BERLIN, Germany – On Wednesday, the ITB trade and consumer fair has once again opened its gates at the Berlin fairgrounds. With more than 10,000 exhibitors from 180 countries on 160,000 m² of exhibition space and over 170,000 visitors (2012), it is the world’s largest travel and tourism fair. With a delegation of 40, representing 25 companies, plus the heads of the Seychelles Tourism Board (STB), the Seychelles are once again showing a strong presence on a impressive 180-square-meter stand. The fair will run for 5 days until Sunday, with 3 days for trade visitors only, and the weekend days being open for the public.
The official Seychelles delegation is headed by Ms. Elsia Grandcourt, Chief Executive Officer of the Seychelles Tourism Board; Ms. Bernadette Willemin, the Paris-based Director of Europe; and Ms. Edith Hunzinger, Regional Manager for Germany, Switzerland, and Austria at the Frankfurt office.
“It is important that we keep the momentum up that the German-speaking market has gained over the past few years,” commented Ms. Grandcourt upon her arrival in Berlin. “This source market has never been more important to the Seychelles.”
The number of visitors from Germany, Switzerland, and Austria has virtually doubled over the past decade, and with 41,516 tourists arriving from these 3 countries in 2012, nearly one out of 5 Seychelles visitors speaks German as his or her native language. Ms. Hunzinger is confident that the market will remain strong: “It will be tough to top record-breaking visitor figures and increases year after year, but in spite of the crisis, German consumers have remained optimistic and are spending their money on luxury goods, which includes a vacation in the Seychelles.”
In 2012, Germany ranked 2nd (behind France) in visitor arrivals in the Seychelles, and January 2013, Germany even managed to top France to take the lead as the #1 source country for Seychelles tourism. At the recent 6th Seychelles Eco-Friendly Marathon, more runners from Germany competed in the marathon and half-marathon races than athletes from any other country. Germans also showed a strong presence in this year’s Carnaval International de Victoria, through an extraordinary participation of 36 travel agencies combining an educational trip (with tour operator “DERTOUR”) and the Seychelles Tourism Board. The Carnival Association of Dusseldorf has already confirmed their participation for 2014.
But ITB is not only a key trade show for Germany, as the German capital is strategically located in the heart of central Europe, at the crossroads of Northern and Southern, Western, and an increasingly important Eastern Europe. With Berlin being situated only a few kilometers from the Polish border, ever since the fall of the Iron Curtain, ITB Berlin has become an important venue for the Eastern European travel trade as well, which, in 2012, accounted for another 10% of Seychelles visitors.
Air Berlin, Germany’s second-largest airline, recently signed a codeshare agreement with Air Seychelles, thus increasing the frequency of weekly flights between Germany and the Seychelles even further. German, Swiss, and Austrian travelers now have multiple options every day to fly from major European gateway cities — such as Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich, Vienna, or Zurich — to Mahe, often on a single ticket and without re-checking their luggage. The Seychelles travel industry is building on this convenient access and will try to cater further to the needs of this important source market by maintaining old and establishing new relations with the European trade and media in Berlin.
Elsia Grandcourt said that the first trade day gave signs of very productive meetings, with Ethiopian Airlines confirming a first anniversary celebration with a media trip of 6 journalists and educational trips for travel agencies, as well as overall satisfaction from trade partners on the stand after the first day of the fair.
Seychellit on Kansainvälinen matkailukumppaneiden koalitio (ICTP).