The secret behind the success of a luxury travel destination

Guy Antognelli has been the Director of the Monaco Government Tourist and Convention Authority for more than three years, but his experience in the travel and tourism industry dates back to 2011. Representing one of Europe’s most popular luxury destinations, he will be joining one of the panels at Forward_MAD on October 6th in Madrid.  This interview is a little appetizer of what he will share with the attendees.

1. Monaco is one of the most glamorous luxury destinations in Europe, what is the secret behind it?

As a joke, I can tell you that we never give the secret ingredient of a successful recipe…but in fact, it is really a harmony of several elements: ideal location and weather, safety and cleanliness, and of course the dream of success that everybody envies. You come to Monaco to indulge yourself in a modern and vibrant country that has known for centuries how to transform itself, keeping its DNA strong and alive.

2. How has COVID affected the visitors’ figures and behaviour, as well as the travel industry in the Principality of Monaco? Is it already recovering? How?

Monaco, as all other countries, was hit very strongly by Covid, even if we locked-down the country only once at the beginning of 2020. We had a decrease of 55% in the number of visitors in 2020 and 2021 saw a rebound of 44%, but still 39% below the figures in 2019.

Full recovery is now on its way, as all big events happen at full capacity and summer is being very good. Only the MICE segment is still slowly recovering, but we hope that in 2023-2024 it will be close to 2019 level. If in summer 2021 the visitors were mainly Europeans, we see now people coming from all over the world, at the notable exception to Asia-Pacific and sadly from Ukraine and Russia. But even with this important clientele missing, summer is going to be better than in 2019 as the number of visitors during the recent Formula 1 Grand Prix, one of the highest in the last 10 years, shows.

3. Monaco is a destination committed to sustainability – it even has a green access guide – are luxury travellers more aware of the environment and committed to protect the environment? How are you facing this challenge in Monaco?

We released our White Paper on Sustainable Tourism in autumn 2021 to make an inventory of what we have already done – and it is a lot – and also to explain which will be our priorities in the coming months and years. Our professionals, hotels and restaurants are committed to become a carbon-neutral country by 2050, following the roadmap of HSH Prince Albert II. We also dedicate a lot of effort to ban single-use plastics and reduce food waste. I think it’s important for our customers to find this commitment in Monaco, even if they don’t specifically ask for it, we need to show and explain what we are doing. We need a shared effort to make tourism have a strong and positive impact on the environment and society.

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