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Tourism private sector trade meet with Minister Alain St.Ange to discuss policy matters and address the question of capping on tourism numbers

Tourism private sector trade meet with Minister Alain St.Ange to discuss policy matters and address the question of capping on tourism numbers ( Minister Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles Minister responsible for Tourism and Culture, accompanied by Anne Lafortune, the PS for Tourism, and Sinha Levkonic, the Head of the Ministry's Inspectorates, met with a large numbers of hoteliers at the Ministry's Conference Room at the National Cultural Centre at Victoria to continue the process of dialogue that falls in the concept of public/private sector partnership of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture.

This was the third meeting between hoteliers and the minister to discuss the concept of hotel classification or grading. The minister opened the meeting by saying that with this meeting all the hotels of Seychelles had been given the opportunity to hear the proposals and to air their comments. Minister St.Ange explained the proposal in some detail and said that the ministry remained open to suggestions and wanted to hear from the trade, because the hotel Classification of Grading Concept was to bring out the best from the trade and ensure due recognition of the country's assets in the accommodation network. The minister and his delegation explained that they had already met with the one island one resort group, then they had met with the five-star hotels and resorts, and that they were now meeting with the biggest group of hotels. “We often hear the question of yield, and we know that the country's yield depends on the product that makes Seychelles the brand we promote in the four corners of the world," Minister St.Ange said.

The minister highlighted the fact that Seychelles was today suffering from different factors that makes hotels reduce their rates where some five-star properties were today charging rates that were being charged by the small Seychellois guest houses. He spoke about the special offers being pushed by tour operators and said that the product needed sooner rather than later a degree of self-regulation, because price wars did nothing to the help the bottom line of the respective hotels entering this maneuver nor did it help the country's yield from its tourism industry.

After giving broad lines of the hotel classification or grading concept in the presence of Kate Carolus of the Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association (SHTA) and John Stravens of the Seychelles Chamber of Commerce and Industries (SCCI) the Minister listened to the points of views from all of the hoteliers present. The minister said that he appreciated the support for a Seychelles hotels Classification of Grading concept and also said that he had heard the points made with regards to having rates bands attached to the classification concept.

“We have heard you all as we did hear the views of the last groups of hoteliers we met. We have since received many letters from the hoteliers expressing their views in writing," the minister said before adding, “The Tourism Department remains opened to hear the views and comments of the tourism industry and will be shaping the final version of their proposal for a Seychelles Classification of Grading Concept taking the trade comments in mind."

The draft version of the Seychelles Classification of Grading Concept will now be distributed to every licensed tourism establishment. It was also confirmed that small Seychellois guest houses would be graded under the concept of the Seychelles Secrets program.

After the meeting, Minister Alain St.Ange was questioned by the press on when the government was expected to bring the law to put into force the Classification of Grading Concept and to elaborate the question of capping on tourist arrival numbers.

The minister said that the tourism trade had requested in the different discussions and through letters for the government to consider launching the scheme on January 1, 2017. Minister St.Ange said that he understood the point that the contracting period with tour operators needed to be respected, and he assured that every hotel would be duly informed of their proposed star rating early in 2016 to give them ample time to duly communicate to their partner tour operators. On the question of capping on tourist arrival numbers, Minister St.Ange said that he and the government of Seychelles had heard the pleas from the tourism trade firstly and from the public as a whole on the question of the continued increase of hotel rooms. “This is why we have embarked on a detailed carrying capacity for the whole country. This will give us the base to develop a hotel construction framework. When we control construction of new properties, we are in fact capping the visitor arrival numbers. This comes with saying that one goes with the other. The carrying capacity has been partly completed, and during the course of this year, we shall have the completed carrying capacity study and then government will move with announcements on the matter. We all know that we have limits in how many tourists we can receive before we destroy what our visitors come to Seychelles to see, we also all know that when we control hotels, we are giving the change for everyone to achieve a better occupancy level and to also increase their own GOP," said the Minister.

Minister St.Ange also spoke about the country's arrival statistics and said that last year no one questioned the figures being collected by the same bureau that is doing it today. “The only difference is that last year the figures were battling to show an increase whereas this year the increase is clear," the Minister said. He went on to say that the comments by the industry's association was well received and that more attention needed to be given to the yield from tourism and that this was why the country was today looking at the product now that the marketing strategy in place was working.


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