Monaco magic

Stakeholders are reporting that outbound travellers from Asia to Monaco are increasing, proving that the destination is still sought after

Monaco is shaking off its post-lockdown cobwebs, and is ready to welcome the Asian leisure market after two years with refreshed products and the promise of a luxurious European adventure.

During the pandemic, notable areas such as the Casino Square and Larvotto Beach were given facelifts, while the Monaco Grand Prix, Monaco Yacht Show, and Monte-Carlo Jazz Festival are once again mainstays in Monaco’s busy yearly calendar.

Port Hercule in Monaco (Photo: Benjamin Vergely)

To attract more tourists, Benoit Badufle, managing director of the Promotion Bureau of the Principality of Monaco, shared: “We have also rolled out a series of thematic trips ranging from a friends getaway to gastronomic adventures to appeal to the leisure market.”

That is why Charlotte Harris, managing director of Charlotte Travel, a Hong Kong-based travel agency affiliated with Virtuoso, believes that Monaco will continue to appeal to her clients.

“I think Monaco tourism is doing a great job promoting the many attractive events in the region. Many of our clients are drawn by the unique events and plan their trips around these dates. Monaco is also full of exceptional hotels and high-end boutiques.”

This positive sentiment is echoed by Julia Lai, general manager for Kuoni Tumlare in Malaysia.

“Monaco has always been on the bucket list for travellers. Aside from having an elegant vibe, tourists are curious how such a country with a low population can sustain high living standards and an elegant lifestyle.”

Local hoteliers are eager to promote to various Asian markets, building onto their current sales strategy that in the past two years was largely focused on European markets.

Jesus Scott, director of sales, Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo, said: “We know that travellers in Asia, especially China, are eager to travel abroad. We will focus our actions on the niche market of HNWI living in Asian capitals, as well as the first-tier cities in China, as there is great potential there.”

For Fairmont Monte Carlo’s director of leisure sales, Koji Ito, the hotel is already welcoming FITs from India, and package tours from Malaysia and Thailand.
However, one of the largest challenges in selling Monaco to the Asian jetset is air connectivity.

“We used to have more Middle Eastern and European carriers flying from South-east Asia to Nice (in France, the main gateway to Monaco), but not all flights have resumed their routes, and therefore capacity is affected,” Lai shared.

To welcome more Asian travellers, Scott pointed out, the “regular airlift to Europe” has to be restored, for example, the direct Air China flight between Beijing and Nice pre-pandemic.

To keep the travel industry abreast of Monaco’s happenings, Badufle shared that “in-person reconnections” with key travel partners, tour operators, agencies, and media in the region are currently happening, having recently visited Indonesia and South Korea.

Ongoing infrastructure projects include the waterfront eco-district Mareterra set for completion in 2025, while the extension of the Grimaldi Forum convention and exhibition centre will finish in 2024.

Looking ahead, Monaco’s Exotic Garden – first opened in 1933 – will reopen in 2023 after a two-year renovation that will enhance its botanical and cultural aspects, as well as offer improved accessibility.

Meanwhile, Monte-Carlo’s iconic Café de Paris – temporarily located within the Hotel de Paris – will also reopen in 2023 after a two-year uplift, which will raise the current brasserie by two floors, as well as introduce a unique rooftop space.

Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo will also undergo its next phase of renovations, with its restaurant expected to open in spring 2023, and renovated guestrooms in October 2023.

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