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St. Ange Indian Ocean report

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Alain St. Ange l eTN Ambassador  Apr 04, 2008

SEYCHELLES
NAIADE RESORTS SELL SHARES IN DESROCHES ISLAND AND MOVES OUT OF SEYCHELLES
Mr. Jean-François Rivière, the chief marketing officer of Naiade Resorts, has announced that the Mauritian Hotel Group has sold its interests in Desroches Island Lodge to a consortium of investors represented by Mr. Jaysen Golding and that Naiade Resorts would continue running Desroches Island up until May 31, 2008. Naïade Resorts has also confirmed that it will also keep running the lodge’s booking sheets and taking bookings in parallel with the hotel until May 31, 2008, when the booking sheets will revert to the hotel. The purchasers have also confirmed in the same communiqué that it would respect all the terms and conditions of existing contracts with Desroches Island Lodge Ltd and that during the month of June they will be refurbishing and upgrading the hotel. The contact person for the consortium of investors will be Mrs. Sharon Theron, who is based on Mahé the main island of the Seychelles. Naïade Resorts Ltd, which moved into Desroches Island after the Maldives Company MK Resorts attempt to manage the Lodge failed, was instrumental at repositioning the island and bring into the island the needed confidence to enable tour operators to promote and sell it to potential visitors. Mr Patrice Hardy, Head of Naiade Resorts has been overseeing the expansion on Naiade Resorts into La Reunion with the purchase of the three properties of ‘Villa Group of Hotels’ and have also now moved into the Maldives.

CORAL STRAND HOTEL BEING REFURBISHED
The Coral Strand Hotel has been an icon in the history of tourism in Seychelles, due to its prime location. The new general manager, Grisele Camille, says that she is committed to the staff of the Coral Strand Hotel and their professional development, which reflects the principles of the new owning company, Savoy Hotels, to offer their customers an even better level of service and product. They have recently taken on training programs with the Seychelles Tourism Board, Seychelles Institute of Management, Compufast, Seychelles Tourism Academy to form the foundation of a pyramid of training development to enhance the performance of the staff and offer them opportunities to remain current with latest techniques and methodology used in the global hospitality trade. The planned refurbishment of the property will see all the service outlets undergo a complete facelift to cater for the overall enhancement of the Coral Strand Hotel. The entire image of the hotel will be upgraded for the opening planned for early July 2008, to embrace an ambiance of elegance, ease and status to reposition the beach front property.

SEYCHELLES TOURISM INDUSTRY ISSUES NEWSLETTER TO PROTECT THE INTERESTS OF ITS MEMBERS
The Seychelles Tourism Industry has launched its own E-News bulletin in a bid to protect the interests of its members, to echo its concerns to the Seychelles Authorities and to keep anyone with an interest in the developments in the Seychelles Tourism Industry abreast with the latest happenings in the country.

SEYCHELLES TOURISM INDUSTRY Speaks... is the new electronic monthly news release which is being circulated freely to every internet subscriber in Seychelles and to as many private Seychelles email addresses as possible. Every tour operator and travel agent selling the Seychelles and Press people who have visited the islands have also been placed on the mailing list, as well as the International Agencies such as The World Bank, IMF, etc. To obtain a free mail out of the news release is by simply emailing the email addresses to sha@seychelles.net. A copy of the first issue can be viewed by simply logging on : http://www.seychelles.net/sha/ The editor of this E-News on behalf of the Seychelles Tourism Industry is Alain St. Ange, who is also the eTN Ambassador for the Indian Ocean Islands and the current Vice chairman of the Seychelles Hospitality & Tourism Association.

SEYCHELLES PRESIDENT’S VISIT TO KUWAIT AS WAS REPORTED IN THE KUWAIT NEWS
The Kuwait cabinet of ministers noted the importance of boosting the existing friendly relations in different areas. Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah briefed the cabinet on results of the recent visit of Seychelles President James Michel to Kuwait and topics the guest discussed with His Highness the Amir Abdulrahman Salem Al-Ateeqi. The talks focused on boosting bilateral relations and other issues of mutual concern, which led to the signing of agreements for preventing dual taxation, and countering money smuggling with regard to taxes on capital.

