Our greeters’ networks in France use, as here in Le Havre, online meetings to strengthen our links, exchange on our walks, prepare for the post-Covid…
Containment and other health restrictions in 2020 have led to a drop in the number of walks carried out nationally. With one exception: Le Havre! Why is that? Some explanations.
Created in 2015, le Havre’s network of greeters currently has 17 volunteers. Initially, there were 10 of them and their initiative was immediately supported by the Tourist Board which created the site greeters-lehavre.fr. It continues to maintain and update the Facebook page through comments and photos from greeters. Benoît REMY, director of the tourist office Le Havre Etretat Normandie justifies his accompaniment: “The greeters offer the right cocktail between the search for experience and human relationship on the part of visitors and the passion of the volunteer inhabitants to make discover their city with pride.”
Although there is no official link between Le Havre greeters and OT, their relationship is regular, with the OT treating the greeters as full tourism partners. Communication to the media and the public is also concerted: on a regular basis, local media are informed of the initiatives of the greeters and national operations.

A well-oiled organization

In terms of organization, a greeter manages daily requests for walks, even 24 hours before the desired date, for a favorable response in more than 99% of cases: in 2020, only one miss out of 166 requests in 11 months (the night before). The greeters form a motivated and supportive team, hence taking over a Greet when the first assigned greeter becomes unavailable. In the city, greeters are welded by regular contacts and the organization of common lunches at least twice a year, in original places.
From various professional backgrounds, greeters exchange even during the confinements, an opportunity to deepen their knowledge of the territory via thematic mails much appreciated on history, anecdotes, curiosities. In addition, many greeters speak two or even three or four languages. A total of seven languages are available. The site’s guest book is fed, the site updated and each greeter is presented with his photo and passions. The feedback from greets confirms the importance of this presentation in the choice of visitors.

Original greets

Thanks to this fluidity and individual and collective commitment, the results of 2020 have reached and exceeded the record set in 2019, as it has every year since 2015. Containment has only slowed the momentum. The greeters are not only walking tourist visitors – the proximity of the Paris region and the growing interest in Le Havre as well as its mayor, former prime minister, played this year – but also newcomers, as part of the FARE service set up by the CCI Seine Estuaire to welcome new employees of the territory’s businesses, which led to 25 Greets in 2020. “A real plus for professionals and their families who integrate all the better thanks to the practical advice of greeters,” confirms Candice Courte-Fawaz, host of the FARE device. The ‘Havrais’ are also not the last to ask a greeter to rediscover their city.
A nice group dynamic and good practices in which it may be enough to draw to start 2021 with optimism!

Olivier, greeter from Le Havre, testifies.

Olivier greeter in Le Havre
The Greeters of Le Havre, a close-knit and very active community, have suffered, like all Greeters, a disaffection related to the Covid 19. The world of tourism and our friends, the professional guest guides, are even more impacted, because they have to live on their profession and their passion, where we, the greeters, only carry out a voluntary and unpaid mission of welcoming and cultural sharing.

In Le Havre, however, the Greeters business has remained somewhat, despite the crisis. Olivier (the man in the white cap above!) explains why.

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