The Seychelles Minister responsible for Tourism, Alain St.Ange, met last week with prominent Ethiopian businessman and hotelier, Tadiwos Belete, as well as Ethiopian Airlines’ Regional Manager in Seychelles Bethlehem KinfeGebriel. Also in attendance were Mason Travel’s Marlon Naiken and Kathy Mason.
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss closer cooperation between the tourism sectors of Ethiopia and Seychelles, and to formulate strategies to develop a beneficial working relationship between both country’s industry players.
Key strategies that emerged focus on not only promoting tourism between the two countries, but also cooperation on drawing international tourists to both nations. This will see Mason’s Travel (among others), the Ministry of Tourism and Culture and the Seychelles Tourism Board working closely with Ethiopian-based destination management company ET-Holidays, resort chain Kuriftu Resorts and Spa, as well as Ethiopian Airlines to implement the proposals set forth in the meeting.
Mr. Belete will be hosting a delegation of Seychellois tourism representatives next month, which will include Creole chefs as well as traditional musicians and dancers. In an opening ceremony at one of Mr. Belete’s resorts, international ambassadors, diplomats, and top Ethiopian businessman will be invited to sample Creole cuisine and culture at the black-tie event, and have the opportunity to meet with the Seychelles’ tourism representatives. The Creole chef’s will then stay on in Mr. Belete’s premium “Diplomat Restaurant” in Addis Ababa, where he will be hosting a two month Seychelles/Creole theme to further promote the country.
Addis Ababa has the third largest diplomatic community in the world, as well as a growing middle and business class with the means and need for vacation travel. Being a premium destination, which is only a three-and-a-half-hour flight away, Seychelles is in a prime position to benefit from this market.
Another key strategy that was proposed was to work in cooperation on a bigger scale at an international level. With Ethiopian Airlines’ 67 international destinations now linked to Seychelles through the four-times-a-week Mahe to Addis Ababa flight; the potential is there not only to pioneer new markets, but also to re-establish markets that were lost with the reshuffling of Air Seychelles earlier this year. For example, the Seychelles has lost a large number of European Jewish travelers that will not travel through the Middle-East, and there is potential to reclaim that market by now offering them an alternative.
Discussions also explored the potential for the parties involved to sell both countries as a package, offering tourists an opportunity to visit both Ethiopia and Seychelles through an affordable and convenient set of tours.
This initial meeting, of which TODAY was in attendance, holds much promise for the Seychelles tourism industry. The strategies discussed, if implemented, will greatly benefit the industry and ultimately the economy.
Speaking to TODAY after the meeting, Minister St.Ange expressed his enthusiasm and optimism for the potential of further cooperation between the Seychelles and Ethiopian tourism sectors.