ITALIAN AIRLINE ‘EUROFLY’ STARTS FLIGHTS TO SEYCHELLES The Italian Airline ‘Eurofly’ has started a weekly service to Seychelles using a 282 seat Airbus A330-223 aircraft. The CEO of the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA), Gilbert Faure confirmed the new flight and said that ‘Eurofly’ had been designated by the Italian aeronautical authorities to fly the route Italy-Seychelles-Italy. ‘Eurofly’ also operates schedules services and tour charters form Italy to different European Cities, Africa and the Middle East. The Airline, based in Malpensa International Airport in Milan was established in 1989.

AIR SEYCHELLES DROPS ITS FLIGHT TO SINGAPORE AND CUT FLIGHT TO BANGKOK TO ONE PER WEEK Air Seychelles dropped its weekly flight to Singapore and that it will now be operating only one weekly flight to Bangkok. Travelers going to Singapore from Seychelles may now go via Bangkok by Air Seychelles or use Emirates Airlines via Dubai. Air Seychelles launched its two flights per week to Bangkok only last December, but had been flying to Singapore since 1989.

CHINA WAIVES DEBTS OF 49 DEVELOPING COUNTRIES It was reported from the China Daily Xinhua that China has waived 374 debts of 49 developing countries in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and the South Pacific by the end of last year. This was confirmed by an official with the Ministry of Commerce's foreign aid department. The exact amount of the written off debts, however, is not known. It was also reported that China has helped recipient countries complete nearly 2,000 projects, ranging from agriculture and industry to communications, health and infrastructure. In 2005 the government of China began sending young volunteers abroad. And since then more than 200 youngsters have been sent to countries such as Thailand, Laos, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Zimbabwe and Seychelles.

FELICITE ISLAND TOURISM DEVELOPMENT MOVES AHEAD An upmarket resort planned for Felicite Island will boast a hotel and residential villas with a total capacity of some 125 rooms according to an Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIA) just published. The EIA has not made any comment of environment concerns relating to the development. The developers are Per Aquum, a Company based in Maldives, which already has a Hotel on another Seychelles Island, Silhouette, and Mr Gregoire Payet & Associates. The Seychelles government has been given the island of Felicite on a 60 year lease. The island was “compulsory acquired” by the same Ggvernment from the Cauvin Family now residing in Australia and the United States of America (USA). The development on Felicite Island, 4km from the Island of La Digue will have 25 up market villas allegedly each with their own helipads. Felicite Island also comes with Ile Coco Marine Park which is reputed for some of the best diving and snorkeling sites. The Resort will also have a new jetty to accommodate boats taking visitors on excursions. This island is only 3 kilometers long and only 20 minutes boat ride from La Digue Island.

MAURITIUS
DEATH PENALTY BEING DEBATED Mauritius is debating if it is to re-introduce the death penalty for serious crimes, including murder. Mauritian Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam has said that he will make his position known when the matter is debated in parliament. Mr. Pravind Jugnauth, leader of the opposition MSM Party, has come out in favor of the death sentence for murder and drug trafficking and Paul Beranger, the opposition MMM Party has said the his MPs were free to vote on the matter based on their personal conviction. The capital sentence, death by hanging, was last carried out in 1986 for someone convicted of murder.

