(September 3, 2008) – The Falkland Islands Tourist Board (FITB) hosted a Falklands themed ‘Smoko’ event yesterday to introduce media and trade contacts to all that these fascinating Islands have to offer. Smoko is a term Falkland Islanders use for a tea/coffee and snack break, and the word was originally used by sheep shearers for a cigarette break.
Jake Downing, FITB general manager, introduced the destination and the growing land-based and cruise tourism significance to guests, while Hattie Kilmartin, from Bluff Cove Lagoon Tours provided an informative insight into her first-hand experience of running a tourist lodge at Port Howard and providing guided tours on the Islands.
Tourism is the fastest growing industry in the Falklands, and the sector has developed over recent years into a world-class product, offering a variety of experiences to a wide-ranging audience. The Falkland Islands is now in a position to promote itself competitively to the UK market, at a time when consumers are increasingly demanding exclusive, off-the-beaten-track experiences.
Today’s travelers are more adventurous than ever before and are increasingly demanding. They want to discover authentic experiences in untrodden locations. The Falkland Islands provide just this experience. Stunning scenery, unspoiled landscape, amazing wildlife roaming free in its natural habitat and a distinctive culture and way of life offer a haven for the adventurer pursuing a special interest or seeking a unique, outdoor experience in a friendly, welcoming environment.
The Falkland Islands also attract people who want to indulge their hobby or passion abroad. It offers a haven for birdwatching and photography enthusiasts, plus other niche activities such as natural history, walking, military history, fishing, diving and sailing, all of which are growing in popularity as people desire interest-centerd holidays.
Long-haul travelers frequently wish to ‘get under the skin’ of the country and get a deeper understanding of it. The Falkland Islands is the perfect destination to take advantage of this trend as its outstanding natural attractions combine with a strong cultural heritage.
Cruise holidays continue to experience an unprecedented boom (the Passenger Shipping Association estimates 1.5 million Brits will take a cruise in 2008), and with the Islands already welcoming over 60,000 cruise ship visitors in the past year, this number can only be expected to increase as consumers become more aware of the Falkland Islands as a must-include destination on their itinerary. Twin center holidays are also growing in popularity, and the Falkland Islands can be combined easily with trips to other Latin America destinations, as well as being the gateway to South Georgia and the Antarctic.
The Falkland Islands Tourist Board has in place a new Tourism Strategy which will ensure the continued development of the industry. Aims include achieving substantial growth in land-based tourism; exceeding regional cruise ship growth; increasing passenger revenue from cruise ships; creating, developing, investing in and maintaining a world-class tourism offering and increasing awareness of the Falkland Islands as a unique tourist destination.
Jake Downing, general manager of the Falkland Islands Tourist Board, said, “I look forward to sharing the fantastic opportunities for UK visitors to the Falklands. It really is nature’s best kept secret and is just waiting to be discovered.”
The Falkland Islands remains a well-kept secret, mainly due to some misconceptions that can be easily corrected. People believe the Falklands is difficult to get to, yet there are twice-weekly flights from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire and weekly flights via Chile with LAN, as well as over 100 cruise ship visits per year. Visitors may also be concerned that they won’t have a chance to see the famous wildlife once they reach the Islands, while in fact, the abundance and accessibility of wildlife is unsurpassed. Footage of the 1982 war, shows the Falklands in the middle of winter, but the weather is milder that people expect. In summer the average temperature is 15°C and in winter it is 5°C. The Falklands actually has more sunshine hours and less rainfall than the UK. While people may think the Falklands lacks infrastructure, the Falkland Islands Tourist Board actually has over 85 members from the local community, including tour guides, restaurants, hotels, retail outlets, craftspeople, and farmers. Stanley is a thriving town which has everything you need and seven pubs to keep you entertained!