Tourism and travels are currently facing heavy threats due to the global COVID-19 emergency which also has important economic and social consequences. Subsequent lockdowns and unprecedented movement restrictions caused globally a contraction of 70% of international tourist arrivals in January-August 2020 according to the UN World Tourism Organization Barometer. Unfortunately, the Principality of Monaco was not spared from this negative trend, being pushed to cancel or postpone many of its key events, business panels, leisure and cultural exhibitions.
The Annual Meeting of Monaco Tourism Representative Offices abroad that took place at the Grimaldi Forum on Monday the 14th December 2020, represented a significant moment to make some evaluations of the present situation and introduce a new strategy for the future. The presence of distinguished figures from the Principality, among whom H.E. Jean Castellini, Minister of Finance and Economy, and H.E. Mme Marie-Pascale Boisson, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Monaco in China, stressed the importance of the rendezvous.
The event was strongly desired by ‘Direction du Tourisme et des Congrès de Monaco’ (Monaco Tourism and Congress Directorate) that brings together annually its members and key actors of tourist industry. This year, the meeting took place partly in presence, partly in video-conference in order to reach all stakeholders, respecting sanitary measures. In fact, about ten international headquarters belong to the highest Monegasque authority for Tourism, covering topical locations like United States, Brazil, Japan, Germany and India.
Guy Antognelli (G.A.), Director of Tourism and Congress Body, pointed out the difficult situation which Monaco hospitality has been dealing with since the beginning of the year that pushed many top-ranked hotels to close temporarily or to reduce their services. Except for a slight recovery in the summer months, the number of foreign presences in Monaco has been drastically reduced. This also because of the limitations of air travel that will never be the same as before the pre-crisis full capacity, for a few years. Future is still uncertain but “all this must not find us unprepared when tourism will resume”, underlined the Director. Thus, to achieve satisfactory objectives the Principality has already adapted its communication plan to make Monaco brand easily recognizable and attractive. The drafting of a White Paper as Directorate guide lines is meant to encourage eco-tourism and corporate social responsibility.
What would you expect for the future? HelloMonaco collected some exclusive feedbacks from the speakers.
HelloMonaco: Mr. Antognelli, what do you consider most urgent at this stage?
G.A.: Monaco Government is strongly committed in supporting all companies operating in the field of Tourism with special regard to job preservation through targeted provisions like the short-time working. I do believe that is crucial to keep our accommodation capacity alive, avoiding that lack of clients which forces businesses to close. If that happened, there would not be way to keep up. For our part (Tourism Directorate) we are engaged in boosting Monaco as a lively destination where to spend time enjoying its ‘bon vivre’. When everything will improve, we are ready to act on a marketing basis through a specific network and the luxury Media. We are working with and for all involved parties to preserve tourism services as much as possible that means saving the highest number of jobs.
Guillaume Bereau (G.B.), advisor and auditor at Francois-Tourisme-Consultants, told HelloMonaco how they are progressing.
HelloMonaco: Mr. Bereau, which role the White Paper will play in bypassing the recent crisis?
G.B.: Its main mission is actually to identify issues and needs among different tourism operators, notably professionals, service providers and customers who truly decide the destination individually and collectively. At present, we have already realized that it is necessary to act although it is not the moment to set priorities. Communication, for example, is a keystone since some local realities are implementing best practices at social, environmental and corporate level without being sufficiently appreciated from both their clients and Monegasque citizens. Among other topics, environmental issues like waste management, biodiversity valorisation, energy transition are on the top list. All data we will be collecting until early next year will help Tourism and Congress Directorate to draw up a list of initiatives as integral part of the future strategy, depending on the availability of tools and capacities.
Among tourist offers the organization of social aggregation events was among the most penalized for the needs of social distance. How to recover a fundamental element of Monegasque life? HelloMonaco asked Sandrine Camia (S.C.), Assistant to the Director of Tourism and Congress.
HelloMonaco: Ms Camia, will be it possible to create new ways of enjoying ourselves socially?
S.C.: When it comes to leisure events in the Principality of Monaco, we immediately think about some must of our ‘DNA’: luxury lifestyle, glamour, high-stand sport challenges as well as cultural highlights, comfortable accommodations and best gourmet cuisine. It is fundamental to keep capitalizing on those themes by adding new ones. Responsible tourism, for example, is increasingly appreciated when to decide a touristic destination. But also Monaco cultural offer must be further enhanced through all festivals and entertainments organized throughout the year. We need to renew our storytelling to convince tourists to live on-site the Monegasque experience.