Seychelles tourism industry speaks


SEYCHELLES – An eventful time it has been in Seychelles – a rogue shark made two appearances, the effects of climate change is being felt in different ways, and the main market is facing trying times. A real turmoil it is.

A bear eats a young British school boy in Scandinavia, a shark strikes twice in Seychelles as one strikes in Russia, in South Africa, and in Australia simultaneously. Some say it is the effect of change in behavior resulting from climate change. Whatever the reason, these abnormal incidents have given us all cause for concern.

We say thank you to the authorities for having acted fast and, above all, being on hand from day one. Alain St.Ange, the CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board, must be congratulated for a job well done. Facing some of the press who were out to dig for mud cannot have been easy. He was everywhere, on every TV station all over the world, as he was on radio stations and in newspapers in the four corners of the world. The Tourism Board’s “Friends of Seychelles – Press” came in handy to help disseminate the factual and official version of events.

On behalf of the Seychelles Hospitality & Tourism Association (SHTA), it is important that Seychelles expresses its sincere sympathy to the two grieving families from the sad shark incidents. We are so very sorry is all that can be said, as prayers are made on behalf of the families for the needed strength and courage to cope in this difficult time.

After 50 years of trouble-free seas surrounding the Seychelles, shark nets will now come up. A sure sign of changing times… effects of climate change being felt in the center of the world – in Seychelles.

Speaking at the opening of a seafood speciality restaurant at Louis D’Offay’s own hotel, talk was about the need for diversification in Seychelles’ target markets. Work has already started in that area, but the country needs to be serious and not expect miracles to happen.

Diversification of target markets is costly and the government needs to make the necessary funds available. If this is not forthcoming, the country shall be stuck with traditional markets and face the consequences as and when economic difficulties are felt in these key markets. The “Seychelles Brand of Tourism” needs a constant supply of oxygen for it to remain healthy.

Seychelles should not pat itself on the back as if all the work is now done because of the increase of airline seats now available on the Seychelles routes. Easy come and easy go… work has to continue to increase visibility of the islands and ensure bookings on all these airlines otherwise they will disappear as fast as they came. Seychelles must learn from the past and not repeat the mistakes of the difficult past. Neighboring islands are also working to follow on the achievements of Seychelles. Mauritius has now moved to increase Emirates flights to eleven per week. Everyone is on the move, and Seychelles needs to maintain its edge.

The La Digue second meeting has brought a lot of relief to the Diguois. The attention and respect they have been accorded is commendable. The first meeting was chaired by the Secretary of State in the President’s Office and the follow-up meeting, called barely a month later, was chaired by Minister Joel Morgan. A large delegation of senior government officials including Ernest Quatre, the Commissioner of Police, and Didier Dogley, the PS for Environment to name but a few were present. La Digue has heard the promises and the will to make things happen. La Digue now will wait to see all what was promised fall into place. Thanks goes to Chez Marston, Chateau St. Cloud, and Domaine de L’Orangeraie for facilitating meetings.

Tourism numbers are faring better than predicted and is taking Seychelles by surprise. This is good news, but now the Ministry of Finance needs to work with the trade to help increase the yield. While those in Seychelles knows the benefits from the work done by the Tourism Board, the Ministry of Finance needs to understand Seychelles’ trade and bring about a mind-set change to see the new Seychelles its people want to help consolidate.