24 April 2023
Today, Monday 24 April, SHG has launched its Tourism Recovery Strategy (TRS) 2022-2024.
The primary objective of the TRS is to see a return to the arrivals numbers experienced in 2019 by the end of 2024, with appropriate tourism and hospitality services in place to meet the needs of visitors. This would be equal to approximately 5,000 visitors per year, excluding cruise ship visits.
Why do we need a recovery strategy for tourism?
Pre-pandemic, the provision of services to visitors had grown into St Helena’s biggest export sector. In 2018/19 the export of services (visitation expenses of tourists and non-residents) was 11.9% of £47.7m (total receipts), the second biggest contribution after UK financial and capital aid (83.1%).
In March 2020 the island put travel restrictions and stringent quarantine protocols in place to safeguard the community against COVID-19. Consequently, visitor arrivals decreased dramatically, with almost no leisure tourists and reduced arrivals from visiting friends and relatives whilst restrictions were in place.
During the pandemic, tourism and hospitality were the hardest-hit sectors on St Helena. Some businesses were mothballed, closed completely, or were forced to change their offerings. Emigration or retirement of key players in recent years has heightened challenges in the tourism and hospitality sectors, most notably recruitment. These factors will influence what tourism will look like and what services are available to visitors, and locals, as tourism recovers.
What is the TRS going to do help the industry recover?
The TRS offers a roadmap and key actions that can help the island return to pre-pandemic levels (2019) of visitor activity, and corresponding revenues, within the next few years.
Nine sub-objectives support the primary objective of the strategy. They are:
- Improve the St Helena visitor experience and increase average spend
- Develop and diversify the tourism product
- Strengthen and expand tourism services
- Increase accommodation capacity
- Increase destination awareness through targeted marketing campaigns
- Re-engage and develop key markets by increasing the number of tour operators selling St Helena
- Develop the skills of those that work in the tourism and hospitality sectors in order to improve the St Helena experience and increase customer satisfaction
- Establish a St Helena Tourist Board to represent the sector and provide oversight to Visitor Information Services and tourism functions
- Develop St Helena Tourism as an attractive model for divestment to the private sector once the tourism and hospitality sectors have recovered and show growth.
These key actions fall under three main areas of focus: product development, marketing and capacity.
The delivery of these focus areas are principally the responsibility of the Head of Tourism and SHG’s Marketing Manager, who will be working with the tourism industry, both locally and internationally to achieve this.
On the launch of the strategy, Minister for Treasury, Infrastructure and Sustainable Development, Mark Brooks, said:
“Pre-pandemic, tourism was already playing a key role in the economy and was forecast to continue growing in the future. COVID-19 obviously hit the sector hard. The launch of this strategy shows that we recognise that tourism is vital to the future prosperity of the island and this community. With £500,000 of dedicated support provided in the financial aid settlement specifically targeted at this sector, we hope to see the island’s tourism industry bounce back stronger and better over the next few years.”
Notes to Editors
A number of actions were identified in the Tourism Recovery Strategy 2022-2024 that required additional funding to be implemented. These actions have been judged to offer the greatest positive impact on the recovery of the tourism sector on St Helena.
This ring-fenced fund from FCDO will aid the development of visitor attractions and supporting infrastructure, will support an increase in promotional activities, and could increase the capacity and skills of those working in the sector, thus speeding up the island’s recovery from the impacts of the pandemic.
The Tourism Recovery Strategy (TRS) 2022-2024 is available on this webpage: https://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/government/public-information/
24 April 2023