Seychelles tourism looks back over another positive year

Published on : Tuesday, December 31, 2013

seychelles2“We managed the tourism industry with passion. The style of leadership we believe in showed depth, uniqueness and an island style for Seychelles,” Minister St.Ange, Minister responsible for Tourism and Culture in Seychelles, said in reply to a question by foreign press on the state of Seychelles tourism. As 2013 winds to a close, Seychelles as a whole has an opportunity to look back over yet another good year for tourism. At home, Seychelles continues to conduct a significant reorganization of how the tourism infrastructure works, and by the time that the Tourism Board moves to its new offices in Victoria sometime during the first quarter of the year, the country shall be looking at operations more focused on marketing and filling the knowledge gap about the islands as a tourism destination. This will be greatly aided by a revamped suite of collaterals: a new tourism website and corporate site, brand new destination video and supporting niche market videos, and viral films and a refreshed collection of tourism brochures. Tourist numbers continue to rise and official tourism arrival statistics issued by the National Bureau of Statistics have stated that by the end of November 2013, 3,964 tourists arrived in Seychelles, marking the figure at 206,886 visitors for the year up to November. These figures show a 12% increase from the 185,094 record number of visitors in 2012. The strategy of concentrating increased efforts in the emerging markets in response to the economic recession that continues to hang over traditional European markets is paying off, with China recording a respective 75% increase above 2012. Russia, Germany, and France have helped to increase the number of Seychelles’ visitor arrivals throughout the year with an increased figure of 40% in total. The Tourism Board moved to diversify, but at the same time maintained the visibility of the islands in its main traditional markets in Europe, especially in the markets where it has invested so much for so many years and the market that today knows Seychelles well and understands the country. Furthermore, visitors from America have increased by 8% followed by a 41% increase of visitors from Oceania. Needless to say, the African market follows suit with an increase of 8% along with a 10% increase in South African visitors. Not only has the visitor numbers increased across the markets, but the Seychelles Tourism Board is preparing for a strengthened presence in such new emerging markets as India, Scandinavia, and South Korea to name a few. Seychelles sees this as a vindication of its policies and strategies aimed at diversifying the sources of its tourist arrivals which is paying handsome dividends. Air access to Seychelles continues to evolve, and new airline partners such as Mihin Lanka are strengthening its ties with the east while the confirmed return of Air Austral starting June 23, 2014 will bring back, especially for home-grown smaller establishments, a market lost since the departure of non-stop direct flights from La Reunion. Seychelles is and will remain a mid-ocean island destination and will have to continue to work closely with all its airline partners in order to offer the most appropriate routes at the most advantageous prices to its potential visitors. As the islands prepare for the 4th edition of the Carnaval International de Victoria in April 2014, Seychelles continues to refine its raft of international events that includes the Eco-Friendly Marathon; Miss Seychelles Beauty Pageant; LaFet La Digue; the Tourism Ball; the Festival Kreol; the FetAfrik; SUBIOS, the Seychelles Festival of the Sea; La Francophonie Celebrations and a French Day; the Commonwealth Celebrations and a British Day; the Seychelles-India Day; the end-of-year Christmas with the stars musical show; and now in January, the Seychelles-China Day; as well as a proposed Praslin Day from 2014 to create added attractions for tourists to enjoy. Seychelles has moved from just selling itself as only a sun, sea, and sand holiday destination even though it probably has the best in this category of holiday options, but many destinations are also pitching these same selling points. It moved, when the Seychelles Brand of Tourism was launched to make its unique culture, and in so doing its people, the base of its unique selling points. The country’s culture has its own DNA, and its people is Seychelles, and they have Seychelles at heart. Seychelles tourism continues to enjoy fruitful relationships and partnerships with other western Indian Ocean nations such as La Reunion, not only in co-hosting the carnival but also looking at longer-term prospects for regional tourism such as the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands and the East3Route tourism initiative with partners Swaziland, Mozambique, and Kwazulu Natal of South Africa. Together with the private sector, Seychelles government has worked as a team, and it has delivered for Seychelles. Now the country needs to further consolidate its achievements. One major challenge still to be worked on together is to overcome the yield received by the country from tourism, the industry that remains the pillar of the Seychelles economy. Though the hotel charges remain very much a private-sector controlled environment, and those who are reinvesting in their properties and upgrading their properties will be able to justify rate increases, the country needs to move to encourage new activities and facilities that can help generate more income for the country. Such facilities can include a bird park, an aquarium, and underwater restaurant, floating restaurants, and more. Hotels are charging what they feel they can based on the competition they face, not in Seychelles only, but also in competing destinations. This is why the country needs to be innovative as a country in order to increase its tourism yield. The Tourism Board, under the direction of Sherin Renaud and ably assisted by Nathalie Didon, has received the big lines to follow from the annual November Marketing Meeting where the private sector tourism trade joins the government to analyze performance and discuss together the future. The Tourism Board has now also welcomed Rosemarie Hoareau, the private-sector nominated Director of Marketing, whose responsibility it is for continuously liaising with the industry on plans, actions, and on the way forward. One such move will be the appointment of a Senior Marketing Executive to help the small Seychellois hotel owners with their marketing and sales actions to ensure they are better able to face the increased competition of the tourism world. The Tourism Board will continue to make noise in the four corners of the world to ensure Seychelles remains visible and relevant as a tourism destination. Seychelles needs to ensure that what it says in its marketing and sales initiatives will be delivered 365 days of the years for all its visitors. Everyone must take their responsibility to ensure Seychelles remains the dream holiday destination. Anne Lafortune, the PS for Tourism, is now finalizing details to absorb within the Ministry all policy and administrative departments previously attached to the Tourism Board. These will also include the inspectorates for standards and licensing. Last but not least are the achievements of the Seychelles Tourism Academy, which is currently in the process of being redeveloped with plans to re-open early in 2014. The Seychelles Tourism Academy still holds regional and international partners, especially Shannon College in Ireland, but in a bid to ensure a competent and professional tourism workforce for Seychelles, there has also been recent signed agreements with Shanghai and Hebei Province to ensure that it continues to provide high standards of training for students wishing to work in Seychelles’ tourism industry. As Seychelles now readies itself to meet the challenges of 2014, it must not rest on its laurels but continue to ensure that its tourism products are of the highest standard and also affordable. Today’s international tourism arena is highly competitive, and Seychelles must do all in its power to make sure that the attributes it is marketing matches its descriptions in its brochures and films; that its environment remains clean and appealing; that its Creole charm lives up to its name, and that the prices being charge do not turn people away, because these are the pillars upon which its tourism industry is built and its future prosperity depends. Source:- Seychelles Tourism

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