Seychelles, famed for its powder-white beaches and clear turquoise waters, is seen as a popular destination among travellers from across the globe and while the island destination remains a popular vacation spot for Europeans, the Seychelles Tourism Board (STB) is constantly looking for opportunities to develop the potential of other source markets.
The 2017 Magical Kenya Travel Expo (MKTE) provided the perfect opportunity for the island destination to raise its profile not only among Kenyan visitors but also among visitors from other countries in the region.
The seventh edition of the annual event was held in Nairobi from October 3 to 5, 2017. The Seychelles’ stand, which stood strategically near the main hall of the Kenyatta International Convention Center and opposite that of the Kenyan Tourism Board, did not fail to attract interest from prospective partners.
The stand was manned by STB’s Senior Marketing Executive Amia Jovanovic-Desir and Assistant Officer in the Print and Production section, Terrence Quatre, who provided detailed information to visitors with the support of the Seychelles Tourism Ambassador in Kenya, Popsy Getonga.
Initiated by the Kenyan Tourism Board in 2011, MKTE, has since become the fastest growing tourism event in the region. It provides a platform for exhibitors ranging from regional tourism authorities, airlines, tour operators, hoteliers among others, to network with travel trade professionals not only from the region but also from their key source markets across the globe.
Its main aim is to raise the profile of the tourist destinations particularly in the east African region so as to generate more interest among visitors, enticing them to choose from a wide range of products, from a safari to a beach holiday.
Mrs Jovanovic-Desir said Seychelles’ presence at such exhibitions provides an added advantage in consolidating the country’s image as a tourist destination of choice.
The Seychelles stand was visited by a mixture of people, both those who were already well aware of the destination’s products and those thirsting to know more about what the islands have to offer.
Sylvester Kennedy Silla, a Kenyan national who recently realised his dream holiday in Seychelles said he will not fail to recommend the destination to his friends.
“The friendliness and charming traits of most of the people of this small island nation have marked me and this is why I have enjoyed my two weeks’ holiday in this beautiful and unique paradise,” he said.
Representatives of tour operators, travel agents, booking companies who visited the Seychelles stand showed interest in exploring various products including the fishing segment, island hopping among others. Agents from Nigeria were particularly keen on capturing the honeymoon and destination segment.
“The Nigerian agents strongly conveyed that there is a rise in demand from their clients who are ready to pay for their honeymoon and that Seychelles is among destinations that are highly recommended,” said Mrs Jovanovic-Desir.
“Many agents conveyed to us that their clients are bored with only the safari and that they need to be creative in their approach to sell packages that would generate sales and satisfy their clients,” she added.
While the MKTE brought in prospective trade partners from Europe, America, and other regions, STB took the opportunity to build up interest in the destination among visitors from Kenya and other countries on the African continent.
One key message that was relayed by the STB team at this year’s MKTE is that Seychelles is not an exclusive destination targeting only the high-end segment but is rather a destination that caters to the needs and taste of travellers from all market segments, from the celebrity to budget-friendly holidaymakers.
Mrs Jovanovic-Desir said: “It was apparent that they do not have sufficient knowledge of the destination and that a lot needs to be done to increase Seychelles’ visibility and create the proper awareness of the destination and entice more visitors from the region and the African continent as a whole to explore the beauty of our islands.”
“There is hope however that with more interactions and frequent presence on the market we will surely attain our objective of welcoming added visitors from the African continent to our shores,” she added.
The 2017 MKTE which was officially opened by the Kenyan Tourism Minister Najib Balala.
Mr Balala gladly accepted an invitation to visit the island nation’s stand where he had the opportunity to hold one of the most sought-after souvenirs of Seychelles — a coco-de-mer — the largest nut in the world, which is endemic to Seychelles and grows naturally on the island of Praslin.
The 2017 Magical Kenya Travel Expo, which also attracted media representatives from the region and across the globe, saw the participation of more than 180 exhibitors combined with buyers from countries across Europe, Asia, America, Australia, the Middle East, and the African continent itself.
Source: Alain St. Ange