Seychelles’ tourism operators have for the past few days been meeting with the country’s Minister responsible for Tourism and Culture, Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles Tourism Board, and members of the Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association (SHTA) in a series of meetings.
The meetings have been organized by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, the Seychelles Tourism Board, and the SHTA. The meetings have been taking place on the main three islands of Seychelles: Mahe, Praslin, and La Digue.
The first two meetings took place over the island of Mahé last week that kick-started on Thursday, September 6, with tourism trade members of the southern and western region of Mahe, followed the next day with those of east, central, and north of the island.
This next two days, the meetings will take place on Praslin island and La Digue island.
The meeting is being chaired by Minister Alain St.Ange himself and conducted alongside the heads of the Seychelles Tourism Board, Chief Executive Elsia Grandcourt, Vice Chairman of the Hospitality&Tourism Association Daniella Payet-Alis, and Freddy Karkaria who is the Chairperson of the Association’s Marketing Committee.
This scheduled four-day meeting has so far led to some vital discussions between all those present on the way forward for Seychelles’ tourism industry, which remains key to the country’s economy.
In the meetings, the Minister for Tourism and Culture, Alain St.Ange, has been echoing the importance of the tourism industry for Seychelles, as well as looking at the role of people, with emphasis on trade players and culture in tourism.
“For tourism the lead people we need and value is you, the tourism trade players,” said Minister St.Ange in thanking all the Seychelles tourism operators who have been taking the time to be present at the meetings.
“It is important to appreciate that tourism as an industry can be promoted to or can be destroyed by every single person… or destroyed by each and everyone one of us in Seychelles,” says Minister St.Ange in noting that tourism concerns everyone.
In highlighting the need to work harder in order to achieve greater visitor numbers, Minister St.Ange also pointed out on the importance of continuously working together.
“Together, we must keep our eyes on ever-changing consumer preferences, we must continue to diversify our products, maintain excellent service, innovate our distribution channels, and we must ensure that we continue to deliver value for money,” the Minister said.
“We will be increasing spending on promoting our destination in Africa, India, China, and the Americas over the next three years alone, and will ensure a significant presence in each of these target markets,” Minister St.Ange said as he outlined the country’s marketing plan.
We will aggressively defend our core markets in Europe through our campaigns and by partnering with our trade partners to keep Seychelles on top-of-mind, accessible, and affordable, added Minister St.Ange.
Touching on sustainable tourism, Minister St.Ange called on trade partners to be part of the green economic revolution, saying, “Walk with us to transform the sector, to reduce its carbon and water footprint, to improve sustainability practices, and to scale up sustainable tourism certification and to create green jobs.”
He also highlighted the need to cooperate with regional players against whom Seychelles also competes.
“’Coopetition’ is the name of the new game. Competition brings out the best in all of us, but cooperation is what is urgently needed, especially in our region and on the African continent, where we have to work together to increase our visibility and that of our region to international travel and tourism,” remarked Minister St.Ange.
The Vice Chairman of the industry’s association, Mrs. Daniella Payet-Alis, on her part outlined the association’s objectives and touched on the work they have undertaken, as well as the challenges facing the industry.
“Recently the Seychelles Hospitality&Tourism Association met to re-look at its own vision,” explained Mrs. Payet-Alis, adding: “Today we are a body appointed on many government boards, and we need to be that body that can truly rise to the expectations of members and defend the industry and its members in the responsibilities we now have.”
The main concerns and pre-occupation of the association includes finding ways of continuously filling our hotels, the need to re-enforce the Seychelles presence in Germany - now that it has become the country’s second best performing market - increase in the cost of commodities, and the exclusion of GST or VAT on food and beverage importations, which are all impacting on profits and bottom line.
“Tourism promotion and marketing is a partnership, therefore, the active participation of the travel trade and the companies which operate within or on the periphery of the industry is very important to the success of Seychelles as a destination,” reiterated Mrs. Payet-Alis.
Expanding on the association’s objectives, Mrs. Payet-Alis stressed on the need for the association and its members to “strengthen its mechanism and put various tools in place to support the country’s intensive marketing agenda.”
“We have to come out with an image and a message that best projects the essence of the country’s attributes and attractions to potential buyers and gives the travel trade in our existing markets fresh confidence to help us to continue to promote and sell Seychelles,” she explained.
She added that they need, together with the Tourism Board, strong teams and structures that would respond efficiently and quickly to market changes and demands.
The tourism sector needs to create more added-value services, relook at the Seychelles presence at most important trade fairs and discuss new arenas to work with travel trade or to develop new programs, and to assess the activities of competition, as well as continuously developing the country’s niche markets, noted Mrs. Payet-Alis.
She is also inviting all those who make up the tourism trade to join in the industry’s association so as to face today’s challenges of tourism collectively.
Following the address by Minister St.Ange and that of Mrs. Payet-Alis, members of the tourism trade attending the meeting had the opportunity to bring forward their concerns and suggestions on the way forward for the island’s tourism industry and to ask questions freely from the floor.