Monaco lures Southeast Asian travellers with promise of luxury

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The Monaco Tourism Authority is visiting Southeast Asia in an attempt to attract more of the region’s well-heeled visitors to its high-end hotels and attractions. Addressing the Thai travel trade in Bangkok on Thursday, the Monegasque delegation underscored Monaco’s status as a luxury tourism destination, but stated that prices in the city still compare favourably to other European cities. Average hotel rates are approximately 25-30% lower than in cities like Paris and London, it stated.

“Luxury is what we do,” said Guillaume Rose, president of the Monaco Tourism Authority. “[But] it is important that people pay the right money for what they get.”

While Monaco may sometimes be overlooked by Asian visitors in favour of Italy or France, the Monaco Tourism Authority is aiming to position Monte Carlo as “the ideal place” from which to explore all three countries, with a five- or six-day itinerary allowing guests to explore the local area, including the French Riviera, northern Italy and even the Alps.shutterstock_184466333

Analysis by Mark Elliott

It is easy to see why Monaco’s tourism authorities are targeting Asia. Unashamedly high-end yet surprisingly affordable, the city will appeal to the new generation of well-heeled Asian travellers. There was an audible murmur during the Bangkok press event when a picture of the Hermes store appeared on screen. The name ‘Monte Carlo’ was originally conceived as marketing term, intended by the Monegasque authorities to be pronounceable in any European language. In the 21st Century, the country will need to create new set of marketing materials to cater to the rising number of Asian travellers.

The authority also urged agents to promote helicopter transfers to Monaco from Nice Airport, which, it claimed, are available for about THB5000 (US$136) –  similar to the price of a taxi.

Building on this luxurious entrance, Monaco was also keen to underscore its credentials as a destination for fine dining, with famous Michelin-starred chefs including Joel Roubichon and Alain Ducasse operating restaurants in the city. And with Monaco being the “safest country on Earth”, according to the tourism authority, visitors can “go to dinner with their jewels” without the fear of having them stolen.

Monaco attracted approximately six million day visitors in 2014, with leisure travel remaining the largest sector. But this is changing; the proportion of leisure travellers visiting Monaco was 71% last year, down from 77% the previous year, while business travel has increased to 29%. The city also attracts an estimated 300,000 cruise passengers each year.

The Monaco Tourism Authority road show is being held in partnership with Hotel Metropole, which houses Joel Roubichon’s multi-Michelin-starred restaurant, and Fairmont Monte Carlo, which overlooks and gives its name to the famous hairpin bend at the Monaco Grand Prix.

It is also being partnered by Turkish Airlines, which provides two daily flights from Istanbul to Nice, and a number of onward connections to destinations on Southeast Asia.

By Mark Elliott Courtesy Travel Daily Asia

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