More fam trips and an online training programme are next up for the tourist board under the new direction from managing director Tony Mason. There could also be a loyalty programme put in place for tour operators.
“To be part of WTM would not have been thought about a few years ago so to be here is great and we can let the industry know we are not just a niche market,” Mason told Travel Daily at the show.
He went onto explain that one of its biggest obstacles is that GDS and online searches do not identify ‘Falkland Islands’ as a search option, often using ‘Mount Pleasant’ for the name of its airport. An unsearchable destination has been an on-going problem for the islands when it comes to travel agent or consumer bookings, with Mason encouraging companies to alter the name where possible to help drive bookings from searches.
On the islands themselves, Mason said its infrastructure and connections need to improve. Its biggest challenge is no direct airlink, something Mason said he hopes to develop in the next 12-18 months.
“Travel agents often ask how we can make the Falklands more affordable and this will only happen when we have air links in place and then people will start to travel more to there,” explained Mason. “Building airlinks will also help us to progress to hosting the start and end of cruises, which will take around 12-18 months to evolve. Cruise passengers are currently not staying in the Falklands because the infrastructure is not there”.
With the islands now open for investment Mason is hoping new hotels and eventual flights will boost visitation, while a new waterfront has already been approved with more bars, restaurants and entertainment options available. New tours and packages will also be developed.