Seychelles is forging ahead with its growth ambitions to capture a bigger market from Africa as it maximised all opportunities from the recent Indaba tourism trade fair in Durban, South Africa, to increase its visibility on that continent.
Indaba, which brings the African tourism trade together every year in Durban, was held from May 9 to 12.
Mr Alain St Ange, the Seychelles director of tourism marketing, said the South African market has grown over the last years with 2007 being a record year and bringing a total of 8,219 visitors to Seychelles. The Seychelles Tourist Office has been directing a lot of efforts towards consumers in a bid to break the perception in that market that the destination caters only for the top end of the market.
Currently, the market occupies fifth place as the best performing market for Seychelles behind France, Italy, Germany and UK and Eire.
The new Affordable Seychelles campaign, launched at the beginning of the year by the Seychelles Tourism Board (STB), has therefore applied very well to the South African market as the Indaba platform has allowed more awareness and promotion of the islands.
Mr David Germain, Seychelles regional manager for South Africa has said the market has major potential to produce better results as Seychelles possesses what the South African clientele are looking for.
“The South Africans love exploring and discovering and this is where we stand out against all our competitors because we have so much to offer in terms of activities and the diversity of our many islands. Fly-fishing for example, appeals very much to the South Africans and this is one niche market that we are pushing forward,” he said.
The romance and honeymoon niche also works well for that market, especially since the twice weekly flights out of Johannesburg to Seychelles leave during the weekend. The newly-weds can therefore get married on Friday or Saturday and fly out the next day for their honeymoon in Seychelles where they can stay for one whole week.
“Consumers need to know that we cannot be compared to our competitors. We have so many islands that they can visit, spend time there, experience something new and at the end feel like they’ve visited several destinations in one destination,” Mr Germain explained.
He added that South Africa and many other African countries in the region have the right consumer segments which are most appropriate for specific products in Seychelles, notably those establishments featuring in the “Seychelles Secrets” portfolio.
He also highlighted the fact that there has been an increase in the number of press who want to feature Seychelles. From South Africa to South America, the demand is growing and the STB delegation at Indaba met with over 20 representatives of press, travel magazines and TV programmes.
“We need to capitalise on the momentum out there and get Seychelles on every TV, magazine and newspaper that are willingly coming forward to feature us,” said Mrs Lena Hoareau of the new STB’s News Bureau.
“It is free publicity opportunities that should be captured and taken advantage of. We would continuously feed them with news on Seychelles and get them to feature the islands as much as possible so as to increase awareness as well as update the world on our destination”.
In terms of marketing , Ms Blaisila Hoffman from the STB head office has also confirmed that their move to target the consumers directly is paying off on the South African market and that the growing potential from South America, notably Argentina and Brazil, should not go unchecked.
“STB will be working closely with the key South American tour operators to reintroduce the Seychelles destination on that market” she said, adding: “We will soon be attending the FIT trade fair in Argentina to ensure that we create visibility of Seychelles on that market in order to win a fair share of that top market segment as a two-centre destination with South Africa”.
Members of the Seychelles trade at Indaba have also described the fair as the platform where they can negotiate and secure business with new partners, as the interest in Seychelles keeps growing in that part of the world. They have fully supported STB with its Affordable Seychelles campaign, echoing the same message in their many meetings.
STB also organised a Seychelles evening for all its supporting tour operators at the Ushaka Marine World Restaurant, to thank them for their continued support in featuring and selling Seychelles.
Besides the STB delegation which also included Ms. Sharon Rosalie, other companies represented at Indaba were Air Seychelles, Mason’s Travel, Select Seychelles, Creole Travel Services, Banyan Tree Resorts, Berjaya Beau Vallon Bay Beach Resort, Le Meridien group, Eden Island and Desroches Island Resort.