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Italian travel trade representatives highlight challenges and opportunities in round table talks with Seychelles Tourism Board CEO

October 23, 2017 Destination Seychelles No Comments Email Email

The Chief Executive of the Seychelles Tourism Board, Sherin Francis has had a first-hand experience hearing of the challenges faced by Italian tour operators, hoteliers and travel agents, when selling the island destination, as well as opportunities they believe exist for Seychelles to further grow the market.

Mrs Francis had discussions with Italian trade partners in the cities of Rome and Milan on October 5 and 6, 2017. She was accompanied at the meetings by the Seychelles Tourism Board (STB) Director in Italy Monette Rose. STB adopted the round-robin format for the discussions, which recorded an exceptional turnout in both cities.

Italy is Seychelles’ third main market in Europe and fourth leading market overall in terms of visitor numbers. Italy has sent 19,702 visitors to the island nation so far in 2017, which is 5 percent above the 2016 figures for the same period.

In her opening remarks, Mrs Francis noted that while Italy is performing well, especially when it comes to the romance and honeymoon, the travel trade has observed that the Italian visitors to Seychelles are spending less. This led the Italian travel trade to raise a number of concern, which they believe are hindering a much better performance.

Inconsistency in standard and services as well as prices especially with regards to hotels, lack of direct flights, the need for more standard grouping of accommodation that would allow them to better sell Seychelles to the middle-income segment, which is the group of Italian travellers more interested in visiting Seychelles, were among issues mentioned.

As most Italians are set on choosing to holiday on Praslin, the Seychelles’ second most populated island, the tour operators, hoteliers and travel agents were also keen on boosting their awareness of products available on Mahé, so they can entice more Italians to visit the main island. They also were very keen to push the family segment with most of them commenting that it is a segment that will allow them to further grow the visitor numbers to Seychelles.

At the end of her working trip in Rome and Milan, Mrs Francis said: “The trade partners help a lot in making the destination visible and it is important that I am able to occasionally make time to not only listen and discuss to their concerns, but also listen to potential opportunities that would help us grow.”

“All issues raised will be channelled to the respective stakeholders. Some of them are directly linked to the tourism department, but others are cross-sectorial and will be discussed with the relevant ministries,” she added.

Mrs Francis said the round robin format is a strategy STB is adopting when working with trade partners to identify issues affecting their ability to sell the destination better and in formulating strategies as they chart the way forward.

She noted that she will be looking for opportunities to have similar discussions with trade partners across the other markets while attending events organised by the respective STB offices.

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