The Seychelles has had all of their 3 presidents hold the portfolio for tourism, the industry that remains the pillar of these islands’ economy. An editorial article entitled: “Up and On it is for the Seychelles Tourism industry once the portfolio of Presidents Mancham, Rene and Michel respectively,” VIOAS (Voice of the Indian Ocean) covers the current situation of these mid-ocean paradise island’s tourism industry.
The editorial states: “Seychelles tourism continues to show resilience in the face of the depression in its core markets, and visitor arrival figures for year to date 2012 show a 7% increase over the same period in 2011. Since the launch in earnest of the Seychelles tourism industry after the official opening in 1972 of the Seychelles International Airport by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 11, the island’s tourism industry has moved steadily to become the pillar of the Seychelles economy. Sir James R. Mancham is credited to have pioneered the launch of the Seychelles tourism industry in the 70s, and the importance of tourism for the islands prompted all 3 heads of state to hold on to that portfolio at one time or another. Presidents James R. Mancham, France Albert Rene, and James Alix Michel have all 3 kept tourism under their office during the crucial stages in the industry’s development. Today it is Minister Alain St.Ange, the known and experienced tourism personality of Seychelles, who leads the Ministry of Tourism and Culture and it is widely accepted that he has succeeded where many before him have failed
“Seychelles is not unique as a destination offering sun, sea, and sand but Seychelles is unique in the diversity of islands it offers, in the melting pot of cultures that make the Seychellois people and in the natural beauty it has been blessed with. It is this that has prompted President James Michel to launch the ‘Seychelles Brand’ of tourism as his vision when he held the tourism portfolio with Alain St.Ange as the then CEO of the Tourism Board. It was under the guidelines of this new brand of tourism that the statement was made for Seychelles to claim back its industry. This was crucial and will remain vital for the long-term consolidation of the island’s tourism industry. The decision of getting more Seychellois involved in their industry will also remain a positive step forward as the policy of inclusion of the Seychellois will ensure that the nation as a whole defends and protects their industry that remains the pillar of their economy. It is against this background that many young Seychellois have been posted all over the world as tourism or trade attaches to market and promote Seychelles.
“Today, the Seychelles’ principal traditional markets of France, Italy, and the UK continue to struggle economically with the predictable knock-on effect on consumer spending on foreign holidays. This economic downturn, combined with the cessation of direct services by Air Seychelles to European destinations has served to compound negative growth in these regions, and has obliged the Tourism Board to intensify their policy to diversity their markets. This has pushed the Tourism Board to look to other areas of the world to sustain growth in the tourism industry, which continues and which will continue, to be one of the main pillars of the economy. The drive for diversification for Seychelles has taken several directions, all of which have been based on a raising of Seychelles’ profile abroad. One typical way that the islands have recently achieved this is by attending the Routes European airline routing conference in Berlin in October 2011. Routes focuses entirely on aviation route development, and the company’s portfolio includes events, media, and online businesses. It is considered as the most important forum for airline routing in the world. The company organizes and operates world-renowned airline and airport networking events through its regional and World Route Development Forums. They are held in key markets throughout the year in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Americas, and the CIS.
“Routes Europe was attended by a Seychelles delegation led by the Minister for Tourism and Culture, Alain St.Ange; the CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board, Elsia Grandcourt; Consultant and Copywriter, Glynn Burridge; the former head of Seychelles Aviation, Conrad Benoiton; and a delegation from the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority led by its CEO, Gilbert Faure. As a result of Seychelles’ participation in Routes Europe, Seychelles bid to hold the African component of Routes and won the tender. Routes Africa took place in Seychelles between July 8-10, 2012, co-hosted by the Seychelles Tourism Board and Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority, at the Seychelles Kempinski Resort with record attendance for a Routes event. This prestigious event has helped raise the profile of Seychelles via international media, as well as providing all delegates with the possibility of networking with the representatives of regional airlines and airports. At exactly the same time, Seychelles hosted the board meeting of RETOSA, the Regional Tourism Association of Southern African countries, which is a concept that brings together the countries of the Southern part of Africa – Angola, Botswana, DR Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe - to offer a unique opportunity to discover the natural wonders and splendours of the region – the infinite contrasts of scenery, climate, color, traditions, and culture - the spirit of Africa. The meeting was held on Wednesday, July11.
