Seychelles has finally turned a new page in its tourism industry. The Seychelles Hospitality & Tourism Association (SHTA), the country’s association regrouping all sectors of its tourism industry, congratulated President James Michel for having taken over the tourism portfolio in his latest council of ministers reshuffle. President Michel has demonstrated without any doubt that he places a lot of importance on the Seychelles tourism industry, the industry that is often referred to as the main pillar of the Seychelles economy. The importance of the industry for the Seychelles economy was always known, but today everyone in the country must appreciate the support now being offered by the President for a positive drive forward for its tourism industry.
The announcement, also made last week by President James Michel, of a restructure at the Seychelles Tourism Board has brought in Alain St.Ange to the position of CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board and of Mr. Barry Faure as the new Seychelles Tourism Board chairman. Mr. Barry Faure is also the Secretary of State in the President’s Office. This gives the industry a direct line to the Head of State.
SHTA has worked hard to see tourism become the industry Seychelles can continue to defend and believe in. The days of non-industry professionals managing the industry are over, and tourism must look forward with optimism. The Seychelles Hospitality & Tourism Association congratulated Mr. Alain St.Ange on his appointment and wished him continued success. Alain St.Ange is also the recently re-elected vice chairman of SHTA. His appointment as CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board unites the Seychelles tourism trade and the government’s official tourism office, signaling that a new era has now opened its doors over the Seychelles tourism industry.
Too often in the past when the tourism industry said something and even agreed on a way forward, proposals were cast aside by the executive chairman of the Tourism Board. One such matter is the ongoing “Grading or Classification Exercise.” The trade made its point clear on the matter, but the Seychelles Tourism Board just continued with its exercise against the firm decision of the board. This was why Seychelles tourism was so divided. President Michel had appointed members of the private sector to be in control of the Tourism Board, but some civil servants were too set in their ways to accept board decisions and acted independently. It is hoped that all this is but a bad patch in the history of Seychelles’ tourism industry. The industry appeals to the new chairman of the Seychelles Tourism Board and its new CEO to go back into the minutes of the Seychelles Tourism Board and to implement decisions taken for the well-being and continued development of tourism.
Everyone is talking of the illegal accommodation establishments. The industry’s meetings on Praslin and La Digue highlighted the problem facing Seychelles. These individuals are today not helping the country’s economy, but bleeding it. Government must urgently bring together those responsible to police this problem and look at catching one such operator and then hitting him/her hard to make an example that such a practice will not be tolerated. The practice is taking business away from licensed establishments and they are getting away with not contributing to the state coffers. Every visitor fills in an immigration form on arrival and the time has arrived to ensure that every visitor has a valid hotel voucher for the duration of their stay in Seychelles. Illegal establishments will not be able to have a hotel voucher for immigration purpose. The government must rid Seychelles of this practice seen as a cancer of the island’s tourism industry.
Sadly, Air Seychelles has stood firm on its mid-year increase in charter rates for the inner islands. Tourism used to pride itself that it was an industry that understood the norms and even appealed to government to understand the necessity to be aware of any increases on the industry before issuing rates to tour operators. Today, it is not the government that is the problem, but the country’s own airline that changes rates mid-term. The time has arrived for Seychelles to have people who can meet to look at the country as a whole and not at its own little piece of the tourism cake.
Congratulations go out to Mr. Michel Gardette, chairman of the Praslin Development Fund, for announcing at the Praslin marketing meeting that “Fond Ferdinand” will be open to tourists and organized groups soon. This is a welcomed addition to the Praslin tourism infrastructure. At SCR100 entrance fee, it makes for an “Affordable Praslin excursion,” which is in line with the “Affordable Seychelles” campaign. It is hoped that other parks and similar tourist attractions will follow suit and maintain entrance fees at an affordable price for visitors. Everyone in the trade is being encouraged to support the Praslin Development Fund with its new venture. Tourists can take pictures touching the female Coco de Mer nut and its male catkin as they have young trees fruiting and flowering within easy reach. This announcement was a real positive step for Seychelles’ tourism industry.