“Another month has passed and Seychelles, it can be said, has moved ahead with the concrete plans to consolidate its tourism industry. A Tourism Master Plan for Seychelles is finally being drawn up. This is indeed a step in the right direction, because Seychelles will finally have a Tourism Master Plan as we get ready to celebrate our 40th anniversary since our country launched its tourism industry on the 4th July 1971. The first tourism trade meeting chaired by [Seychelles] President James Michel to look at the difficulties faced by the industry was encouraging.
“The Head of State, who also holds the portfolio for tourism, dedicated time and patience to listen to industry representatives, [and] table their ongoing difficulties. President Michel was accompanied by two Ministers, [the] Secretary of State, and other government officials. This meeting has been followed by the first industry consultative meeting, with DMCs aimed at working with a whole range of trade representatives to get … as much information and reactions on which to build the country’s Tourism Master Plan.
“The [Seychelles Hotel & Tourism Association] SHTA is involved with the planning of these meetings and will ensure that feedback from every section of the industry is tabled with the secretariat responsible for drafting the Master Plan. One main point of concern has been the question GOPs. This issue is today seen as being the single biggest hindrance in being able to effectively do business in Seychelles. It is hoped that this issue will find an acceptable administrative solution in the Master Plan’s operational rules and regulations covering the tourism industry.
“Last month, I led the Seychelles delegation when we participated in what was called the planning for the ‘Vanilla Islands’ grouping. The meeting was held in Mauritius, and it must be said that our Indian Ocean islands are not yet mentally ready to say that we need to work together. Lip service to this noble proposal is still too much in evidence. The same points will again be on the agenda for the UCCOI meeting that will be held in Seychelles later this month.
“We implore to the CEO of the Tourism Board to again spell out the need for all the islands of our region to be sincere to this proposal or to just shelve the idea. It cannot be a success unless we are all sincere to this vision. Every island in the Indian Ocean will benefit if we all take the proposal seriously, otherwise the status quo remains, and we all spend time looking at the shortfalls of each other.
“The land of perpetual summer, the Tourism Board is saying, [is the tag line] as they spread the all-year summer climate of the Seychelles. We remain unique to have been blessed with this advantage where our visitors can swim in our clear turquoise blue seas at any time of the year. This is why we are again saying that access to our pristine white sandy beaches remain[s] accessible to all our visitors. Beaches must remain public, and gates barring public access to hotels as is the case in Mauritius, must be discouraged.
“Seychelles prides itself as being the friendly isles, and the apparition of the big gates must be discouraged if we are to retain our uniqueness. Seychelles is known for having more to see than just the hotel booked by our visitors; let us preserve this unique selling point not shared by our neighbors. The notion of diversity in what we have is an asset, [and] we must and we should tell the world, because it brings to life the notion of freedom and the spirit our real ‘island style’ of tourism aptly called the ‘Seychelles Brand.’
“The 2011 Seychelles ‘Carnaval International de Victoria’ has been well received in the different parts of the world. Seychelles needed a major event that would make it visible, and this carnaval will help in the repositioning of our country. Alone, the Seychelles Tourism Board will not be able to deliver what is needed for our country, and we all need to rally to assist to make this March 2011 event one that will do us proud. The Tourism Industry’s Association salutes the Tourism Board in their move to reposition Seychelles as a fun loving country and promises to stand behind them in their effort to make this first edition our Carnaval a success. Events were needed, and as we have just put the 2010 edition of our annual underwater festival to bed, we must all rally to partake in this month’s Creole Festival. We must get our visitors involved, as these events are helping to showcase what we are and what we have.”