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Seychelles offers tourism for all – but needs to say it as we start 2019

Seychelles has a diverse tourism product which makes its strength and which has guaranteed its success. Seychelles offers tourism for all. Visiting journalists to the islands continue to raise this question, and only last week Alain St.Ange, the former Seychelles Minister responsible for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine was quizzed on the ‘Tourism for All’ he had pushed during his campaign as a Candidate for the post of Secretary General of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).

Minister Alain St.Ange spoke about the continued drive by Seychelles for every niche market within the tourism industry. “Firstly Seychelles does not discriminate in who visits the islands. We are friends of all and enemies of none, which is why we welcome everyone with no necessity for Visas by anyone to visit our islands. Friends cannot be made to seek a Visa to visit their friends.  Secondly because of our unique location where we benefit of a weather pattern that gives Seychelles 365 days of summer every year, and the connotation of being the islands of perpetual summer, we have a unique flora and fauna and therefore we attract from bird watchers to botanists, to scuba divers and snorkeling enthusiasts, to bush walks fanatics, sailing, boating, island hopping holidaymakers, culinary tourism, cruise tourism and more. Seychelles has even been listed in the arena for sports tourism and more recently in medical tourism since the arrival of modern privately run dialysis centers. Seychelles welcomes couples, families, single travelers and members from the gay tourism world. Handicaps or religious groups are also all welcome for a dream holiday in our mid-ocean islands where the color of the skin, religious beliefs, political affiliation plays no part on how we welcome you in paradise” St.Ange said.

The former Seychelles Minister who publishes his own weekly tourism report (Saint Ange Report) and runs his own tourism consultancy (Saint Ange Consultancy) nevertheless spoke with passion about the island’s tourism industry saying that Seychelles has the best in five star properties as it has unique and exceptional ‘one island – one hotel’ properties, but is also has a range of three and four star properties and a number of small ‘home grown’ Seychellois properties in villages and districts right around the islands which raises the question if Seychelles is being visible enough with what it has on offer.

“Tourism for All should be pushing Seychelles to have a solid stock of hotel rooms to serve its tour operator partners and to guarantee a continuous airline service that provides seamless connections to the tourism source markets. Tourist needs have changed, and expectations continue to change as well. A number of past visitors are now returning on holidays to Seychelles as families and these trips include kids, parents, and grandparents. It is known that this travel group has been a dominant force in the industry for the last few years. A lot about travel continues to change. Seychelles today has Long Haul flights with but one stop and those that are direct and non-stop which are being more sought after. Seychelles operates through three Middle East Hubs (Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha) and two African Hubs (Addis Ababa and Nairobi). On the other side of the equation airlines like British Airways, CONDOR, Edelweiss, Austrian Airline and JOON of Air France are offering direct non-stop service to the UK and to Europe but they all have one thing in common, they all need passenger load to ensure continuity. Some airlines to Seychelles has three travel class (first, business and economy) and others provide Business and Economy only. Regionally Air Seychelles and Air Austral link the islands to India, South Africa, Mauritius and Reunion” Alain St.Ange said.

“The future of Seychelles Tourism remains on the recognition or appreciation of Seychellois who are in the industry and who are key drivers of the industry. The call for Seychellois to claim back its tourism industry will have no meaning if Seychellois are marginalized. It is Seychellois who will defend the industry and help the country to consolidate its tourism industry. They are the country’s partners and they are here to stay.  Seychelles needs more than ever before to ensure the local operators are treated as assets for the industry and respected accordingly The foreign investors will benefit and they will feel safer with their investments more secured when their Seychellois counterparts are happy and contented.” St.Ange said.

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Second Iranian tour group arrives in Upper Egyptian city of Aswan

The second Iranian tour group to visit Egypt in decades arrived in the country on Friday, two months after the arrival of a first group that had raised the ire of ultra-conservative Sunni-Muslim Salafist groups.

Egyptian Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou had earlier attributed the apparent halt of Iranian tourism to Egypt’s “low season.” A ministry source, however, confirmed that the stoppage had been due primarily to Iranian anger over the cold reception received by Iranian tourists in Egypt.

The latest group, which arrived to the Upper Egyptian city of Aswan early Friday, consisted of 134 tourists. During their days-long visit, they are scheduled to tour the city and take a Nile cruise to the nearby city of Luxor.

In April, more than 50 Iranians – the first Iranian tourists to visit Egypt since relations between the two countries were severed more than 30 years ago – arrived in Upper Egypt amid tight security. The visit came as part of a bilateral tourism agreement signed in February between Cairo and Tehran.

Diplomatic relations between the two countries were cut following Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution. Since the election of Egypt’s Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2012, relations improved slightly, with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visiting the country in February.

Following Ahmadinejad’s visit, however, Egyptian Salafist figures and movements – along with other Islamist groups – expressed anger, saying such visits could lead to the expansion of Iranian-Shia influence in the country.

Earlier this month, the issue was raised in Egypt’s Shura Council, parliament’s upper house (currently endowed with legislative powers). Speaking before the council, Salafist Nour Party representative Tharwat Attallah declared that Shia-Muslims were “more dangerous than naked women.”

“They pose a danger to Egypt’s national security,” he said. “Egyptians might be deceived into [converting to] Shiism, giving Shia ideology a chance to spread in Egypt.”

Attallah also called on the government to “limit” Egypt’s diplomatic relationship with Tehran, in line with the policies of the ousted Mubarak regime.

Other parliamentarians, however, have downplayed these concerns, maintaining that Iranian tourist groups were not enough to shake the faith of Egypt’s Sunni-Muslim majority.