Earlier this year, Recommend visited the Falkland Islands, describing it as “a rarity,” among destinations—“bucolic and pastoral in one breath and wild and untamed in the next.” This uniqueness is what’s drawing tourists to what Goway Travel calls “one of the last untouched wildlife wonders of the world. Here, unspoiled beaches, islands and cliffs provide a natural safe-haven for hundreds of species that have made the Falklands their home.”
In fact, in his new role as the managing director of the Falkland Islands Tourist Board, Tony Mason—a U.S. native who was most recently managing director of the London-based travel services group, Lycafly—will be targeting U.S. upscale travelers who specifically seek wildlife (particularly birdwatching) destinations.
“With the growing appeal of the fabulous wildlife encounters, pristine beaches and outdoor activities afforded by the 778 islands that make up the Falklands,” says Mason, “we believe the concept of island hopping will continue to gain in popularity as people look to explore the diversity of the different islands. We will continue to educate travelers on the different islands and what each has to offer. Anyone looking for an entirely new experience, or just loves nature, will love the Falklands.”
That said, the tourist board will also be targeting cruise passengers given that cruise arrivals make up more than 60 percent of total arrival numbers. Cruise passenger arrivals is predicted to be 35,000 in 2012 of the predicted 57,000 total travelers in 2012. Land-based travelers, incidentally, are predicted to be 7,600.
“Tourism from North America is particularly important to us,” says Mason, “with land-based tourism to the Falkland Islands up 38 percent in the past year and a total of 233 percent since 2008.”
“Mason,” says the chairman of the Falkland Islands Tourist Board MLA, Mike Summers, “will lead an established team in growing the industry here. These are exciting times for tourism development in the Islands, with significant new investments planned to improve infrastructure and client experience for cruise and land-based clients.”
Mason, who took over this position on Aug. 1, will be working from Falklands’ capital, Stanley and brings with him a wealth of experience in travel PR, marketing and sales. He has held director level roles for the past 10 years, and previously worked in both the client and agency side of marketing in land-based and cruise tourism. “I am very excited about further educating trade and consumers on the many tourism opportunities the Falklands has to offer.”
The key destination that goes with a trip to the Falkland Islands typically includes Chile, where travelers can easily stop in Punta Arenas (Patagonia) and Santiago on their way to and from the Falklands. In fact, travelers have to go through Chile on the weekly flight on LAN to get to the Falklands.
Most land-based travelers stay in the Falklands for seven days. Here are some suggested tour operator itineraries:
• Goway Travel’s 8-day Falklands Wildlife (call for rates)
• Latour’s 8-day Falkland Islands (call for rates)
• Cox & Kings’ Falkland Islands Encounters (call for rates)
Travel agents take note that the best time to visit the Falkland Islands, located in the South Atlantic about 300 miles from South America, to truly experience the local culture and wildlife is October to April. Additionally, agents should look out for incentives and FAMs in the forthcoming months, because, as Mason points out, it’s extremely important to partner with the travel agent community.