The Seychelles Islands have been trending this week following the infamous account of an African American influencer who visited the destination briefly not long ago and said she was mistreated as a visitor.
The influencer’s article was posted at the beginning of the week where she recounted her ‘bad experience’ over allegations of racism. She also said that her trip did not go as planned despite being a guest of Tourism Seychelles.
Reacting to the article, Tourism Seychelles said it can very proudly say that it works with different black influencers from all over the world and always treats all its guests respectfully.
The Director General for Destination Marketing at the Tourism Department, Mrs Bernadette Willemin, explained that there has never been any discrimination with regards to who they work with, and that besides hosting black press personalities, influencers, and bloggers, they also participate in marketing projects targeting the black communities or clients.
On the issue of Tourism Seychelles not honouring its part of the bargain with the influencer, Mrs Willemin said her account is not correct.
“This is quite unfortunate, considering the excellent reputation we enjoy with partners from all around the world. It is very important to note and put in perspective how far we can go when hosting our guests. Our overall spending for marketing activities is carefully budgeted for two main reasons: we are accountable to the government and taxpayers, and we must ensure that we spend wisely and even more important, we get the return on investment on every single project,” she explained.
She continued that the destination is only able to work according to its resources, and in that context, it cannot fully sponsor influencers’ or press trips.
“Aside from our usual collaborations on media and educational trips, like most destinations, influencer promotion is part of our marketing mix to help boost Seychelles’ visibility. The scope of our work is quite wide, bearing in mind we receive a high number of requests for collaborations every year. Our commitment to work with an influencer will be based on a strict vetting system where we not only assess his/her engagement or followings but also ensure that his/her focus align with ours as a destination and fit our marketing strategies.”
The Tourism DG further explained that since the beginning of the year, Tourism Seychelles has received over 30 requests for collaboration per market, and that is from some 20 markets. When hosting an influencer, she noted that they often have to pay for the accommodation, meals, transfers, excursions, and tours as well as other ground logistics to ensure the guest has a memorable stay on our islands. And in return for this, they expect the commitment and coverage, or exposure promised as part of the agreement.
It is to be noted that there is always an agreement between the department and the guest to ensure that the sponsorship or hosting of the trip is clear for both partners.
Mrs Willemin concluded that every partnership with an influencer is carefully evaluated and weighed against its return on investment and there has always been good collaboration with the partners.
“Always in keeping with our strategies, whenever we are contacted by an influencer, we first see if they fit our criteria. If yes, we engage in further negotiation as to what we can offer or sponsor towards the trip. Same process was applied with Ms Akinyemi and our agreement was to collaborate with her by offering a few excursions. There was no commitment of any other services. To assist her with ground logistics, our team had put her in contact with other partners for her bookings and we did follow up with her on several occasions for her itinerary so that we could arrange her excursions according to her programme. We received no response from her,” she explained.
Mrs Willemin said it was regrettable to read such an article now as it not only attempts to paint a bad image of the destination but also disheartens the staff who work tirelessly to make sure they treat all guests respectfully, regardless of where they come from.
“We remain very proud ambassadors of our destination,” she said.