The Seychelles Tourism Board delegation along with the tourism trade partners launched its annual Marketing Strategy 2013 Meeting at Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort&Spa on December 11, 2012. This annual Marketing Strategy Meeting remains one of the most important events for the Seychelles tourism industry, where private sector players, airlines, and the Tourism Board marketing team all sit together to map out the island’s marketing plan for the coming year.
The annual meeting was this year chaired by Mr. Alain St.Ange, the Minister of Tourism and Culture, and the Tourism Board’s delegation comprised of the Chief Executive Officer, Mrs. Elsia Grandcourt; the directors and managers of the Seychelles Tourism Offices from the four corners of the world; and their local counterparts who were joined by the local tourism trade partners for a first day of work. The objective of the Marketing Strategy 2013 meeting is to meet with the tourism trade partners to discuss a united strategic approach to increase visitor arrivals, as well as to look at what can be done to increase the yield from the industry that remains the pillar of the country’s economy. The delegation also addressed various challenges facing the industry, and decided on the best way to tackle them.
The opening remarks by Minister St.Ange touched on various important aspects of Seychelles’ tourism industry when he said that it was important for the Tourism Board and the private sector partners to continuously assess the industry’s prevailing trends and the ongoing change in visitors’ needs.
“It is good that this meeting takes place once a year, because it gives us the chance to assess where we are, both in the Seychelles and in the marketplace. I think in the session that will be done today and tomorrow, we will assess what we’ve done, where we’ve failed, and what we have achieved. This will pave the way for a revised marketing plan for 2013. It is through this dialogue that we will be ready to face the challenges and difficulties of 2013 onwards. It is clear that 2013 will not be an easy year. Europe, it is clear from this morning’s news, is again about to face more economic troubles. Europe remains our main traditional target market, so this will create for us added pressure which could impact on the growth of our visitor arrival numbers,” said Minister St.Ange.
The Minister responsible for Tourism acknowledged that they needed to grow the visitor arrival numbers for next year and the year after before the arrival of new hotels presently on the drawing board as this could and would hurt the existing properties. “During the next two days, we need to discuss air access as we need to look at the work of Overseas Tourism Board Offices. Today, we know that we are succeeding on the visibility campaign for our islands, but we have to agree that we can do more to turn visibility into bookings, and during this marketing meeting, we need to discuss how we can do that. We all agree that the one-shoe-fits-all approach cannot be used in all our different tourism markets. What we are doing in London, cannot also be repeated in Paris, or Dubai, or even China; it has to be different, each one has to be tackled with a plan based on an adapted strategy,” added Minister St.Ange.
On the same note, Minister St.Ange touched on the biggest challenge for next year which remains how to make the tourism market grow. “We need to look at it; probably the biggest challenge of next year is to unite everyone to think Seychelles. The time for the Tourism Board to be working alone is gone. We need partners dedicated to work with the Tourism Board for the benefit of Seychelles,” said Minister St.Ange.
In line with the Minister’s opening address, the Seychelles Tourism Board CEO, Mrs. Elsia Grandcourt, spoke on the highlights of 2012. “What has been a challenging year was managed because of the invaluable support, assistance, and input from the private sector trade. Now we need you all to work with us to begin to navigate the way forward into 2013,” Mrs. Grandcourt said.
“2012 has been a year of positive growth despite the challenges we have faced because of the continuing economic woes of many in our traditional core markets. Despite the downturn in visitor arrival numbers from these countries, our national statistic shows that many of our markets continue to show growth, in particular, Germany, Russia, and the UAE. I think we are all very well aware that the cessation of direct flights by our national airline, Air Seychelles, into Europe has not made our task any easier, and it has definitely affected the numbers, especially from France. On the other hand, much needed airlift has been provided by Emirates, Qatar, Etihad, Kenya Airways, and newcomer Ethiopian Airlines. Together they have rendered Seychelles accessible in a way we have not seen before. Thanks to their support, the islands are now virtually one stop from anywhere on the planet,” said Mrs. Grandcourt.
Following the opening address by both, Minister St.Ange and the Tourism Board CEO, Elsia Grandcourt, the morning session was opened by the first presentation on the Tourism Board’s Global 2012 Quantitative Assessment presented by the Board’s Director for Europe, Mrs. Bernadette Willemin.
The afternoon session showcased with the presentations by Emirates representatives, Ms. Denise Rassool and Ms. Celine Payet which was followed by a second airline presentation by Mrs. Sabrina Agathine and Ms. Cindy Vidot, representing Air Seychelles.
The viewing of selected examples of destination DVDs and discussions on “Destination Collateral and Promotional Tool” was presented by Glynn Burridge.
Following these presentations, Minister St.Ange said a few words to close the day’s working session. Day two of the meeting will continue with more presentations and discussions, as well as group sessions. The outcome of the first two days of the 2013 Marketing Strategy proposal on Silhouette Island will be presented by the Seychelles Tourism Board Director for Europe, Mrs. Bernadette Willemin, at ICCS on December 14, 2012.
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