Monaco has historically been a famed tourist destination and now in the New Year of 2017 the Principality is looking ahead toward new tourism markets and strategies.
Tragic events in Nice, BREXIT, mass strikes in France… This year has not been an easy one for European countries.
Monaco is likewise not an exception in aiming to attract a bigger flow of tourists.
The Director of the Monaco Tourist Office, Guillaume Rose, shares with HelloMonaco the results of the outgoing year, the current state of the tourism market and some secret strategies for the Principality.
HelloMonaco: The end of the year is a time for drawing conclusions. How would you rate 2016 compared to the two previous years?
Guillaume Rose: Let’s say that the previous years were extremely good. A 3% drop in these figures is expected in 2016. We’ve lost some Russian clientele. However, we still have many customers from Ukraine and Kazakhstan.
We also saw the return of Italian tourists in Monaco. Their presence increased by 15%, giving them 3rd place in our ranking. The bottom line is that I would say 2016 is still in the top-5 of our most successful years over the past 16 years.
HelloMonaco: We all remember the tragic events of this summer in Nice. How did they affect tourism in Monaco?
Guillaume Rose: To be honest, massive strikes against labor reforms in France have already had a significant impact on the tourist industry. The Euro Cup 2016 also had incidents. June and July were thus the worst months for tourism in Monaco.
Our numbers went down well before 14th of July. After the tragic events in Nice we did not feel any particular difference, as Monaco is still considered one of the safest countries. Moreover, unlike in France, no state of emergency was declared in the Principality. I cannot, therefore, say that we lost a significant number of customers because of the tragic events on the 14th of July.
HelloMonaco: Which countries are in the top-5 in terms of the number of tourists travelling to Monaco?
Guillaume Rose: The French are number one, followed by the British, Italians, Americans and Russians.
HelloMonaco: As the British are your second biggest customers, how did Brexit affect Monaco’s tourist market?
Guillaume Rose: We lost some customers, but the decline was not very significant. I cannot really say that it’s been a major problem for the tourist sector in Monaco. The Principality is still hosting large conferences and business meetings for British customers.
HelloMonaco: What can you tell us about American tourists?
Guillaume Rose: There were very few American guests prior to the elections in the United States. This is not surprising since the Americans do travel less around the election period. Last month, we participated in a major tourism conference in the US. A number of projects involving the Principality are planned for the next year. We are therefore quite sure that American tourists will return to Monaco in 2017.
HelloMonaco: Which places would you say are the most promising for the development of tourism in Monaco?
Guillaume Rose: To start with, Russia. Traditionally, we’ve been trying to attract more Russian tourists. They are very good customers. We are also very involved with Eastern Europe and Scandinavia. For example, Scandinavian tourists rank 6th in terms of our tourist occupancy. Mexico is another important destination. More recently, we’ve started to develop a closer relationship. This country has good potential.
HelloMonaco: Does the budget of the Monaco Tourist Office rely on the results of the previous year?
Guillaume Rose: The budget is based on government voting and does not depend on the outgoing year’s results. Five years ago, we managed to secure some solid funding. We are lucky to have the same budget, even during some less successful years. In addition, the Monegasque government is seeking to develop a positive image of Monaco abroad and to attract more tourists. This policy certainly complements our work. We do conduct marketing campaigns in different countries in order to promote the Principality abroad.
HelloMonaco: What interesting events have you got on your agenda for the coming year in Monaco?
Guillaume Rose: We organize some 700 events a year, with an average of about two events per day. The next year will evolve around two themes: the environment and vehicles. On 17th of February, Monaco will hold a major international exhibition of luxury electric vehicles, with famous designers presenting their work. The Venetian Carnival will also be celebrated in the Principality in February. This international event will attract many tourists. There will also be the Circus Festival, Monaco Grand Prix, Rolex Masters and some other events traditionally held in Monaco.
HelloMonaco: The logistics of such major events require a lot of work. How many people work in your Tourist Office?
Guillaume Rose: The office in Monaco has 52 employees. Another 48 people work in our 11 offices all around the world.
HelloMonaco: Recently Monaco held a large private event, an Indian wedding. You were also involved in the organization. How was this idea formed, to hold such a sumptuous event in the Principality?
Guillaume Rose: We have quite a close relationship with our Indian office and this office suggested to two future spouses that Monaco would be a highly suitable place to hold their celebrations. For the sake of confidentiality, I can only say that the bride and groom come from two powerful families from India. 800 guests attended their wedding day event. I know that all of them returned home extremely happy and content with the celebration. I have every reason to believe that more Indian weddings will be expected in the coming year in Monaco. We have the facilities to organize an event in such a way and on such a large scale that you wouldn’t even know that you are not in your home country. We can decorate the streets using traditional colors of the guests’ country. That is what we did for this Indian couple. Not only were the members of the wedding party happy, but Monaco residents also enjoyed the unique spectacle. They suddenly found themselves in festive India, with its bright colors and exotic music.
HelloMonaco: Construction work seems to be underway everywhere in Monaco. The official City Hall website says that some 45 construction projects are planned for the next year. Isn’t that too big a figure for our small principality?
Guillaume Rose: Monaco is constantly evolving and changing, it is truly an open-air museum. To keep it in this condition, a lot of work needs to be done. However, I do believe that there is a limit which we have now reached. I hope that the number of these building initiatives will not be increased.
HelloMonaco: In your recent interview you mentioned that same-sex couples are a new audience that needs to be attracted to Monaco. What kinds of activities can you offer them?
Guillaume Rose: Same-sex couples have been our new target for the past few months. These couples are often looking for a safe and quiet place for a romantic getaway. We would like to bring them to the Principality for celebrations such as honeymoons.
Monaco is known for its high level of security, we have no prejudice against gay marriages and gay couples, and we are ready to invite them to spend a relaxing holiday in the Principality. It is not to be dismissed that many wealthy gay couples appreciate the beauty and safety of Monaco. In addition, a PACS civil marriage contract which already exists in France will soon enter into force in Monaco. It will give more opportunities to same-sex couples in terms of legalizing their relationship.
Whether it’s putting on events, introducing festive traditions, or offering getaways for gay couples, Monaco has tourism strategies for the New Year that will be sure to garner the attention of visitors, both old and new.