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Seychelles Ministry of Tourism and Culture calls for multi-sectarian meeting to look at issues affecting tourism industry

Seychelles Ministry of Tourism and Culture calls for multi-sectarian meeting to look at issues affecting tourism industry (Forimmediaterelease.net) The Seychelles Ministry of Tourism and Culture has echoed for a multi-sectarian meeting with government authorities, destination management companies, tourism establishments, and airline companies to discuss pertinent issues raised in its series of door-to-door meetings with these respective trade partners in the tourism industry. Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles Minister for Tourism and Culture, believes that this cohesive approach is pivotal to get everyone in a roundtable discussion to look and assess issues raised by destination management companies, tourism establishments, and airlines touching different ministries such as finance, land use and habitat, environment, employment, transport, and others.

“For the tourism industry to continue to move forward, it is today more important than ever before to have a round-table discussion between the private sector and a cross-section of other ministries. Many issues raised in the door-to-door visits cannot be solved by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture alone. The private sector trade recognizes the need for this meeting, so that they can meet with the ministries concerned and together look at some issues which are persisting,” Minister St.Ange said.

On Friday, April 11, Minister Alain St.Ange; Anne Lafortune, the Principal Secretary for Tourism; Jennifer Sinon, the Director of Human Resource at the Seychelles Tourism Board; and Sinha Levkovic continued with the ministry`s door-to-door visits at destination management companies and airlines after their initial series of meetings at tourism establishments at Praslin which was followed by one at Emirates Airlines. Mihin Lanka was the first airline company the Minister and his technicians visited last Friday. The ministerial delegation was welcomed by Sandy Kellar, General Manager of Mihin Lanka, and his team. Mihin Lanka started its operation in Seychelles in 2013 with an Airbus A320 and A340.

Sandy Kellar briefed the Minister and his team on the company`s plan to add a third frequency during the course of the year on the Seychelles-Colombo route. The General Manager of Mihin Lanka proudly announced a newly-introduced, twelve-seater business class on its flights from the month of June. Minister St.Ange said that he was happy to hear that Mihin Lanka was growing its passenger numbers and that it was tapping successfully into the Chinese market. Minister St.Ange encouraged the Seychelles Tourism Board to work more closely with Mihin Lanka to further develop the Chinese market for Seychelles. Challenges seen by Mihin Lanka were discussed with Minister St.Ange in the presence of the High Commissioner of Sri Lanka accredited to Seychelles.

The Minister`s next stop last Friday was at Pure Escapes, a travel agency specializing in the former East Bloc market. Besides Russia being Pure Escapes` core market, 40% of its clients are from the Ukraine. Pure Escapes is also venturing into new markets such as Georgia and Azerbaijan.

The Minister then visited Mason`s Travel, Elite Travel, and Creole Travel Services.

Joseph Albert, Creole Travel Services Chairman, described Minister St.Ange`s visit to the DMCs and at Creole Travel Service as historical.

“You`ve made our day, Minister. It`s the first time a Minister of Tourism has set foot in Creole Travel Services to talk with our workers and our management team. We`ve heard a lot of tourism being the country`s prime income earner. Creole Travel Services financially contributes immensely to this economy,” said Joseph Albert, the Chairman of Creole Travel Services.

After this visit, Minister St.Ange visited Air Seychelles` head office at the airport which was the last meeting of the first phase of visits to destination management companies and airlines. At Air Seychelles, Minister St.Ange was welcomed by Manoj Papa, the Chief Executive of Air Seychelles, and his corporate team. Minister St.Ange congratulated Air Seychelles on its brilliant success in recording a second consecutive year of net profitability.

“The Ministry of Tourism and Culture recognizes your company`s success and congratulates you for this brilliant performance. Today, the airline is on solid footing and growing year by year,” said Minister St.Ange. The Minister also thanked Air Seychelles with their partner Etihad for being the partner airline for the Carnaval International de Victoria.

The corporate team of the airline briefed the Minister on the upcoming projects, among which includes the company`s new approach to market the airline and destination in Mauritius and other target markets. The company also briefed the Minister of the program to introduce its new signature dish on its airline - a joint partnership with the island`s hotels and restaurants. The airline desires for hotels to re-look into their packages in the traditional low period.

Pertinent issues that were raised during meetings with destination management companies included an appeal to re-look at the government`s decision to close down fast-track immigration counter services for destination management companies as of June 2014. Destination management companies said the service is vital for its discerning clients. Some destination management companies voiced concerns over their suppliers bypassing the government regulation for transactions in the country to be in local currency only. Minister St.Ange said that anyone transacting in foreign currency was acting “illegally” as it defeats the efforts of the Seychelles government to see transaction in local currency only. The Minister said he will address this concern with the Ministry of Finance.

Withholding tax on marketing, advertising, and promotion was another concern raised by some destination management companies. This was seen as punishing them for going out to market Seychelles as they argued that most of their promotions and marketing are done overseas and not in Seychelles. Destination management companies re-enforced the need for closer working partnerships with hotels, large and small.

The Ministry of Tourism and Culture said at the end of the day`s visit that it believes that the door-to-door visits at airlines and destination management companies was as important as the visit to hotel establishments are.

“It is more than ever important to have this open dialogue with the private sector. This keeps us abreast with how the private sectors work, and gets us to better understand their challenges. During today`s visits, it was clear that everyone wants to work with the Ministry of Tourism and Culture and the Tourism Board to consolidate the industry for the long term. Yes, we have challenges, but they can and they will be resolved only by everyone working together,” Minister Alain St.Ange said.

Minister St.Ange said that he will complete the visits with DMCs and airlines in the coming week as he also continues with the door-to-door visits on Praslin before moving on with that exercise on La Digue, Mahe, and the other islands. Following this series of meetings, the Ministry of Tourism and Culture is hoping to organize group meetings with destination management companies, airlines, large hotels, small hotels, and stand-alone restaurants. The Minister said that after that he will look at dive centers, boat charter companies, car hires, and boat charter companies.

MEDIA CONTACT: seychellesupdatednews@googlemail.com

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