Seychelles Loses Leadership of Tourism Icon
In a SHTA meeting last week, at the end of another annual general meeting, to everyone’s astonishment and dismay, Mr. Louis D’Offay, the Chairman for Fifteen (15) years, announced his resignation in the middle of his mandate. Mr. D’Offay had served only One (1)year of his Two (2) year mandate, after recently being re-elected with the full backing of the Tourism Trade Association.
Managing ChaosI have worked under the leadership of Mr. D’Offay for numerous years at SHTA. I am personally sadden by his departure, and it leaves a big void in the Tourism Industry. The Trade will need a voice, as it fights off the encroachment of Government on to business rights. I have personally witnessed for years, the SHTA battling for the rights of the Tourism Industry, and their unrelenting effort to educate the government on Tourism and how bad decisions, affect the Trade adversely.
At times, dealing with government looked like a bad roller coaster ride, with few breaks, few moments to relish, if any. Victories are short- lived as Government of Seychelles under PL are opportunistic partners, that take advantage of the Trade when it suits them. PL break their word when it suits them, they break their own agreements, TIA for example, impose new taxes without warning (VAT), increase salaries without warning when they are losing support, cut flights abruptly (Air Seychelles) , to the detriment of travel agents and other partners overseas.
Drawing from my business experience, the government’s handling of Tourism is a bit like running a mad house, but the managers are the mad ones, not the patients. The patients are confined to the mad house, to give the managers something to do and something to play with.
Mr. D’Offay’s patience and foresight will be missed. His common man touch is second to none. His experience is second to none, and his integrity to do what is in the interest of the Seychelles Tourism Industry is second to none.
Tourism Needs Real Partners Not Fake Partners
Seychelles Tourism Industry needs real partners in the future. For years, the polite language of calling government partners to implore them to reasonableness has been implemented with limited success and a lot of backtracking and face slapping along the way.
The time has come for PL to evolve into serious partners. On the other hand, the Tourism Trade leadership must hold itself out as a serious industry like any other.
When PL government is adamant to trample Tourism Industry rights, after all dialogue is exhausted, as a serious industry, it must not be afraid to challenge violations of rights that affect the Trade in the Hundreds of Millions of Rupees collectively, before the Courts of Seychelles. That is what the Constitution of Seychelles is for, and that is what the Courts of Seychelles is for. Today, the Court system is more independent then ever in Seychelles history.
Any Industry that sits on its rights, calls a government a close partner, while it is being beaten over the head, is not taking itself seriously and the Seychelles government will not take the Industry serious and give it the respect it deserves.
It is a bit like the bull that pulls the karts on La Digue that never raises a fuss whether or not it has food or water. The time to stop abusing this Industry and disrespecting it’s leadership is long overdue.
There has never been any room for cowards in Seychelles Tourism. The first risk takers like Mr. D’Offay, were brave men and women who invested in a one party state to jump start private sector involvement in Tourism. They were not opportunist that saw Seychelles doing well, and jumped on board, to make an easy living.
As a new generation takes the helm and tries to fill these big empty shoes left by Mr. D’Offay, they will have to assess their inner self individually to decide: who will lead us, a back slapper opportunist, or a true leader of the Trade with courage at his/her back ?
Thank you Mr. D’Offay for all you did for the Trade and all you tried to do for the Trade. I slept at night well, knowing you would always fight for the Trade. Now, I am not so sure, I will sleep so well in the coming years.
Seychelles Investor and Hotelier