Although the current tourism season in the Falklands is still in its early stages, the first results of an on-going visitor response survey carried out by the Falkland Islands Tourist Board show some interesting and even unexpected results.
Falkland Islands Tourist Board, Director, Connie Stevens shared with Mercopress some of the commonly recurring comments expressed by around 250 mainly cruise ship visitors who have been interviewed at some length by Tourist Board staff and make up the sample so far. While these contained some complaints and areas of dissatisfaction, for the most part they were extremely positive.
It would appear that visitors to Stanley from the larger cruise ships are less interested in fish and chips than in a good cup of tea, and that almost all would like more places in which to sit down and rest legs, which may be somewhat aged and unaccustomed to walking. Despite the fact that many visitors found Stanley's two hotels to be less friendly than its cafes, the majority of visitors to the town cited the enthusiasm and friendliness of the Falkland Islanders as a major source of satisfaction. Many also enjoyed their visits to Stanley's bars and pubs.
In fact, while the visitor facilities of Stanley and the lack of high value craft items to buy come in for some deserved criticism, the human contact side of the visitor experience is consistently highly rated. Whether it be shown by the quality of information offered by the staff at the Visitor Centre and the Museum, the knowledge and communication skills exhibited by tour guides or just the cheerfulness of casual passers-by, the visitors to Stanley appear to appreciate the warm welcome they receive here.
A very common request this year so far has been for more time ashore; something which Mrs. Stevens hopes she may be able to persuade the cruise ships to offer, though she is aware that this request may be in part attributable to the generally excellent weather that cruise ship visitors have so far enjoyed in Stanley.
Out of local control, unfortunately, has been the low exchange rate of the USA dollar against the pound sterling, to which the Falkland Islands pound equates in value. As the majority of cruise ship visitors are North American, - some 60% in previous years ? they have been finding Falklands prices expensive.
If the information available from the Stanley Visitor Centre has rated highly, the information available from the ship itself prior to the visit has often been found to be misleading, out of date or both.
The Tourist Board Director reports with pleasure that a significant number of cruise ship passengers have been inquiring about longer-stay holidays in the Islands and expresses the hope that some portion of the 40,000 or so day visitors expected this year, will come back for a longer visit, perhaps to see the Rockhopper penguins, which consistently rate as the ?must see' species out of the five varieties of penguin which breed in the Falklands.
John Fowler (MP) Stanley