St Helena at Destinations 2018
St Helena was once again a part of the largest UK Travel Show: Destinations. With a place on the Latin America Travel Association (LATA) pavilion, over 700 visitors over the four-day period popped by to talk to Jane and Zedella about St Helena, and why they should add the tiny island to their travel lists.
Day one and the excitement was building as stand holders were curious who would get a visit first. It took only 10 minutes after the doors opened for St Helena to receive their first curious visitors, who will be visiting the island on-board the MV Silver Cloud from 2 to 3 April 2018. They were followed over the next few days by travellers booked on the MV Boudicca, who will be on island on 16 February.
After speaking with stand visitors, it was clear that many of them had heard of St Helena but had not yet scratched the island off their list of places they have been. With many questions on the island’s new air service, attractions and ideal time to visit, it was a successful event with some attendees already planning a visit to the island, or glad to receive additional information before finalising their bookings.
After the first day closed, it was apparent that a pattern of questions had begun to form, one being the very hard-to-answer, ‘what’s happening with the Royal Mail Ship now that you’ve got flights to the island?’ It was hard to tell curious visitors that the island’s lifeline is scheduled to depart St Helena for the final time on 10 February, and even harder to hear many visitors commenting on how they had wanted to visit on-board the island’s ship but had just not gotten around to it.
Hilarious stories were shared at the show, as those who had already visited the island reminisced of their time on-board the RMS and the island, and recounted little anecdotes of their favourite residents, food and tours. Attending Officer Zedella Young said: “It was becoming a routine. We would be watching the crowds or saying goodbye to stand visitors and either an individual or couple would suddenly give a yelp and rush over to us saying ‘I have been to St Helena!’ It was great to hear their stories and they all spoke so fondly of the island.”
By the final day, the crowds had begun to thin but enthusiasm over St Helena’s new air access didn’t falter as new faces passed through the stand. Zedella said: “After 700 people and thousands of questions over a mere four days you can’t help but feel lucky to be a part of St Helena. So many people were smiling when they found out we were from St Helena and commented it was the first time they had met a Saint. We made a few eyebrows raise when we told them we had just flown out of the island, adding to the reality that St Helena is in fact accessible by air and only six and a half hours from Johannesburg instead of five nights by ship from Cape Town. We have already made note of those who will be on-island this year and can’t wait to welcome them and speak of our time together at Destinations.”