Reunion Island Tourism presents a look back at 2015 and a look ahead for 2016

Reunion Island Tourism presents a look back at 2015 and a look ahead for 2016
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Published on 04 December 2015

Reunion Island Tourism (IRT) earlier this week held a working meeting to provide the island's tourism sector with proposals for activities planned for 2016. At the same time, the IRT also presented an evaluation of activities conducted in 2015.

Among the 17 local professionals present, the majority of the tourism industry segments represented included incoming agencies, providers of leisure activities, and accommodation and transport providers.

In a move to diversify clientele and address seasonal imbalances of tourist arrivals, Reunion Island Tourism conducted targeted promotional activities in priority markets (France and German-speaking countries) and secondary high-potential markets (China, India, South Africa, and Europe) that have borne fruit.

The IRT team began the meeting by presenting the data collected that shows an overall positive balance for the year, mainly showing a 10% growth in tourist arrivals from all markets.

While arrivals from German-speaking countries rose by a massive 19%, the number of tourists from the countries of the Indian Ocean region (India, China, and South Africa) made an even bigger jump of 32%. Also on the rise were tourist arrivals from France (+ 2.3%) and other unspecified countries (+ 22%).

These rising numbers are attributed to the various educational tours and press trips organized by Reunion Island Tourism. These discovery tours allowed participants to live a real experience of travel and discovery while learning more about the destination.

The IRT put emphasis particularly on educational tours to enhance the reputation of Reunion Island with product managers, commercial tour operators, and works councils, among others. Through the Challenge of Experts, the IRT also targeted travel agents who came to the island to get hands-on experience.

In 2015, Reunion Island Tourism funded 49 educational tours including 12 multi-tour operators and 37 mixed media and agency personnel. A total of 561 travel agents were trained about destination Reunion Island. The French market remains one of the priority markets, and subsequently the IRT has organized 22 educational tours for the French network marketing sector, and has trained 350 travel agents from there alone.

High-value press trips also helped to strengthen the reputation of Reunion Island with the hosting of journalists and influential travel bloggers drawn from key producer markets.

The IRT received throughout 2015, journalists from target markets like France and Europe as well as countries in the Indian Ocean region (China, India, and South Africa).

Press trips focused mostly on the subject of generic information about the island, and were all related to the volcanic eruptions this year. The images of these eruptions distributed to TV news in France and the rest of the world through global news channels have made it possible to reach over 10 million extra viewers.

Moreover, the discovery of the MH370 wing segment attracted major international media to the island. The IRT strongly mobilized resources at the time to provide them with logistical support and put them in contact with local service providers. Among the media which came to Reunion Island for this breaking news story were such heavy-weights as BBC Global, Xinhua News Agency, France 2, TF1, Al Jazeera, and CBS News.

In 2015, the IRT funded a total of 62 press trips and hosted 178 journalists working for general or specialist media. In terms of quantitative data, this represents 179 million viewers (cumulative audience) and more than 39 million potential readers.

At the meeting with the tourism professionals, the chairman of the IRT also explained the activities already approved by the Bureau for the period of January to April 2016.

In France, Reunion Island Tourism will continue its efforts to publicize its product and the island with participation in key trade fairs and travel salons, along with the organization of educational tours and press trips.

Actions on German-speaking markets will be strengthened through partnerships with selected tour operators and by being present at salons and through new marketing campaigns.

The IRT will also continue promoting the destination on the Indian market, in China, and in South Africa with a focus on participation in fairs, and the organization of road shows and workshops in cooperation with local tour operators. The focus will be on social networks for China (Weibo, WeChat, and blog Liuniwang) and South Africa (Facebook, Twitter, and blog Welcometoreunionisland).

All three countries benefit from a Visa Waiver Program which has significantly increased visitor numbers to Reunion Island.