Welcome to the May edition of the tourism industry newsletter.
I again need to reiterate that the feedback is really appreciated. We can only improve on the publication that is really your mouthpiece with all these positive feedback we are getting.  Please feel free to use our newsletter for that purpose also.
May sees us riding the wave still as far as visitor arrival numbers go. In the present state of world economies, this is positive news. And as serious industry players we say thank you to the authorities for maintaining the visibility of our islands in the four corners of the world. Today’s success is based on how visible we are, and remain as a destination. Seychelles has managed this well and the STB continues to capitalize on the press to compensate for lack of advertising budget.  This has been possible through personal contacts and by their Friends of Seychelles Press Club.
Hong Kong has come and we are all glued to the weekly arrival figures to see the increases from China. Get yourselves a copy of the Official Statistics, and like me scrutinize these weekly arrival figures. Would three direct flights to Paris be more profitable for Seychelles instead of three flights to Hong Kong via Abu Dhabi? This answer you can discuss amongst your colleagues. We need the Ministers of Transport, Mr Morgan and the Minister of Tourism, Mr St.Ange to be on their knees imploring airlines to look at Seychelles for a direct NON STOP flight from Europe. The same is for Captain Savy and Mr Gilbert Faure of the SCAA. The sooner this is done the better we shall fare as a tourism destination.
This needs to be done before the opening of the Savoy at Beau Vallon and ahead of the Kashoghi land development and the Nouvelle Vallee Hotel. These are three Beau Vallon / Bel Ombre Hotels that will be opening one after the other then we shall have the former Qatar Development at Anse a La Mouche and the Emirates development at Cap Ternay. If that is not cause for the Ministers to be on their knees begging airlines to start direct NON STOP flights from Europe to Seychelles, then the small home grown hoteliers will be dying a natural death with their small hotels and all their creole charm that goes with it. It is clear that unless the Minister of Finance and even the President himself enter this discussion, we are set to remain stuck with traffic through the Middle East Hubs and in so doing offering longer travelling times to Seychelles with a stop many of our tourists just do not want when Mauritius next door is offering direct NON STOP overnight flights.

The time has come for Seychelles to relook at the management of its environment. This remains one of the attractions we all sell with pride, but have we not lost focus? The state of Victoria is discussed everywhere. Just look at the state of the drains running through Victoria and the rats that come with them. The broken bottles on most beaches is today causing problems and echoing the statement that our beaches are just not safe anymore. Not safe because of the increasing number of thefts on or around the beaches, and now not safe because our visitors on Mahe and Praslin are getting injured by broken bottles, and some of these injuries resulting with tourists checking out of our hotels and flying out from Seychelles. This situation has been getting worse year after year and today our environment we all used to pride ourselves about, is fast deteriorating.   Independence House used to be a part of town where many tourists would sit as they waited for the time to move to the jetty to go to Praslin, or to the Marine Charter for an excursion. This area is virtually a no sit area because you may well receive a ‘poo’ from the colony of resident pigeons. The Minister of Environment, Prof Payet should take urgent action on the explosion of rats and pigeons in Victoria and also dogs rampant everywhere.
Marketing of Seychelles is so important for every single Seychellois. Marketing brings us tourists, but are we approaching it through coordinated approach? We have heard of a new office in Brazil and a new Manager for London. We have requested for the appointment of a Director for Marketing, and even proposed an acceptable candidate, but this appointment is yet to materialize as the year is running away with us.
Our self-imposed industry challenges are still with us. Our Association is getting more and more pressure from hotels, large and small who just cannot find acceptable local staff to fill all their vacancies. We have changed a system that worked and replaced it with a bureaucratic procedure going against all rules of ease of doing business. Last week we met the Industry players on Praslin and La Digue and this topic was aired with anger, this we understand and we cannot blame anyone fighting to save their property’s approach to professionalism as competition intensifies here and in the region for the same clients.  We beg the Minister for Employment, to attend some of these public meetings in the future and hear the anger of small Seychellois entrepreneurs.
As for the Minister of Planning and Land Use, we are worried that the Seychelles we know will be no more. His Ministry has been labeled as being responsible for scarring our countryside with everything unneeded and constructions that are out of place. Mountain sides and hill tops, beach side properties and even mangrove areas all being hit. Encouraging Seychellois to be involved in their tourism industry should be top of the priority list. When we hear the Minister for Tourism say that Seychellois should claim back their industry for the consolidation of our country’s tourism industry for the long term, we cannot help but say, please speak to your colleague Minister St. Ange!
Voila the state of our tourism industry as we get close to mid-2013. Everything can change for the better if the Ministers can think Seychelles first instead of Ministries, first.
Enjoy the read,
Louis D’Offay
Chairman SHTA


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