PRIVATE SECTOR INPUT KEY TO CONTINUED SUCCESS IN MARKETING THE SEYCHELLES
(Posted 10th July 2017)
The Seychelles Tourism Board earlier this month sat down with trade partners to discuss and map out a new marketing strategy that will guide the country’s tourism industry in 2018.
The deliberations took place during the mid-year marketing meeting held at the Constance Ephelia Resort at Port Launay.
The meeting brought together board members, management and staff of the Seychelles Tourism Board including the managers and marketing executives working at the various overseas tourism offices, as well as representatives of the travel trade including airlines, hotels, travel agencies among others.
It was an opportunity for stakeholders to gain a better understanding of how the various tourism markets performed during the first six months of the year and the outlook for the next half of 2017.
Those present watched two videos showcasing the performance of the top markets and the market trends based on forward bookings, as well as highlights of the promotional and educational events organised by the overseas tourism offices and their trade partners.
Adopting a new format this year, the Seychelles Tourism Board had group sessions with the private sector representatives who were given the opportunity to move around and engage with the marketing executives and managers/directors of the overseas offices.
The open discussions served to highlight the strengths and weaknesses, what improvements are required, how to bring more private sector partners onboard when it comes to the overseas promotional events, among other issues.
It must be noted that the outlining of the STB’s annual strategy, previously done at year end, has been shifted to mid-year to enable better partnership and synergies when it comes to marketing the destination.
In his opening remarks, the Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine Maurice Loustau Lalanne said there is a necessity to ensure that the country obtains the best possible return for each rupee spent on the tourism industry.
‘Hotels especially the major brands based in Seychelles prepare their budgets at this time, it makes sense to have this conversation with you so as to maximize our efforts and ensure that we have the same strategy on all our markets‘ said the Minister.
Commenting on the performance of the tourism industry, he highlighted new records in the overall tourism numbers and cruise tourism, a slight increase in tourism expenditure and maintained bed occupancy recorded in 2016, along with the steady 22 percent increase recorded so far in 2017, compared to the same period last year. He congratulated the STB board, management staff and all local and overseas staff for their hard work, dedication and loyalty.
Going forward Mr Loustau Lalanne said it was important to focus on attracting the right visitors to Seychelles.
‘As we diversify our markets our product and improve on the existing services we offer let us always remember that we need to bring the right clientele and give them all a good time while on holiday but we need to do this much faster‘ he concluded.
The Chief Executive of the Seychelles Tourism Board also reiterated the need to find ways of collecting more revenue from each tourist who visit Seychelles. She highlighted the need to reduce the country’s reliance on room revenue and for other initiatives including experiential tourism to be explored.
Mrs Francis said Seychelles looks set to welcome between 350 to 360 thousand visitors in 2017 if the current rate of 18 to 20 percent is maintained, adding that the country could thus easily reach the 500 thousand visitor mark over the next two years if the trend continues.
Having said this, she said it was important for all stakeholders to ponder on the way forward including to consider whether this is the kind of tourism growth desired for the destination.
‘For STB our focus is not only to grow the numbers but to see that it grows equitably. While we grow the quality of visitors it is also important to ensure that the small tourism establishments, along with the boat charters, car hires, restaurants and attractions see themselves in the picture. We have given you a clean canvas and want you to paint the picture with us for 2018 we want no one to be left behind we want you all to be onboard and for this reason we want you to guide us in building our plans of action and the general direction for 2018 and even beyond’ said Mrs. Francis.
Both the trade partners and the STB staff have welcomed the new format which allowed for more one to one discussions, which is said to have provided for more exchange between the two sides.
Mrs Danielle Payet-Alis representing the Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association added her own voice when she said: ‘We have said during the whole day that we need to change our business model and it has provided the platform to start something new. In general I hope the message has been well received by those who take decisions‘.
For STB’s Director for Scandinavia, CIS & Eastern Europe, Karen Confait, the 2017 mid-year marketing meeting had a lot more participation from the trade including many hotels from Praslin and La Digue.
‘It was good to have more one on one time with them because it is important to get their feedback in terms of what we are doing, so for me this has been very productive‘ she said.
At the end of the meeting, a summary of the group discussions were presented. These recommendations will now be incorporated in a detailed plan that will be put forward as the STB’s strategy for 2018 at the end of the year.