Seychelles Tourism Board highlights 2020 | 31 December 2020
Staying true to its mandate to market the destination, the Seychelles Tourism Board, through its offices and representation worldwide, continuously strives to place Seychelles in the spotlight on both the local and international stage.
Not realising that the world was to be hit by a pandemic, the plethora of international appearances, mainly within the first two months of 2020, was the ideal opportunity for the Seychelles Tourism Board, (STB) team to perform its mandate of increasing the destination’s visibility and awareness of its offerings and set the tone for 2020 to achieve the target of another successful tourism year for Seychelles.
Following a very successful 2019, whereby Seychelles recorded a six percent increase in visitors’ arrival, it was on the same hopeful note that STB had predicted a 2-3 percent increase for 2020. However, with the onset of the pandemic, the destination recorded substantial decrease in visitors’ arrival numbers, by December 13, 2020, a total of 108,308 visitors had disembarked in Seychelles.
The international stage
Maintaining a strong presence at several important international tourism gatherings, the STB and its partners capitalised on these opportunities to increase visibility for the pristine paradise in key and potential markets.
In February 2020, the STB represented Seychelles in various events across the globe. The beauty of Seychelles dazzled the Italian public during the three-day event as the STB made an appearance at the Roma Travel Show, held in the Italian capital in the Palazzo deiCongressi. The event saw the collaboration of the STB and the Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association (SHTA) as ambassadors to the potential Italian visitors and trade partners including top travel agencies, travel specialists, tour operators, cruise lines present at the event.
Emphasising its marketing efforts, across the globe, STB partnered wit Réunion Travel expert, Anthurium Tourisme to promote Seychelles as an ideal destination for group travellers in an event which gathered around 70 invitees from prestigious companies such as Citroen, Banque Française Commerciale to meet with industry professionals including airline companies, tourism offices and hotels representatives from Réunion and Mauritius.
Keeping destination Seychelles in the limelight, STB was present at the reputed Dubai Bride Show in February conquering the hearts of brides-to-be. The popular Dubai event, which sees the participation of some 20,000 participants annually was the perfect opportunity to showcase the islands potential as a romantic wedding destination and the wide range of possibilities for couples and newly-weds.
The STB team made a magnificent appearance at the 62nd edition of Salon des Vacances (Belgium) where sunny Seychelles was highly represented. In the spirit of providing key attention to the small island destination, the Seychelles stand was rightly located at the entrance of the destination’s pavilion where the STB team met with visitors to inform them about the destination.
Retaining its presence at the various international tourism rendez-vous, the STB was present in India at the OTM - Outbound Travel Mart 2020 held at the Bombay Exhibition Centre in Mumbai in partnership with national airline Air Seychelles. The two prime stakeholders of the Seychelles tourism industry marked their presence among the Indian travel community, providing visibility to Seychelles as an ideal holiday destination with an easy access for the Indian market during the three-day trade fair. OTM, which is considered one of the major fairs in the Mumbai region, was attended by over 15,000 visitors, providing an excellent platform for the STB team present to the destination and showcase its multiple attributes to the Indian public.
As part of its marketing activities at the start of 2020, the STB thrilled its partners in three Brazilian cities during its annual dedicated Seychelles Roadshow by showcasing the beautiful exotic destination during a three-day intensive promotional activity. The STB team was present at Brasilia, Belo Horizonte and Sao Paulo where they met with Brazilian partners and conducted various informative activities about the destination.
The Israeli city of Tel Aviv also witnessed the beauties of Seychelles during the 26th International Mediterranean Tourism Market (IMTM). The Seychelles’ designated stand attracted participants and visitors with illustrations of the Islands’ exotic environment through images of the unique boulders, crystal clear waters, unsoiled beaches and lush vegetation.
Closer to home, Seychelles featured at the Spotlight Africa workshop in Lusaka, Zambia at the Radisson Blu Hotel. The STB team present at the event had the opportunity to meet with some 40 top senior executives of travel agencies and several major local tour operators, updating them with the destination’s latest development.
