Vanilla Island of Reunion increases visibility drive

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Reunion Island was for many years among the lesser known tourism destination of the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands group. For years, the Island was dependent on visitors from “metropole” via a number of direct non-stop flights linking the French Island in the Indian Ocean to France.

Everything started to change when Didier Robert was elected President of the Regional Council of Reunion, keeping the tourism portfolio very much under his office. Pascal Viroleau was appointed CEO of the IRT (Ile Reunion Tourisme) and they initiated an aggressive visibility campaign to bring them in line with the sister islands of Mauritius, Seychelles and Madagascar.


Didier Robert was an advocate for Regional Integration and worked closely with Tourism Ministers from the Indian Ocean Region. He was instrumental in the setting up of the Vanilla Islands grouping. Reunion Island was seen at all regional cultural events and was even a co-host of the Carnaval International de Victoria, which fell in the Vanilla Islands Calendar of Events. This enabled President Didier Robert and his impressive delegation to address the press conference and speak at the Opening Ceremony.

Today, Reunion Island is known as the Switzerland of the Indian Ocean with its incredible mountains now recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tourists from the four corners of the world are now choosing Reuinon as their destination of choice and are often combining Reunion in a two or three island combination with Mauritius, Seychelles or Madagascar.

Reunion Island has now moved their visibility campaign even further, opening their representative offices in the regional countries and advertising Reunion as a holiday destination wherever possible. In Seychelles, Reunion advertising panels can be seen on public transport, reminding visitors in Seychelles that Reunion is just next door .

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Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1979), beginning as a travel agent up through today as a publisher of eTurboNews (eTN), one of the world’s most influential and most-read travel and tourism publications. He is also Chairman of ICTP. His experiences include working and collaborating with various national tourism offices and non-governmental organizations, as well as private and non-profit organizations, and in planning, implementing, and quality control of a range of travel and tourism-related activities and programs, including tourism policies and legislation. His major strengths include a vast knowledge of travel and tourism from the point of view of a successful private enterprise owner, superb networking skills, strong leadership, excellent communication skills, strong team player, attention to detail, dutiful respect for compliance in all regulated environments, and advisory skills in both political and non-political arenas with respect to tourism programs, policies, and legislation. He has a thorough knowledge of current industry practices and trends and is a computer and Internet junkie.