"Is It Real St. Ange?"
Tourism arrivals by midnight, December 31, 2013, were quoted as an equally record-breaking number, 230.272 or up by 10.7 percent on a year-on-year basis according to figures released at the same time by the Seychelles National Bureau of Statistics.
Speaking after the figures were released, Minister Alain , the Minister responsible for Tourism and Culture, said that he was extending his congratulations to the Seychelles Tourism Board for a job well done and then went on to say: “The strategy in place for marketing Seychelles was working. The annual Marketing Meeting where the industry's private sector and the government sit together to plan the year ahead was bringing the results we all wanted and expected. The net has again been dragged to the beach at Beau Vallon and it was full of fish for those interested to come out and collect their share.
“As a country we are often confused with regards to the yield derived from tourism. Government does not set hotel rates, this is done by the respective establishments, and they charge depending on what they feel they can charge when faced by competition, not here but in the region and in the world at large. We have to work to reinvest, to upgrade so as to get a better rate, yes, but at the same time we need to think outside the box and get more activities and facilities for our visitors to use and appreciate. We need to provide more for them to do so they are able to spend. The State will be proactive facilitators, but it is the private sector that now needs to grab opportunities that are up for grab and in so doing increase the country's yield from tourism.”
When setting targets for 2013 a year ago, the archipelago’s tourism gurus were cautious in their estimates, projecting a growth of about 4 percent over 2012, but as the year went on, it became evident that these projections would be outpaced by strong demand for the Seychelles, boosted by an extraordinary campaign around the world where the islands are today known as one of the world’s most desirable destinations, stimulating demand and adding over 22,000 visitors to the previous arrival record set in 2012.
Constant engagement with the global travel media, and regular high-ranking sales and marketing missions to existing, emerging, and new markets, supported by national airline, Air Seychelles, and their partner, Etihad, and, of course, Emirates, which flies 12 times a week to Mahe, have made this possible.
Wrote another source only moments after the results were published and sent to this correspondent: “I think Seychelles has done a remarkable job to set new revenue and arrival records at the end of last year. Expectations are high that this trend continues in 2014 and the following years. But as the minister said, this is not the time to sit back and rest on our laurels. This is the time to be more determined than ever before to do better. The reorganization of the tourism public sector, the establishment of a professional events agency, the merging under one roof of culture and tourism-related departments and bodies, will allow STB [Seychelles Tourism Board] to concentrate on their main function, marketing. All other functions will in one way or another support this.
“STB will this year go to all the key trade fairs but over and above do sales missions together with our national airline and other airlines to grow traffic. Our calendar of events now includes many different kinds of festivals, and our membership in the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands organization will also help to promote our events but also the events of our partner islands. Our No Visa policy will continue; our doors are open for people from around the world, but I specially mention our fellow Africans from the mainland, who do not need to go through a great deal of bureaucracy to visit Mahe, Praslin, La Digue, and the other islands. We will have new sales collaterals, a new destination DVD is coming out, and we will continue to work with airlines, tour operators, travel agents, and, of course, the media to continue what you always call our juggernaut.”
Congratulations to the entire Seychelles tourism industry, and public and private sectors, for these astonishing results and to the Central Bank of Seychelles and the National Bureau of Statistics for excelling and producing these figures within days of ending 2013 - something only a very few other countries are able to do.