On its mission to charm North American visitors, the STB took part in the New York Times Travel Show from at the Jacob K Javits Convention Center in New York City. The travel show united over 175 countries including Seychelles under one roof where cultural and destination knowledge was passed on to over 35,000 attendees inlcuding tourism professionals and holidaymakers. Taking full advantage of media, travel trade and consumer presence during the exhibition, the STB team met with these key industry players of the North American Market. These included the press and airlines such as Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines, whose North American agents will be hosted in the Seychelles for a familiarisation trip in the coming months.
Affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns in several countries and international travel bans enforced after March 2020, the STB re-strategised its marketing efforts and shifted its efforts digitally for the next five months that followed.
Experience Seychelles campaign
As the world faced this unprecedented challenge, an organic campaign was launched to keep Seychelles top of mind of visitors during the Covid-19 period. The campaign was very successful, generating over 800,000 impressions over key social media platforms. The first phase of this online campaign entitled ‘Dream Now, Experience Seychelles Later’ was activated on April 7, 2020 across all Seychelles’ destination platforms . The campaign which comprises a series of messages including splendid photos of the beautiful Seychelles and its various features, was very well received on the various online platforms and has engaged wide audiences' interest towards the destination. This was followed by a strikingly emotional video released on April 15, 2020, which was shared over 300 times over Facebook in less than 24 hours.
The second phase of the campaign ‘Experience Seychelles; our home, your sanctuary’ was rolled out on September 22, 2020, during a press conference at the STB headquarters at Botanical House. Amidst times of uncertainty, the ‘Experience Seychelles; our home, your sanctuary’ campaign gave travellers worldwide hope and prospect to escape the harsh realities they were currently facing by calling on them to delve in the natural allure of this pristine paradise. The timing for the release of the campaign, was chosen purposely, focusing on a long-term visibility strategy to reboot travel to the destination. The campaign also actively engaged the local tourism trade to join STB in promoting the destination to potential visitors through content creation and using the #ExperienceSeychelles to share exclusive stories and experiences of visitors who have used their services.
Still ongoing, the ‘Experience Seychelles’ campaign has been extended to specific audiences through collaborations with famous platforms, such as the BBC, National Geographic and CNN International, increasing the visibility of the islands and will continue well into the new year.
In the midstold Chinese citizen and his family, turned the frightening experience into an exotic escape from the harsh realities of the world. The family even collaborated with STB’s China office and the Embassy of the Republic of Seychelles in Beijing for a livestreaming event in honour of the Dragon Boat Festival, celebrated on June 25, 2020. Mr Young had previously amazed the Chinese population with the stunning spots all over the tiny island of La Digue through social media posts. The collaboration gave the destination more visibility and showcased the caring nature of the Seychellois people.
Again, on the Asian market, captivating readers of the Asia Family Traveller magazine by its pristine beauty, Seychelles was featured in its September/October 2020 issue, placing the archipelago in the limelight on the Asian market. Magazine Editor, Carolynne Dear’s article entices readers to discover the destination’s alluring features, through mesmerising images and inspirational ideas for memorable family adventures. Addressing the destination’s reopening for tourism in much detail, the edition of the Asia Family Traveller magazine provided insight on the important safety measures taken by the local industry partners for the safety of both residents and visitors.
STB’sannual marketing meeting
Stepping into virtual mode due to the pandemic, the STB conducted its series of consultative meetings with its local partners and international offices as part of its first ever virtual marketing meeting. The meeting featured Tourism Minister Didier Dogley, tourism principal secretaryAnne Lafortune, STB chief executive Sherin Francis and team from the STB headquarters at Botanical House, STB representatives around the globe and also registered the participation of around 75 trade partners. The session was an ideal opportunity for Mrs Francis to provide a general overview of the situation in Seychelles at the time as the country was contemplating to welcome arrival of commercial flights in August 2020 and restart its tourism activities.