“Tripling up on conferences, Seychelles also hosted the International Council for Tourism Partners (ICTP), and the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands Ministers Meeting during the same time. The International Council of Tourism Partners is a grassroots travel and tourism coalition of global destinations committed to quality services and green growth. ICTP helps member destinations and their stakeholders share quality and green opportunities including tools and resources, access to funding, education, and marketing support. The membership of the newly-formed ICTP continues to grow, and Seychelles’ hosting of the event has again helped to create a much-needed buzz about the islands as a foundation for further expansion and diversification of its marketing campaigns. The Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands on its part is the regrouping of the 6 islands of the Indian Ocean: Comoros, La Reunion, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mayotte, and Seychelles. The Vanilla Islands is now constituted as a fully-fledged organization with the Seychelles Minister St.Ange as its first President.
“Considerable energy is being spent by Seychelles in capturing markets in the Far East where successive visits by President James Michel to China and to South Korea have generated considerable interest and momentum in opening these markets up to tourism. Philippe Le Gall, Seychelles’ Ambassador to China, and Seychelles’ Honorary Consul to South Korea, Mr. Jeong, have both worked tirelessly in this direction, cementing the friendly ties that bind these countries to Seychelles and creating activities to generate interest in Seychelles as a tourist destination among Chinese and South Korean travelers. Visitor numbers from this potentially huge market are already showing a marked increase over last year with by more than 100%. In one example of how interest in Seychelles is growing, 19 couples arrived in Seychelles on June 14, 2012 for a special wedding and honeymoon to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the first Chinese settlers in Seychelles. The 19 brides and grooms were accompanied by a contingent of 35 journalists and several prominent businessmen from mainland China and Taiwan. Seychelles has so far attended the COTTM Trade Fair in April and Hong Kong’s ITE Fair in 2012. Seychelles has also been active in South Korea where Seychelles’ Honorary Consul, the tireless Mr. Dong Chan Jeong, is the organizer of the annual Eco-Friendly Seychelles Marathon that takes place on Mahé every February, as well as special Korean gastronomy soirées and fashion shows.
“The South African market is proving to be another strong performer with arrival figures for 2012 showing an 8% increase over last year as Air Seychelles continues to service the destination with 2 weekly frequencies, soon to increase to 4. Seychelles is also popular with Russian holiday-goers with the latest figures for 2012 showing a 62% rise over the same period last year. Arrivals from the Middle East have been greatly boosted by Emirates, Qatar, and Etihad all operating to Seychelles, together creating the kind of air access to the islands that means that Seychelles is now effectively ‘one stop from any-where on the planet.’ Visitor arrival figures from the region are currently showing a 34% increase. Ethiopian Airways, operating from its hub in Addis Ababa is also increasing the airlift to the islands with 4 weekly flights.
“Another, as yet untapped, source of potential visitors to the islands lies in South America where the Seychelles brand has a strong following and with Etihad and Air Seychelles now in partnership, the former’s stated intention to commerce services to the region in 2013 should help boost South American arrival figures considerably.
“The Seychelles Tourism Board is also looking to diversify its niche markets at home and to increase the number of its international events according to the precepts of the ‘Seychelles Brand of Tourism’ that recognizes that today’s travelers are no longer content to just soak up the sun, sea, and sand but are rather seeking authentic experiences. This had led Seychelles down the road of events tourism that not only creates a greater range of attractions for visitors to enjoy but also helps to increase the visitor spend and, most importantly, encourages the local population to better understand, support, and participate in their tourism industry.
“It is in response to this demand that the Tourism Board and partners put its energies into creating the ‘Carnaval International de Victoria’ in March 2011, comprising 3 days of festivities and the representation of over 20 foreign floats in a procession of more than 60. Following on from the success of the first carnival, Seychelles hosted the second edition between March 2-4, 2012, which saw the participation of some 26 foreign floats in an event which attracted some major performing artists from the USA, as well as top foreign dignitaries for the 3-day extravaganza. Another exciting new event on the horizon has been the 2012 edition of the Miss Seychelles Beauty Pageant, a totally revamped and up-scaled competition that took place in July 28 under the banner, ‘Miss Seychelles… another world 2012.’ Similar to the carnival, this new, high-profile competition has been used to raise the profile of Seychelles on the international scene with the islands’ newly-crowned beauty queen, Sherlyn Furneau, now traveling to the Miss World Beauty Pageant in China, as well as to major international promotions and trade fairs as part of the Seychelles delegation, so fulfilling her role as an ambassadress for the islands. Other events include February’s Eco-Healing Marathon; August’s La Fete La Digue; the Seychelles Ball, which takes place in September; the perennial Festival Kreol in October; and November’s SUBIOS – the Festival of the Sea.”
“Tourism is now highly organic in nature,” commented Minister Alain St.Ange, who now heads both tourism and culture, “and we must avoid all costs clinging to dangerous static preconceptions, but rather continue to position ourselves to be able to respond to new situations and opportunities as, where, and when they arise.”