Weekly report from the Indian Ocean destination: – Seychelles, Mauritius, La Reunion, Madagascar
SEYCHELLES BLEAK FUTURE FOR THE PLANTATION CLUB RESORT & CASINO
BLEAK FUTURE FOR THE PLANTATION CLUB RESORT & CASINO
Seychelles largest resort, The Plantation Club Resort and Casino has been told by the Seychelles Authorities to stop taking bookings as from the 18 January 2008 and that their operating license will not be reissued in 2008. The Managing Director of the Resort, Mr. Mark Davison has now written to the Mr. Danny Faure, the Seychelles Minister for Finance, to Mr. Maurice Loustau-Lalanne, the Chairman and CEO of the Seychelles Tourist Board and to Mt Joseph Nourice of the Seychelles Investment Bureau to appeal the decision of the Seychelles Government that could cause the closure of the resort and repossession by the banks. The Plantation Club was used only in October by the Government of Seychelles for their Ambassador and Consul Meeting which was opened by President James Michel.
The Seychelles Hospitality & Tourism Association (SHTA) has said that it is important to watch the developments surrounding the future of the Plantation Club Resort & Casino as employees at the Resort believe that a Member of a Middle East Royal Family has been offered the Resort as soon as seizure formalities are enforced, because this would be sending a wrong message to investors coming to Seychelles. Mr. Louis D’Offay, the Chairman of the SHTA has written to the Seychelles President, James Michel, to appeal against the forced closure of the establishment.
COUNTRIES OF THE INDIAN OCEAN COMMISSION GET EXEMPTION FOR 10,000 TONS OF TUNA EXPORT TO THE EU
Member countries of the Indian Ocean Commission, notably Seychelles and Mauritius, the two major exporters of fish products in Eastern and Southern Africa, have obtained an automatic exemption to the rules of origin, for the export of 10,000 tons of canned tuna and tuna loins to the European Union. This means the group of countries, which also includes Madagascar and the Comoros, can supply up to 10,000 tons of canned tuna and tuna loins to the EU, irrespective of the origin of the fish. This, starting January 2008, will be for 8,000 tons of canned tuna and 2,000 tons of tuna loins. Until now these countries were not allowed to export any fish products originating from other sources, such as Russian or Korean vessels, unless they applied for specific exemptions. The automatic exemption has been allowed following recent negotiations within the framework of the Economic Partnership Accord (EPA) with the EU, which comes into force in January 2008.
BUDGET 2008 PRESENTED TO THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
The People of Seychelles and the Island’s Tourism Industry were presented with the country’s 2008 Budget when Mr Danny Faure, the Minister of Finance tabled his Budget Address in front of the National Assembly. The Tourism Industry has noticed some major operational changes for the coming year. All Foreign Currency Earners with an authorized retention level in excess of 25% will be required to now settle, in Foreign Currency, for their Good & Services Tax (GST), Fees for Work Permits for Non Seychellois Employees, Commercial Utility Bills to the Public Utility Corporation (PUC) & Fuel purchased directly from the Seychelles Petroleum Company (SEPEC). This will impact on the day to day running of most major resorts and on most foreign investments. An environmental levy has also been introduced to help the Seychelles face the challenges of maintaining its environment the Minister of Finance said when announcing the levy. This will be equivalent to one Euro Monthly added to the utility bill of every household, immaterial of size or acreage of the property. The minimum salary level of the Country has also been revised upwards effective 1 January 2008. The minimum salary per hour is now Seychelles Rupees 14.50 per hour for continuous term of employment and Rupees 18 per hour for casual labour (1 U.S. $ = 8 Seychelles Rupees). The Road Tax for vehicles will go up as well as Electricity and Gas bills. One good news for consumers was the removal of GST on some basic food items as had been called for by the Opposition Party (SNP) of Wavel Ramkalawan since the introduction of the Goods & Services Tax a couple of years ago.
‘EPHELIA’- by the Constance Hotel Group of Mauritius
The Seychelles is latest resort under construction is ‘Ephilia’ owned by the Constance Hotel Group from Mauritius. ‘Ephilia’ will be set against the beautiful backdrop of Port Launay on the western side of the main island of Mahe. The resort will have, on its two stretches of beach, 184 junior suites, 224 suites, 43 villas and a Presidential Villa. It will also have a complete spa village, five restaurants and bars, sports and racket club and conference center. ‘Ephilia’ will be the second Constance Hotels resort in Seychelles, following its ‘Lemuria Resort of Praslin’.
