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With a change in the direction of the wind Christopher Pickard, just like Mary Poppins, has decided that the time has come to move on to the next challenge and in October he will return from the South Atlantic Island of St Helena, where he has been director of tourism since 2015, to the UK and Critical Divide.
Chris has chosen not to extend his contract as director of tourism for St Helena when it ends in late September. In his view St Helena Tourism is now well positioned to handle the arrival of tourists in greater numbers once the scheduled air services begin later in the year from South Africa. The key going forward, he says, is for St Helena and its residents to embrace tourism and the arriving visitors, and offer them the best possible experience at a level that today’s international tourists demand and expect, while keeping true to the island’s rich heritage.
“Since my involvement with St Helena we have, despite the delay to the start of scheduled flights, been able to position the island as an exciting new destination with leading tour operators, the media, and the more adventurous travelling public. St Helena is now much less of a secret than it was when I landed in 2015,” explains Chris. “By the time I leave, St Helena Tourism and the entire Enterprise St Helena team will be prepared for the arrival of visitors by air as we continue to fine tune what the island has to offer and can offer in the future. The next step is to start to close potential sales with the final consumer and the tour operators who have been waiting on the start of air access. I have always believed that it is the Saints themselves who are best suited to this role of selling and promoting the island.”
Chris will continue to watch with interest the developments on St Helena from a tourism and economic development perspective, and he looks forward to catching up with his firends and colleagues from St Helena Tourism at up coming travel shows and events.
Christopher Pickard has been appointed as the new Director of Tourism for St Helena. Chris will be on a two-year contract, and will take up his post on arrival at St Helena on 14 October 2015.
Chris will be working with Enterprise St Helena and the Tourist Office and will build on the work already started in expanding, developing and enhancing St Helena’s tourism industry to be on par with best practices globally and for the benefit of the Saint community, the tourism sector and investors alike.
Chris said of his appointment:
“The opening of the Airport and start of scheduled flights next year will mark the beginning of what should be a new and very exciting chapter for St Helena. I am honoured and delighted to have been chosen to play my small part in this developing story and will be trying to help St Helena and its residents to build and create a sustainable travel and tourism sector – a sector that should bring very real and tangible benefits to the majority of the Island’s population.
“I look forward to learning about everything that the Island currently offers to its residents and its visitors and, in conversation with Saints, I want to understand how they would like St Helena to develop. By applying my global travel experience and contacts, I will then aim to achieve these objectives through tourism.”
Chris is former chairman of the Latin American Travel Association and is a founder and trustee of its charitable foundation. He set up the Brazilian government’s first overseas tourist office, and has been the director of communications for the World Travel & Tourism Council. In his career, including with Critical Divide, he has worked very closely for and with a number of tourist boards, airlines, cruise lines, hotel companies, destinations, as well as tour and ground operators.
He has also written extensively about travel and tourism and has authored and contributed to a number of guidebooks and travel publications.