MAURITIUS TO RECEIVE MORE VISITORS FROM ITALY Italy remains the third most important market for Mauritius after France and Great Britain and this year Italy is again showing interesting signs for the Mauritius hospitality network. The feeling was being echoed prior to the departure of the Mauritians to BIT the Tourism Trade Fain in Italy. Dr Karl Mootoosamy, head of the MTPA Promotional Authority has said that from Costa Cruises’ 21,000 tourists who will be landing in Mauritius in their 2008/9 season 40 percent would be originating from Italy. The cruise ship market is proving very important for Mauritius and the island’s government has decided to build a dedicated cruise ship terminal at a cost of 300 million Mauritian rupees.
NEW TERMINAL FOR PRIVATE JETS Mauritius will soon have a special air terminal for private jets. This will be a first for the Indian Ocean Region. Mauritius received some 300 private jets in 2006, notably rich vacationers from Europe, the Middle East and Russia. The new terminal will combine discretion, personalized service and time saving for the rich and famous and it will also help relieve congestion at the main terminal. The project is an initiative of the private sector company, General Aviation Mauritius (GAM) at a cost of Euros 12 Million and will provide parking for 9 planes and 3 helicopters. It will also provide a 2500 sq. meter hangar for aircraft servicing. Nirvan Veerasamy, the director general of General Aviation Mauritius said that Plaisance Airport had been unable to keep up with developments in airline and tourism arrivals and this had often resulted in congestion and flight delays.

MAURITIAN FARMERS BECOMING EXTINCT IN ZIMBABWE Out of some 40 Mauritian farmers settled in Zimbabwe for farming only four are left. Mauritian diplomacy has failed to achieve anything tangible for the Mauritians who had invested in Zimbabwe. The Mauritians have been forced out by harassment, physical attacks, and expropriation of property and by expulsion. The last Mauritian Farmer to be expropriated, whose farm was 180 hectares, left Zimbabwe in January this year after 130 hectares of his farm was arbitrarily seized. He said that he had hoped to cling on to the remaining 50 hectares, but had not reckoned with the determination of two of President Mugabe’s officials who were coveting two plantation houses on his property. He told the Mauritian Press ‘L’Express’ that two ZANU-PF officials came to his farm one Sunday and his manager was given only four hours to vacate the place.

2007 ARRIVAL FIGURES CONFIRMED AT 906,971 TOURISTS Mauritius received 906,871 tourists in 2007 according to the final Official figures just published. Minister Xavier-Luc Duval has congratulated all concerned and echoed a word of caution at the same time saying that 2008 could be a more difficult year with the economic recession that is looming over the United States of America which would have a major impact on the rest of the world’s economy. In monetary terms, Mauritius recorded a 30 percent increase in visitor spending and Accommodation Establishments ended the year with a 75 percent average occupancy level. Minister Duval has invited his local tourism partners not to take the successes of last year for granted because of the sensitivity of the industry. He asked everyone concerned to double their efforts and to work for a 15 percent increase in 2008 where the Mauritian environment would this time be base of the country’s new advertising campaign. A new promotional clip entitled “Survival of the dodo” is already being prepared.

GERARD ESPITALIER-NOEL NOW HEADS INDIGO HOTELS & RESORTS The known Mauritius tourism personality, Gerard Espitalier-Noel, has been appointed to head the division of Tourism & Leisure of the Indigo Hotels and Resorts Group. A subsidiary of the Food & Allied Group of Companies, Indigo Hotels and Resorts comprises of Telfair Golf & Spa Resort, and the Labourdonnais and Suffren at Waterfront in Port Louis. Mr. Espitalier-Noel had previously been involved for the past 30 years with Air Mauritius.

MAJOR PORT EXTENSION IN MAURITIUS Port Louis’s Sea port is set to grow thanks to investments totaling euros 114 million which will be used to extend the container terminal, a new fishing port and a quay for Cruise Ships. Port Louis is presently consolidating its position as a major transshipment center in the region and has already increased its handling capacity from 400,000 to 700,000 containers. A fair share of the containers handled in Port Louis in Mauritius is destined to Madagascar, Seychelles, La Reunion and Comoros, but more than 50 percent is still for the Mauritian Market.

