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The Seychelles tourism private sector industry speaks

The Seychelles tourism private sector industry speaks (Forimmediaterelease.net) The editorial of the monthly publication by the Seychelles Tourism Industry speaks up on the way forward as seen by the island's private sector, the motor behind the economy of the Seychelles.

In his editorial in the latest issue of the industry's publication, Louis D'Offay, the long-time Chairman of the industry's association had this to say:

“Welcome to yet another issue of the Seychelles Tourism Industry Newsletter!

“We are coming out with this issue as our industry looks sadly at a situation where a lack of concerted effort is so apparent. We were all informed that Turkish Airlines intended to start their Seychelles flights at the same time as they were launching their operations into the Maldives. Why are we still dragging our feet and letting the other tourism destinations of our region get the better of us?

“Turkish Airlines [is] now firmly established with their Maldives schedule, and we understand that they are set to increase their frequencies. Their arrival has brought a review in applicable tour operator fares to Maldives. A win-win situation for Maldives. But the question we are all asking is why is it taking so long to develop a bilateral agreement with Turkey and thereby giving them the necessary landing rights for an immediate start? Who is punishing Seychelles and the tourism industry?

“Paris and the need for a direct flight will continue to be a stumbling block between the whole tourism trade and the Minister responsible for Transport. Times are not easy, and as we follow the news of codeshare between Air France and Etihad, we fail to understand why Air Seychelles is not thinking of Seychelles just for once. Abu Dhabi will remain the hub for Etihad, but please make Seychelles the base for Air Seychelles. Today we could be benefiting from that Air France/Etihad cooperation, because that cooperation could channel our Air Seychelles passengers into Paris to board a direct nonstop flight to Seychelles. “Four flights to South Africa pushed the industry at large to run to push the South African market and to promote twin center in the Americas, especially in Brazil and Argentina. Even Air Seychelles supported the Tourism Board's David Germain in his endeavors to promote Seychelles. Safari in South Africa and beach in Seychelles, two countries in one holiday was taking off, but now SA tour operators are telling us that the four flights announcement was but an industry's invention.

“The country is losing face. Brazil operators have programmed Seychelles, our local DMCs have all gone to Brazil and Argentina at their own cost to be ready when the four flights kick in. We feel our job is done, but where are the flights? Minister Morgan is the Chairman of the Air Seychelles Board of Directors and the Seychelles government nominees on that board are in majority numbers and yet they are failing Seychelles. This is sad and hotels, guest houses, hotel staff, tourism academy students, yes the trade in general, should take note that the tourism industry is being let down.

“The boat operators meeting on Praslin raised many shortfalls by two Ministries. Poor state of roads, unlicensed boat operators, jetty management on Praslin & La Digue, thefts on Praslin right in front of the Police Station anchor point, unfortunate state of Curieuse island and its lunch serving area, and corruption with Marine Park entrance fees where illegal boat operators enjoy special arrangements. The Ministry of Tourism has also been asked to relook at operating modes between big consortiums and the small individual operators and to work with the Transport Minister to get an inflight magazine in the domestic Air Seychelles flights and tourism activity boards at domestic terminals on Mahe and Praslin, and ferry terminals on Mahe, Praslin, and La Digue to promote licensed tourism operators on Praslin, La Digue, and Mahe. It was noted by all the boat operators present that it was disappointing that only one Minister turned up for that Praslin meeting with the little people of Praslin.

“Where have we reached in our plight to save Praslin and La Digue tourism? We all know that the cost for visitors on our Domestic Air Seychelles and on the Ferry is today not helping, but it is more a hindrance. The difference in applicable rates and the rate for the 15-minute flight remains remedy against a visit to Praslin at the detriment of Praslin and La Digue. The Tourism Board needs to advertise the schooner rides and state their rates. Going back in time seems the only recourse to consolidate our industry.

“But all is not bad. Congratulations to Michel Gardette and his team at Fond Ferdinand. Your new Nature Reserve was needed and everyone in the industry will support and promote your spectacular Coco de Mer park. With your stated applicable entrance fee of Rupees 50 until end December and then Rupees 100 from January, [it] is encouraging, and it tells us that you have heard our plea to help keep Seychelles more competitive. Such new natural attractions will also help increase the yield of our country from its tourism industry. The more attractions and activities we have for our visitors to spend their holiday budget on, the better our country will be.

“Planning Authority and the Tourism Industry are heading in different directions. We hear of projects, but we are still not consulted. Today we see hotels being built on top of hotels to make our very own Costa del Sol style of environment. No respect for the country's environment is today so apparent in so many new hotel and self-catering establishments. Tiled walls on the road cannot suit the charm and authenticity of La Digue for example. Footprints of new establishments [are] a new vocabulary, but not applicable to everyone. Unfortunately we see a destruction of what Seychelles stands for, taking place under our very own eyes on a daily basis. We pray that the practice that enabled the Cerf Island Jetty to be constructed is not reappearing again.”

IMAGE: Seychelles Tourism Industry Association (SHTA)

SOURCE: SHTA Association

MEDIA CONTACT: seychellesupdatednews@googlemail.com

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