As reported several weeks ago about the planned cooperation between Seychelles and Kenya, when the two countries entered into a principal agreement to promote “twin center holidays.”
Kenya Airways as the dominant eastern African airline is flying regularly between Nairobi and the Seychelles’ main international airport on Mahe, offering an ideal extension option for passengers first arriving in Kenya for a safari and then opting for an exotic beach vacation on one of the many islands with world class resorts across the Seychelles.
Last week, a delegation from the Seychelles were in Nairobi for meetings with their tourist board counterparts, the Kenyan travel trade, workshops, a media briefing and the formal launch of the partnership. Delegation leader as Alain St. Ange, who is the man responsible at the Seychelles tourist board for marketing and who is also the eTN correspondent for the islands.
It is also understood that the Seychelles Tourist Board is seeking more such partnerships with suitable countries along the continent’s eastern seaboard to entice more tourists visit the islands and take a safari vacation at the same time.
Arrival figures for 2009 so far show a minimal reduction over the 2008 numbers by only 5 percent, a success considering the global economic and financial crisis that had hit other long-haul holiday destinations competing with the Seychelles in the global holiday market.
The stabilizing effect is largely credited to the Seychelles’ government decision earlier in the year to “divest” the running of the tourist board and all tourism marketing activities to the private sector, which has boldly stepped up to the challenge and managed to arrest the global downward trend. The board notably persuaded more airlines to fly to the islands, while other airlines will add more flights from later in the year when the traditional high season is starting again.
Expect to find a the Seychelles at all major forthcoming tourism trade shows in coming months, where a range of private sector stakeholders will showcase the islands’ attractions and unique features. The next such trade fair will be “Top Resa” in Paris, the most important French tourism exhibition, followed by BIT in Italy, ILTM in Cannes and, of course, the 30th anniversary edition of London’s the World Travel Market.
Additional marketing activities are also planned, including racing a “branded car” at a formula ii meeting in Spain in a few weeks time, aimed to keep the focus of key consumer groups on the Seychelles. Meeting requests for any of these tourism trade shows can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting www.seychelles.travel.
Kenya has recently also entered into a similar arrangement with South Africa, and the Seychelles’ desire to cooperate with other African countries can only be applauded for adding value and opportunities, something much needed to position the eastern African and Indian Ocean countries as a mainstream holiday region for safaris, beach vacations and cruises.
What is of special significance here is that the Seychelles, an Indian Ocean island nation at the edge of the African continent but very much part of Africa, is taking the initiative to its continental neighbors to spur cooperation and partnerships, underscoring the enormous potential of multi centre holidays to Africa, just as long as the right logistics have been put into place. This includes an open visa regime, where tourists coming to several countries during their holiday can obtain a single visa permitting them to visit for instance eastern Africa and the Seychelles, alignment of inoculation requirements and increased (and affordable) flights between the main holiday destinations.
Joint planning and preparations of tourism trade show attendances will also make a difference by having exhibition stands and stalls near each other to portray the spirit of regional cooperation and moving away from the isolated, stand alone format of how things were done in the past.
The global economic and financial crisis, with all its inherent challenges for African holiday destinations, has also opened opportunities for cooperation and teaming up, an opportunity the Seychelles seems to have grasped with both hands.