RODRIGUES’S AIRPORT NAMED ‘SIR GAETAN DUVAL AIRPORT’ The Airport on the Mauritian Island of Rodrigues has been baptised “Sir Gaetan Duval Airport”. The son of Sir Gaetan Duval, the current Deputy Prime Minister and Mauritian Tourism, Leisure and External Communications Minister Xavier-Luc Duval was in Rodrigues for the occasion. Sir Gaetan has marked Rodrigues history by his determination and actions. It was because of his legal actions that the People of Rodrigues obtained the ‘right to vote’ in the 1967 general elections. He work hard to upgrade essential services for the island and it was him who got the airport runway concreted in 1977. In 2006, 49,500 passengers landed in Rodrigues, out of which 28,000 were Mauritians, 10,100 were French citizens from the neighboring island of La Reunion, 8,800 were Rodrigues Islanders themselves and the remaining passengers came from the United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Belgium, Seychelles, South Africa, United States of America, India among others.

MAURITIUS SETS NEW CRITERIA FOR TOURISM ON STATE LAND The Mauritius government has set new criteria for the allocation of state land for tourism developments. The Ministry of Lands has said that promoters will now need to be of proven track record and that the hotels would need to be at least 100 rooms of a four or five star level with an investment of Mauritian Rupees 500 Million ($18 million). Developers will also need to show the social benefits for Mauritius to be derived from the project.

NEW MEASURES ANNOUNCED TO SAFEGUARD SECURITY FOR TOURISTS The Mauritian Ministry of Tourism has announced a series of new measures to ensure that Mauritius remains a safe and secure destination for tourists. Mr. Xavier-Luc Duval, the minister responsible for tourism, has come out strong on the issue which he has personally listed as one of his priorities. “One incident against a tourist, is one incident too many” said Minister Xavier-Luc Duval in a communiqué issued by his office as he launched new measures to crackdown of perpetrators of acts against tourists. As part of the new efforts to make Mauritius safe and secure for its visitors, those arrested for incidents against tourists will now appear in court before the departure of the tourist from Mauritius. More security will be in place at hotels and appropriate action will be taken against unlicensed and illegal establishments that are continuing to offer accommodation to visitors. Tourist Police numbers will be substantially increased. The Mauritian government is hoping that their new measures will help reduce the numbers of incidents against tourists. In 2005, 904 such incidents were recorded, in 2006, the number increased slightly to reach 909 incidents, but in 2007, the number dropped to 882.

“AFRIKA, AFRIKA SHOW” IN MUNICH, GERMANY The Mauritian Tourism Promotion Authority (MTPA), with the support of the local trade partners, brought Mauritius to Munich’s ‘Afrika, Afrika Show’. The brainchild of Andre Helier, Afrika, Afrika had as mission the aim of showing a different image of Africa through the senses and music. It was aimed at getting to the masses through the ‘joie de vivre’, color and music and not by intellectual presentations. The event was supported by the TUI German Tour Operator who had invited about 300 of the VIP Clients to be at the show. The Mauritius ‘VIP Tent’ manned by MTPA, Air Mauritius and other Trade Partners were able to bring out the Island Feel of Mauritius. MTPA representatives commented that the interest in Mauritius was evident and that they were able to captivate potential holiday makers. The Event rallied 105 artists, 34 dancers and 13 musicians from Africa for a spectacular show which wanted to bring out to the German Public the culture from Africa. It was staged under the umbrella of UNESCO and of the Goethe Institute and the show will move on to Vienna and Salzburg in Austria, in Barcelona in Spain and in Paris, France.

THE ‘REAL’ MAURITIAN HOSPITALITY The claim that small and authenticity brings out the real feel of a country can best be confirmed by the properties such as “Les Lataniers Bleus” at Riviere Noir which has just celebrated its 10 years of operation. Mrs. Josette Marchal Vexlard, the person behind the success of this operation which goes out of its way to bring the real Mauritius to its visitors. The sales and promotional pitch speaks of the ‘Human Face’ behind the Business and of the ‘Island Feel’ that Mauritius is known for. “Les Sirandanes’ is the latest of such Mauritian Hotels to have now opened its doors. They are known as the Hotel de Charme and they pride themselves as offering the folkloric flavors of Mauritius.

