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Interview With Alain St. Ange

Seychelles tourist board director of marketing gives 2010 preview

Wolfgang H. Thome, eTN  Jan 26, 2010

A recent interview given by Mr. Alain St. Ange, Seychelles Tourist Board Director of Marketing and eTN Ambassador, is reproduced here with his kind permission for the benefit of our readers:

Alain St Ange: "2010 will see the consolidation of the tourism industry in Seychelles"

What is the outcome for the Seychelles tourism industry for the year 2009?

Seychelles has fared better than many other destinations as we take stock of the achievements of our work during 2009. We started off the year with an 18 percent drop in visitor arrival numbers, and the Seychelles government had even conceded that our arrival numbers could drop to as low as a minus 25 percent on our 2008 visitor arrival numbers.

But when faced with that situation, the government and the country's private sector entered into a public/private sector partnership, which saw the tourism trade take control of the Tourism Board, and today some nine months later, Seychelles can claim that the strategy in place is working.

Seychelles will end 2009 with barely a 1 percent drop in visitor arrival numbers on the 2008 figures and with booking for January 2010 showing a positive growth pattern.

The Seychelles Islands made a great improvement in the number of visitor's arrival. How do you explain that?

The Seychelles private sector has capitalized on their personal relationship with their overseas partners, and this has brought about a renewed confidence in the destination. Seychelles needs a strong and performing tourism industry, because tourism remains the pillar of our economy.

This has brought about a strong working partnership between the government of President Michel and the industry's association, the SHTA under the chairmanship of Mr. Louis D'Offay.

Today, the world has taken notice that Seychelles is a serious tourism destination, one that remains safe in an era when the world is being targeted by different trends and political currents. The diversity of our Creole Islands and its people remains an asset we are today pushing forward.

Seychelles is truly a rainbow country; you do not hear of an African Seychellois or a European Seychellois or of an Hindu or Chinese Seychellois. Seychelles has simply a fully integrated and harmonious population of Seychellois living in a country where summer never ends, where it is today 29 degrees and sunny, and a country blessed by its location to be free of cyclones and other such life-threatening disasters and tropical diseases.

Seychelles remains an untouched small country where nature has been protected. With its unique mid-ocean granitic islands and with its range of coral islands, Seychelles offers year-round white sandy beaches and turquoise blue seas to all its visitors.

What are the major changes since the public-private partnership in the management and marketing of the tourism sector of the Seychelles?

The main change that has taken place since the public/private sector partnership has come about is determination behind the marketing team at the Seychelles Tourism Board to relaunch our islands. We have reissued campaign posters that have reclaimed our unique selling points, our beaches, and our clear turquoise blue seas, something that was not being done because every other destination [was] using beaches.

We have the best beaches, and it was obvious for us to start using them to sell ourselves. We have also worked hard to break the perception that we were a destination only for the rich and famous. We needed to break that perception, because that is what that connotation was, a perception. We launched an “Affordable Seychelles Campaign” at ITB in Berlin to again reinforce that Seychelles had the range of accommodation establishments, from six-star resorts and private one island one hotel complexes, to large up-market resorts, to the smaller Seychellois units and self-catering establishments. All are available in Seychelles to suit every budget and every pocket.

What are your plans for 2010 as the marketing director of tourism of the Seychelles?

2010 will see the consolidation of the Seychelles tourism industry. Our annual marketing meeting, which will be held on January 27, 2010, will set the tone for our work in 2010. We will work to get the whole of Seychelles to join in and work with us for the consolidation of the country's tourism industry.

We are lucky to have the president of our republic to be himself so involved in our marketing drive. President Michel has opened new markets for us through his state visits to China, South Korea, and to Lebanon; we will now work to penetrate these new markets.

We also have some new innovative ideas, which will be announced during the course of next year that will do a lot to consolidate our country's tourism industry.

What are the major challenges facing the tourism sector in 2010?

The world’s economy remains a challenge for our tourism industry, but our size and the small number of tourists we want remains a major point that differentiates us with our competitors in these difficult times.

Seychelles will continue to tell the world that we remain a destination that offers personalized tourism. This is a fact, and very few other destinations can also state such a fact.

Air access is also a point of concern, but we are seeing the light here with Etihad announcing its four weekly flights to Seychelles in 2010 as Emirates Airline plans its daily flights to Dubai from Seychelles and as Qatar Airways plans to increase the size of its planes serving Seychelles. These are positive announcements that have come after the announcement of the consolidation plans of our national airline, Air Seychelles, to take it through 2010 and beyond.

What about the major hotel developments in the Seychelles?

2010 will see the opening of Ephelia Resort with its 300 odd rooms to be followed by the Raffles Resort on Praslin, the Shangrila Resort on Long Island, among many other openings planned for 2010. This comes after some 30 small Seychellois entrepreneurs opened their own boutique hotel across the Seychelles during 2009. Our accommodation block is now ready to accommodate our visitors from the four corners of the globe.

There are also some changes coming within the marketing team of the Seychelles Tourism Board (STB); what can you tell us about that?

Major changes will be announced at the January 27 marketing meeting. A strengthening of our European offices and the opening of an office to look at the Far East are on the cards. Here I will ask you to be patient and soon all will be revealed. My announcements will be good for Seychelles, this I can assure you.

What are the major events of the STB in 2010?

The consolidation of the Seychelles tourism industry is our target for 2010. To achieve this, we need to be present everywhere, from the luxury travel fair in Cannes to the tourism fairs in Russia, London, Paris, Berlin, Italy, etc. We shall be everywhere, and the 2010 budget provided by the Seychelles government has confirmed that we shall not only be seen, but that we shall also be heard right across the world.

This correspondent will report live from the marketing conference to be held at the end of January by the Seychelles tourism industry and update readers on the attractions the islands hold for visitors, plus feature a range of interviews with the who is who of the Seychellois tourism stakeholders.

Seychelles tourist board director of marketing gives 2010 preview
Alain St. Ange / Image via

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