AFRAA meets in Seychelles
The African Airlines Association (AFRAA) conducted its 65th Training Session in Seychelles in 2007. The event which was hosted by Air Seychelles was attended by Egypt Air, Air Zimbabwe, Air Namibia, LAM Mozambique, Ethiopian Airlines and Cameroon Airlines. The training meeting was held under the theme “To serve African Airlines and to promote their common interest is AFRAA’s mission”. Capt. David Savy, Chairman and CEO of Air Seychelles accompanied by Mrs. Marja Karjalainen, his Director of Human Resources, officially opened the training meeting. AFRAA was established in April 1968 and today has 41 members including Air Seychelles.
Seychelles Sailing Club 2008
All eyes will be on Seychelles for the 2008 edition of the Seychelles Sailing Cup after the success recorded by the organizers of the 2007 Competition that saw the second Seychelles Sailing Cup with more than two dozen teams coming from Belgium, France, Spain and Seychelles participate. The competition took in a sailing course around the islands of Praslin, La Digue, Denis, Bird and Silhouette. The Sailing Cup has been not just about competition, but also about enjoying the charm and beauty of the islands, with competing boats using the islands as race markers during the day and enjoying beach parties and dinner parties at some of the island’s best resorts in the evenings. ‘Team Drive’ from Seychelles took top honors as the 2007 overall winner. The Seychelles Sailing Cup which is organized according to the ISFA’s rules for International Races is open to professional and amateur sailors alike.
Air Seychelles orders Boeing 787 Dreamliners for 2010
Air Seychelles hopes to replace its current fleet of B767-300 planes with the highly efficient and cost effective B787 Dreamliners in 2010.
The Chairman and CEO of Air Seychelles, Capt. David Savy, said that the choice to move to the Dreamliners is based primarily on the operational savings the plane will bring especially in terms of fuel efficiency and lower maintenance costs. Capt. Savy also remarked that as Seychelles was a high end destination with discerning clientele expecting the best the choice of aircraft was important and he assured the Seychelles Tourism Industry that the levels of comfort and in-flight amenities with wider space in economy and lie-flat seats in business class available in the Boeing 787 Dreamliners remain unrivalled.
Pictures of the World Heritage Site ‘Aldabra’ to be exhibited in Paris
A team of none professional photographers are currently on Aldabra Atoll collecting the necessary photo material for a major exhibition which will open in May 2008 at the Paris National History Museum in France. The exhibition being organised in collaboration with the Seychelles Island Foundation (SIF) forms part of activities to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of Aldabra as a World Heritage Site. Aldabra was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in November 1982.
JEAN CLAUDE DE L’ESTRAC UNSURE ABOUT ASSUMING THE PRESIDENCY
The Former Mauritian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Jean Claude De L’Estrac, who was proposed for the Presidency of Mauritius two years ago, has said that the offer has not been renewed, six months before he is due to take over. Mr De L’Estrac, who served a Minister of Foreign Affairs and later Industry in the Mauritian Government between 1990 and 1995 presently manages the ‘Sentinelle’ group, which owns the daily ‘L’Express’ and other publications as well as ‘Radio One’, one of the two private radio stations in Mauritius. This year he was named ‘Entrepreneur de l’Annee’ by the La Reunion based magazine ‘L’Echo Austral’ and ‘Citoyen d’honneur’ of Beau Bassin-Rose Hill, of which he was once Mayor. In an interview with “Weekend” he said that he was unsure that the presidency will change as anticipated in 2008. In Mauritius, the President has a largely ceremonial role and acting on orders of the Prime Minister.
TAJ EXOTICA RESORT & SPA CELEBRATES ITS THIRD ANNIVERSARY
The Mauritian Taj Resorts property, the Taj Exotica Resort & Spa has celebrated its third anniversary since its opening with 40 of its staff members who were at the resort on opening day. Nick Israel, the Resort’s General Manager has taken the opportunity of the third year celebrations to thank all his staff for their continued support that has given the resort the success it is experiencing.
SWITZERLAND PRESS PROMOTES MAURITIUS
Mauritius has been positively promoted by the Swiss Magazine ‘Air’ which specializes on Aviation, and by the ‘Swiss Golf Magazine’. Both magazines have devoted a main reportage on the island of Mauritius. Mrs. Carina Scheuringer, the main reporter of the “Air” Magazine has dedicated five pages to Mauritius and the special attractions of the Mauritian Hospitality. She was complimentary of Prince Maurice and L’Heritage Golf & Spa, the two establishments she had chosen to stay in when in Mauritius. The second reportage in “Swiss Golf Magazine” dedicated eight pages written by Albert Haller about the general beauty of Mauritius. It was reported that the Swiss Market was up by 12.2% over the 2006 figures The actual figure of arrivals from Switzerland for the Months of January to October stands at 13,375.
