CROSS POSTED ON BYLINE.COM
A rather amusing aside was missed by the national press and the BBC when they reported on the scandal last week of St Helena’s spanking new £285m airport which can’t be used by jets because it is too windy to land.
True they had fun with the video of a British Airways jet having to abort a landing because of the wind. So no chance yet of a new tourist boom because the only way there is by a six week journey on an ageing mail boat.
But they missed an extraordinary table hidden in a report commissioned by the St Helena government about where the island was located.
The National Audit Office reports that a marketing company- Acorn Tourist Consulting – asked lots of savvy long haul tourists where is St Helena.
Extraordinarily 19 per cent put the island in the Mediterranean – perhaps near Malta or Cyprus.
Another 15 per cent put the island in the English Channel – perhaps confusing Jersey’s St Helier with St Helena.
Another 8 per cent thought it was a tropical paradise in the South Pacific – perhaps near Fiji!
And another 5 per cent thought it was in the Indian Ocean – somewhere near Sri Lanka perhaps.
And 15 per cent admitted honestly they hadn’t a clue.
This left just 38 per cent who correctly identified it as a rocky island in the South Atlantic.
Mind you it might be as well that the Department of International Development has mucked up the project. Not only will it give it time for the island to find a jet that could land safely there but it will give isolated St Helena a bit longer to prepare for the tourist hordes.
For the same company which discovered the ignorance of British tourists has issued another health warning about going there.
It warns: “There will be new expectations of St. Helena as a destination. In just over 4 hours the tourist will have flown from South Africa to the Island. No time to adjust, reflect, read, and prepare for arrival as they do at the moment. This is likely to make visitors more demanding and less forgiving. They will start to lose sight of the remoteness and challenges an island 1,200 miles off the coast of Africa and 1,800 miles from Brazil faces.
Today, very few tourists leave St. Helena disappointed, but this may change once tourists start arriving by air. St. Helena then runs the risk of over-promising and under-delivering, and this will lead to some tourists returning home and not passing on in a positive way that most effective form of marketing – word of mouth.”