The sessions were primarily aimed at setting the foundation for the in-depth consultations as STB representatives and trade partners discussed how to jointly reposition their individual source markets. The series of virtual consultative meetings culminated with the STB strategy marketing meeting on Friday July 10, 2020.
The virtual scene
Collectively STB has organised and /or participated in 1,751 virtual events this year. Below are a few highlights.
Seychelles featured at the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) virtual through the participation of its CEO in a webinar hosted by Destination of the World News’ Editor-in-Chief Emily Baxter-Priest. The webinar available until June 5, 2020 on the ATM Virtual platforms was titled ‘The Changing Face of Luxury Family Travel’ aimed at providing insight into what travel and tourism would look like in a post Covid-19 world, with industry insight into the new landscape of luxury family travel.
Pushing Seychelles in the international limelight again, several key industry partners including STB also joined the virtual international conversation with travel specialist Juergen Steinmetz. The global virtual event, which is part of the rebuilding travel movement, provided an ideal platform for industry partners to discuss how the destination has handled the restart of tourism. Providing insights about the efforts made by the industry to implement the new safety guidelines endorsed by the department of health as part of the new operational procedures for the tourism industry. As part of the discussions the destination’s commitment towards safe tourism was further reiterated reflecting the safety guidelines put in place in Seychelles and the the efforts of the industry to rebuild the confidence of potential visitors.
The tropical islands paradise was also represented at this year’s virtual World Travel Summit, ‘Travel in the New Normal’ was the main focus organised by Travel-Awards.Org. Seychelles represented by the STB CEO Francis featured amongst key travel leaders who provided lead insights on the future of the travel industry.
Seychelles was also visible on the digital spheres and featured in the ‘Restore Travel Confidence’, series presenting industry leaders from Indian Ocean destinations such as Maldives, Mauritius and Sri Lanka. The discussion with renowned hospitality keynote speaker, marketing and communication expert Dolores Semeraro was published on Ms Semeraro’s website and featured in her upcoming podcast ‘truthbehindtravelpodcast’.
Increasing visibility for the destination, Seychelles appeared at the virtual Black Travel Summit conference titled, ‘Movement’ in October 2020. The two-day virtual event, which combined 26 speakers from around the globe, including content creators also featured STB representative for Africa and the Americas, David Germain representing the destination. Hosted by some of the most renowned entrepreneurs in the black travel community, the event presented an opportunity for the island destination to put forward its best features to attract travellers from this specific segment.
The Seychelles islands participated in the first virtual World Travel Market (WTM) after 40 years of being held in London. The agenda for this year’s WTM centred around restoring and developing business connections, growing one’s network, one’s brand and learning how to make one’s comeback. The event made recognition of the travel industry’s critical state intending to aid the recovery, rebuilding and shaping of it.
Seychelles further participated in the first 3D virtual wedding fair, The World of Weddings (TWOW). The three-day Indian wedding fair attracted close to 2,000 attendees including specifically targeted end consumers interested in luxury, lifestyle, and wedding essentials as well as travel agents, tour operators and wedding planners with the perfect clienteles.
Finally, Seychelles made an appearance at virtual ‘WOW! Hospitality Trends Summit 2020’ - Africa 2020. Joining an interesting discussion titled ‘Rebranding the Continent as a hot tourism destination’, led by renowned hospitality keynote speaker, Dolores Semeraro, STB CEO Sherin Francis conversed alongside her counterparts from the continent. During the discussions, Mrs Francis shared the island destination’s experience and strategy for the recovery of its tourism industry and its contribution to restart the promotion of tourism in the region.
STB continued its projects in its various markets to maintain and/or increase the visibility of the destination, two noticeable activities were in Zurich and Paris. In Zurich, Switzerland, STB partnered with one of largest tour operators, Manta Reisen, to showcase the pristine beauty of the islands. The first major campaign in the Swiss market for the year started September 1, 2020, with alluring depictions of the tropical paradise displayed on the trams in Zurich. With trams being one of the country's most used transports, the campaign is expected to have considerable reach and exposure. The campaign, which is to run for a year, will keep the Seychelles islands in the minds of visitors, sweeping them off their feet with images of the destination’s lush greenery, pearly white sands enveloped by mesmerising, turquoise waters.
