator and distribution), uniting 60% of French travel agencies.
The Union also dealt with consumer protection issues: in 1962, it created the Association professionnelle de solidarité du tourisme - APST. Its role is special. This association of economic interests provides a financial guarantee to tour operators in order to protect their clients in the event of financial problems of the company. More than 3000 companies are members of the Association, to which it provides a financial guarantee - within the framework of registration with Atout France.
On April 27, 2016 SNAV changed its Articles of Association and changed its name to EDV. The new Statute gives a special role to "travel in France", both foreign and French tourists, and also recognizes the specificity of agencies specializing in business tourism (TMC). (Travel Management Companies) - travel companies.