Sailing Sponsorships to Promote Tourism?

The annual World Travel Market was held in London recently. attended the event to check out how the travel and tourism industry is using sailing to support their campaigns. The results. They aren’t.

The event is described by the website as a “unique opportunity for the whole global travel trade industry to meet, network, negotiate, conduct business and stay abreast with the latest developments in the travel industry.” Given the high level sailing sponsorship deals done this year with the stated aim of promoting travel and tourism, we wanted to know how the follow up activation was going. 

One of the most high profile tourism related deals this year has been Oman Sail. The Oman Sail website says:

Oman Sail has been set up under the guidance of Her Excellency, The Minister of Tourism, to develop and train a core team of Omani sailors who will represent The Sultanate both in Europe and in Oman at key sailing events. One of the principle objectives of the Oman Sail Team is to reignite Oman’s maritime heritage and help promote the Sultanate as a world class sailing destination and a place for inward tourism and investment from Northern Europe. 

You might have then expected the Oman stand at World Travel Market to have an eXtreme 40 or some printed materials outlining how visitors to the show could take advantage of the hype and send tourists to the country for sail related travel. Instead, the only mention of Oman Sail was a hastily printed black and white page describing an auction for VIP tickets to Cowes Week courtesy of the team. When we asked to speak to someone about sailing in Oman the response was one of confusion. Despite the investment and the amazing pictures of the Sail Oman boats with the country’s crest emblazoned on every sail, there was no activation. 

Other destinations didn’t fare much better. Valencia have moved on from the Americas Cup and now the F1 Grand Prix dominates their marketing materials and the folks representing Miami had no idea when ‘Race Week’ was. 

In the southern hemisphere, things were more encouraging. At the New Zealand stand, despite there being no printed material, the representatives knew of, and were willing to talk about the Louis Vuitton Paciffic Cup. The press releases are integrated into the main New Zealand Tourism media website and there were inbound operators present who were actively using the event as a way of bringing more tourists to the country. 

Later this week, the Sail, Power and Watersports show starts at London’s Earls Court. We’ll be interested to see if there is sponsorship activation at this event and at the Paris Boat Show in a couple of weeks time.