In Paris, the STB launched an above the line advertising campaign as part of its communication plan for the autumn-winter promotional season. The campaign, launched in mid-October rolled for four weeks and involved the deployment of striking pictures of the destination as a means to entice the French market to visit the islands. The STB office in Paris has opted for a dynamic and earthly medium of communication, as it will allow the destination to reach out to a significant percentage of active workers in selective business firms with high-income brackets employees, areas in Paris and La Défense. Some hundred taxis, branded on both sides will be circulating in the capital city Paris and suburban areas. During the last two weeks of October and first two weeks of November, the taxis will be transporting the branded visuals of the destination with the tag line: “Seychelles, Our home your sanctuary”.
Involving local creatives
Increasing its effort on digital marketing as the cornerstone of its strategy to market and promote the Seychelles islands as the preferred tourist destination. Making sure that it has adequate and up-to-date content for all its marketing efforts be it digital, advertising, the STB launched a working collaboration programme for local creative content providers; including writers, photographers, videographers and social media influencers. To date STB has four suppliers on the programme all of whom STB is expected to make use of their skills and competencies to generate tailor-made content that will allow STB to improve its efforts to market and promote the destination.
In the spotlight
Making headlines in the Seychelles was renowned CNN International anchor Richard Quest, who visited the island paradise twice this year. Mr Quest was on mission to discover the essence of the archipelago and delve into the roots of the creole community. The Seychelles islands were featured on both his shows, namely ‘Quest for Business’ and ‘Quest World of Wonder’. During his visits, Mr Quest had the opportunity to interview some of the country’s most prominent figures and even secured an interview with the newly elected President of the Republic of Seychelles, Wavel Ramkalawan.
Additionally, STB collaborated with CNN for a digital campaign which will run alongside Mr Quest’s shows, giving the alluring destination extensive exposure and visibility worldwide.
Awards and eecognition
The Seychelles Islands remained in the global limelight, sweeping several prestigious awards throughout the year.
The Vallée de Mai’s powers of seduction became apparent this year as they brought home the 2020 Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Award for 2020, based on 2019 Traveller reviews. This latest recognition builds on past achievements as bestowed by TripAdvisor and other travel reviewing bodies.
With the Seychelles economy heavily reliant on tourism, the island nation recognises the need to efficiently manage its resources and the monumental significance of conservation. As a display of the nation’s constant efforts towards a greener, more sustainable future, the Seychelles Islands once again swept up the World Travel Award’s ‘Indian Ocean’s Leading Sustainable Tourism Destination’ for the second year in a row.
Additionally, the archipelago’s mesmerising beauty received global recognition when the destination was given the ‘World’s Most Romantic Destination for 2020’ award in the Grand Final of the World Travel Award. Having built a strong reputation for being one of the most romantic pristine spots in the world, being crowned with a world-leading title comes as an immense honour to the exotic paradise. Relatively untouched and religiously preserved, the islands serve as the perfect getaway for couples longing to escape the hassle of mundane life and create a deeper connection with one another.
The road to recovery
Although the industry being under attack by the pandemic the STB and partners have maximised on the various new opportunities to maintain the destination’s presence in the global tourism scene.
By remaining visible to our audiences digitally; maintaining strong communications through virtual means and by participating at the virtual events, Seychelles was provided with an ideal opportunity to remain visible and in contact with its international trade, airline and media partners to enable the destination to reposition itself as a safe holiday destination.
While STB maintains that the industry is a people business and the relationship and networking remain key and top priority, virtual events and meetings will remain a recurring trend for 2021 until travel restrictions are lifted and travel confidence resurge.
Contributed by STB