GERMANY’S ‘SUEDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG’ BUSINESS GOLF CUP FINAL
One of the most important daily newspapers in Germany, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung, has organized the Final of its Business Golf Cup at the Golf Club of the Constance Belle Mare Plage. Some 84 people were in Mauritius for the Cup Final made up of 54 golfers and 30 sponsors. The Mauritius MTPA and the German Airline, Lufthansa supported the event. The organizer of the Golf Competition, Hanswilli Jenke has said that they were happy to have been able to invite their readers, clients and golfers together in Mauritius. The main sponsors listed for this event were Microsoft, BMW, Lufthansa, Siemens, Premiere Fernsehen, UBS, MacGregor Golf Europe, SAP, Deloitte, Hewlett Packard, TUI and Apple Computer.
MAURITIAN COMPANY ‘VELING’ MAKES THREE PLANES AVAIABLE TO SRILANKAN AIRLINES
The Mauritian Company ‘Veling’ has announced that it has concluded a deal with Srilankan Airlines for a sale & lease back option for three A340-300 planes. With this transaction ‘Veling’ now has a fleet of 10 planes owned by them or under a management contract. Apart for the three planes with Srilankan Airlines, “Veling’ has two ATR42 leased to Kingfisher Airlines and five Airbus A310-300 with Air India. The President of ‘Veling’, Mr Uday Nayak said expressed his appreciation to all those who helped make the deal with Srilankan Airlines possible. “Veling’ has its Head Office in Pout Louis in Mauritius.
BRITISH AIRWAYS IN GERMANY OFFERS MAURITIUS AS ITS PRIZE
In a newsletter announcing the its Christmas Draw sent to 16,000 Travel Agents registered with British Airways Speedbird Club in Germany, British Airways has announced its prize for the draw as a holiday for two flying in Club Class and with 5 Nights at a Beachcomber Hotel in Mauritius. The Christmas Draw ix expected to be made on-line: www.speedbird
Golf in Mauritius
The Mauritius Golf Open and the Heritage Air Mauritius Golf Festival are keeping the island of Mauritius in the Golfing World News.
The Mauritius Golf Open which takes place at the Constance Belle Mare Plage and the Heritage Air Mauritius Golf Festival on the greens of the Golf du Chateau de Bel Ombre and on the Golf du Tamarina, both partners of that festival. The two time winner of the French Open, Jean Francois Remesy was one of the golf celebrities who traveled to Mauritius for the Golf Festival.
Xavier-Luc Duval wants to make the Mauritius Kreol Festival one of the world’s biggest festival events
The Mauritian Minister of Tourism & Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Xavier-Luc Duval has said that the creole pride had come alive with the ‘Festival International Kreol’ and that he wanted it to become one of the biggest festivals of the world. The event is being given world attention by the French ‘Paris Match’, the Australian ‘The Age’ and the French ‘RFO’ who were all in Mauritius to cover the 2007 Festival.
Minister Duval is also hoping to attract the participation of other ‘Creole Countries’ for the next festival.
‘Domaine du Chasseur’ relocated
Alain O’Reilly has relocated his ‘Domaine du Chasseur’ to Nouvelle-France from its past location at Anse Jonchee. It was believed to be impossible to revive this Mauritius attraction after the Ance Jonchee was sold, but Alain O’Reilly remained convinced and now believes that the 1500 hectares is more suitable as a property for his new ‘Domaine du Chasseur’. Green Parrots, wild pigs, monkeys and the lovely ‘Cerfs de Java’ are some of the attractions living freely on the estate. The hunting holiday is now, once again, a possibility in Mauritius.
LAND BLOCKED FOR USE BY MAURITIUS
The Mauritian Minister of Commerce & Industry, Mr. Rajesh Jeetah has reported upon his return to Mauritius form Madagascar that 13,000 hectares of land has been blocked for use by Mauritius which is limited with the land it has for agricultural development. Mr. Jeetah said that Mauritius was currently producing only 23% of the 636,000 tons of agricultural products consumed in the island. Mauritius will also look at the importation of charcoal from Madagascar a product it is presently using 500,000 tons annually. Mauritius is also looking at the possibility of setting up a Cement Factory and a Gemology in Madagascar.