Ste Ange, The Stifling Bureaucrat
Ahead of Seychelles Tourism Board mid-year marketing meeting, due to be held on 16th July, Seychelles Tourism Board has the visitor arrivals statistics under the microscope. A comprehensive picture of Seychelles visitor arrivals and their impact on the economy can only be relevant if based on factual and up-to-date information. The Seychelles Tourism Board has waited for the release of Seychelles tourism arrival figures for the week ending 29th June 2014, in order to evaluate the trend and draw a realistic picture of the state of Seychelles’ tourism industry.
The Seychelles Tourism Board has acknowledged that tourism arrivals from beginning of the year to date is but one percent below that of the same period in 2013. This represents a reduction of less than 2000 tourists: 110,494 as compared to 111,814 the previous year.
The month of June 2014, claimed the Seychelles Tourism Board, was a relatively hard month showing a decrease of 6% on its European market; 5 % in Africa and 7 % in the United Arab Emirates compared to the same period in 2013. The drop in visitor arrivals from Seychelles Tourism Board’s core markets for two consecutive years is no surprise to the Tourism Board, due to a lack of direct flights to Seychelles from those destinations which has impacted negatively on the attractiveness of Seychelles as a vacation choice.
The Seychelles Tourism Board has taken note of these shortfalls and remains conscious of the challenges connected with re-positioning Seychelles in its core markets. With the announcement of Air Seychelles’ inaugural flight to Paris and with the promise of seats allocated to Seychelles, the Seychelles Tourism Board has forecast a positive trend in tourism arrivals from the European market for the coming three months.
The Seychelles Tourism Board believes the positive growth can only be achieved if foreign tour operators selling Seychelles as a tourism destination are allocated seats for Seychelles on this code share agreement flight between Air Seychelles and Etihad. Despite the decrease of France (-13%), United Kingdom & Eire (-5%), Italy (-10%) and Russia (-1%), Germany on the other hand has recorded an increase of 2%. This market is doing well because it still has a direct flight to Seychelles with the weekly Condor flight, and also because of Seychelles Tourism Office’s aggressive marketing, especially in the city of Hamburg. Hamburg, one of the most affluent cities in Europe, is a good indicator for Seychelles in terms of its spending power, contributing immensely to beefing up the figure of the country’s tourism earnings, now reaching more than 8 million dollars.
The impact of Qatar’s strategic decision to pull out of the Seychelles route is, today, felt more than ever within the United Arab Emirates which have registered a decrease of 7% in market share.
The Seychelles Tourism Board is also faced with the additional challenge of maintaining positive growth in its tourism arrivals from Asia (increased by 21%), China 117 %, America 16% and Oceania 15%. China, one of Seychelles vibrant, new markets is also beginning to influence the country’s tourism earnings. Sherin Naiken, Chief Executive Officer of the Seychelles Tourism Board sent a positive message of the healthy state of the country’s tourism industry.
“We are happy to see an increase in the country’s spending trend for the first half of the year despite a minus one in the visitor arrivals. One of our strategies is to target specific markets which we believe have a high market share of spending power for the country. It is true we’ve gone through bad times, because of a lack of direct flights, Qatar Airways and Air Austral pulling its direct flights and Emirates halving the number of its flights to Seychelles. It’s a positive sign we’re still down to minus one, as it sends out a strong message that despite challenges we’ve been able to drive our marketing strategies.’’
Seychelles Tourism Board is also cautious regarding its assessment of its secondary markets, indicating that Reunion market which for the past years has not recorded a positive growth (-67%) could eventually take a turn for the better. The reopening of the Reunion-Seychelles route with the commencement of Air Austral’s direct commercial flights on 23rd of June is sure to send out a strong message that the number of visitors from the Indian Ocean Island to Seychelles will gradually pick up.
Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles Minister for Tourism and Culture said “despite much effort to drive one of Seychelles main pillars of the economy to the front line, the country must be aware more than ever before, that with the advancement in technology, Seychelles is very visible on social media”. Minister St.Ange said using social media to publish any bad news about Seychelles to the world is jeopardizing efforts to build a globally positive image of the country.
Minister St.Ange said that as a country we should learn to discuss our problems in appropriate forums instead of publicizing them openly on the web.