STB strategy focuses on more targeted digital marketing, markets with short-term yield |25 March 2021
The Seychelles Tourism Board (STB) yesterday unveiled its strategic marketing objectives for the year 2021, with a focus on the recovery of the tourism industry in the short to medium-term through more targeted and aggressive marketing campaigns, and more emphasis on offering visitors an improved and quality travel experience.
It was chief executive of the entity Sherin Francis who unveiled the strategy during the strategic marketing meeting held virtually via digital platform Zoom, and which was assisted virtually by partners of the entity.
In setting out the strategy for the reopening and recovery of the domestic tourism industry, CEO Francis noted the various changes in travel trends resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the significant changes within the operating environment, warranting drastic changes if Seychelles is to stand out from competitors such as Maldives, who have over the course of last year managed to keep attracting visitors to its shores.
“We have realised through research and market intelligence, and of course monitoring what is happening globally in terms of the evolution of the pandemic, that our usual traditions source markets will still have a bit of travel restriction for the coming months, and that we will not be able to rely on them in terms of visitors, at least for April, May or even June. Through our market intelligence capabilities, we tried to understand where we think the tourists will be coming from in the coming months, and this is where we have established a list of go-to markets, of the markets we think we will be relying on for the next few coming months.
“These include the likes of India, Israel, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, certain Eastern European countries, the likes of Romania or even Poland, Russia as well. We can see the travel searches being done that there is the interest to travel. We have done the necessary work with our partners. I have to acknowledge our partners as we need to ensure that we have air connectivity to Seychelles, and our strategy is really to try and communicate as much in those markets, together with our partners, tour operators, media partners, so we can able to capitalise on these markets,” Mrs Francis explained.
Given the current economic crisis and disruptions and uncertainty as to the global travel industry, it is imperative that Seychelles is able to carve a niche and grow market share, she said. As such, the main priorities of STB is to maintain or increase demand for travelling to Seychelles, to reduce the impact on suppliers by implementing strategies and policies that allow for activities geared towards the survival of local suppliers and service providers and to enable economic recovery, as well as to strive for increased digital exposure for all tourism businesses, by increasing the collective digital presence of Seychelles, and being more targeted in its approach.
According to CEO Francis, STB is for the present moment focusing on markets which will provide short-term to medium term returns as opposed to the main markets from which Seychelles was previously receiving visitors. Despite not expecting visitors from main markets including France and the United Kingdom on account of travel restrictions in such states, the projections for upcoming months look positive, she said, as there is a general sense of optimism that the global tourism industry will pick up this year as more countries progress on their vaccination campaigns, and based on projections that there will be enormous growth in economies during the fourth quarter of the year.
In a bid to reach as wide, but yet as targeted an audience as possible, the department will this year invest more on digital marketing campaigns, going further to offer visitors an experience based on nature, culture, heritage and diversity which most travellers are now seeking, especially after having been confined due to lockdowns and restrictions on movement.
“The reason, you will see that much of our content places a lot of emphasis on culture, the theme we have chosen is ‘Creole Rendezvous’. There will also be a lot of emphasis on green tourism, based on the fact that we are one of nature’s last sanctuaries in the world, on account that our research indicates that this is what potential visitors are seeking. After having been confined for long periods, many are seeking experiences. And what makes us different from other island destinations is our culture, our food, our people, and such.
“It is also in line with the strategy of the ministry, the government’s vision to really bring tourists into the community. We want persons in the communities to participate, for districts to participate. It is not just a kind of tourist that visits just for nice beaches and beautiful seas, but there are other things that will influence the visitor to spend, which means even if we do not welcome 300,000 visitors in 2021, but they will spend a little more, if there are more activities. We are not simply thinking of their expenditure, but also to promote more local products, so that foreign exchange is retained in the domestic economy,” Mrs Francis added.
Over January and February this year, STB has recorded over 84,000 social media engagements, 62,000 website sessions, and 2.3 million social media expressions. The department presently has 437,000 social media followers.
A total budget of R194 million has been appropriated to the entity, a significant proportion of which is dedicated to marketing.