MAURITIUS INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT IS IN TROUBLE The International Airport of Mauritius, its “Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport” has been cause for concern and complaints have been coming in from all angles. Arriving passengers have had to wait up to two hours to recover their luggage on a Monday morning after flights from Dubai and Europe had landed in the island paradise. Passengers were vocal about their dissatisfaction of the situation especially as no information was forthcoming about the reason for the delays. Arriving passengers were making it clear that they were disappointed that the point of entry of Mauritius could be giving such a first impression of the island that prides itself as ‘the’ holiday destination. The last impression of Mauritius was as chaotic with long queues described by the Mauritius Press as “Pagaille au depart.” On Saturdays Mauritius has an average of 16 flights departing the island and the apparent chaos on such days has been describes as disorganization with over 100 meters queues. A local journalist from the L’Express Newspaper, Mr. Raj Meetharban, wrote in his editorial that the publicity for Mauritius sells the island as a welcoming destination, but he says that it is completely at the International Airport. A regular visitor to Mauritius said that Governments often look at Hotels and blame Hotels for bad publicity, but they forget that the National Airlines and the Country’s Airport are often the first and last impression of the destination and they are often the missing link for a memorable holiday.

DR KARL MOOTOOSAMY SAYS MAURITIUS MUST BE ATTENTIVE TO GLOBAL HAPPENINGS
The Head of the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority (MTPA), Dr Karl Mootoosamy has said that Mauritius must remain alert and understand what is happening in the world. He listed the American recession, the enlargement of the Schengen Zone, the financial crisis of the main financial markets, the petrol crisis, the state of the environment as a deciding factor attracting holiday makers and the climate change. Dr. Mootoosamy confirmed to the Mauritius tourism trade that 2007 was exceptional year and warned that 2008 could be a difficult year, but that Mauritius would achieve its set objectives in arrival numbers. The targets set are increases of 7 percent from France (+19,000), 10 percent from Great Britain (+7,500), 10 percent from Germany (+7000), 8 percent from Italy (+600), 6 percent from Switzerland (+1,000), 25 percent from Spain (+3000) amongst other stated increases.

LA REUNION
DUVAL AT TOURISM MEETING IN LA REUNION The success of the Mauritian Tourism Industry has interested the its neighbor and the Mauritian Minister for Tourism and Vice Prime Minister Xavier Luc Duval has been invited to share his experiences at a tourism meeting in La Reunion. In 2007, Mauritius welcomed 118,000 more visitors than in the previous year. The increase has been in the region of 15 percent annually arriving at a total of 906,900 tourists in 2006, and tourism earnings was up by 27.4 percent over the previous year. Minister Duval said that Mauritius was accessible, attractive and visible and that this was the key to its success, and that this would be tabled in La Reunion. Minister Duval also referred to the need to further develop regional tourism and for his desire to see the reduction of taxes levied on airline tickets for regional routes.

NEW WORLD HERITAGE SITE The French committee responsible for national assets is now set to present to UNESCO a dossier for a World Heritage Site for Reunion Island. Islanders from La Reunion are proud of their active volcano ‘Piton de La Fournaise’ and of the ‘trois cirques’ Mountain marvel. The Indian Ocean region already has three UNESCO Heritage Sites in Madagascar and two in the Seychelles.

AIR AUSTRAL SET FOR NEW ROUTES 2008 will see the Reunion Island Airline, Air Austral, take off for new long haul destinations. In corporation with Air Caledonie International, the Reunion based Air Austral of Mr Gerard Etheve will introduce two weekly flights Paris – La Reunion – Sydney – Noumea. Mr. Etheve has been recorded as saying that there is a movement of some 7000 people between La Reunion and New Caledonia flying through Mauritius and Sydney.

MADAGASCAR
334,000 TOURISTS IN 2007 Madagascar recorded 334,000 thousand tourists in 2007 according to the official records. That was an increase of 12 percent on the previous year. The most popular areas in Madagascar remained Nosy Bay, Sainte Marie Island, the Tulear region and the Fort Dauphin in the south of the main island. Tourism has also now become a main pillar of Madagascar’s economy bringing in 145 million euros in 2007.

St. Ange Indian Ocean report



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