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File Photo: Visitors pictured disembarking at the Seychelles International airport, from an Air Seychelles flight in February this year. (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency)
With tourism being the main economic pillar of the Seychelles, 115 tropical islands situated just below the equator in western Indian Ocean, an increase of 19 percent in visitor arrivals from January to date, can be seen as a signal of economic growth for the country.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), a total of 182,089 tourists came to the islands for holiday or for business up to September 6 compared to 153,469 for the same period in 2015. The top 10 source markets were France, Germany, Italy, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, China, Russia, South Africa, Switzerland and India.
Last year a total of 232,667 visitors came to Seychelles, which is expected to increase this year if the current trend continues.
The CEO of Seychelles Tourism Board (STB) Sherin Naiken has expressed her satisfaction with the performance up to now.
“For us we have started the year on a very positive note in terms of tourism arrivals and we have seen during those months especially March and April where the rate of growth was very large especially during the carnival and Easter period where we have record months in terms of tourism arrivals,” Naiken told SNA.
In March there was a total of 25,129 arrivals and April there were 25,038 visitors with growth of 23 and 8 percent respectively compared to 2014.
She said this trend continued for May, June and July which are usually slow months for tourism arrival. However, there was a significant increase in August with 25,393 visitors making it 24 percent more than for the same period in 2014.
Naiken said she is happy with the performance for August since last year was not a good month as the number of visitors retracted instead of growing.
“This year we established a good start and we can say that this is the time where our good travel peak season starts for us because this the European holiday break and with Europe making about 60 percent of our visitors this is the time when they travel the most and for a longer period of time.”
According to Naiken, for the next three months September to November the performance will be good but possibly not as good as August, the traditional European month for holidays. She expects arrival figures will pick up in the month of December for the last two weeks as it is another peak season, and hotels are already receiving bookings for the Christmas holidays.
Although Europe is still Seychelles' leading market to date with an overall increase of 11 percent this year and with one of the European markets the UK and Ireland recording an impressive 33 percent increase so far, there are also emerging markets, which are performing quite well.
“The emerging market performing better this year is India. India is a new market and it is now 2 years that we have a proper strategy and a proper budget for it. It is growing at present two or three times more than last year,” says Naiken.
A total of 4,795 visitors came from India for the period January to September 6, 2015, compared to 1,667 for 2014, representing a change of 188 percent.
STB's Chief Executive has attributed the rise in visitors from India to the fact that today there are direct flights 3 times a week from Mumbai (India) to Seychelles. Air Seychelles is also providing flights through their code-sharing agreement with Jet Airways for the possibility of other visitors from other cities in India.
Furthermore to maximize Seychelles visibility in India, STB was part of the fifth visit of Seychelles President James Michel to India in August this year.
“The visit of our President [President James Michel] to India was a great opportunity for us to get media visibility and it is for that reason that the activity we organized together with Air Seychelles was very much focused on media. We invited many well known television channels in India to attend our event we had as many articles as possible in the local papers in various sectors including tourism where possible. For us definitely we know there will be benefits because visibility is important and we must always find ways to stay in people mind,” added Naiken.
Other tourism operators in Seychelles believe that there are other factors contributing towards the increase in visitor arrivals.
The slashing of prices the hotels have had to make to compete with the other destinations is one of the factors the Seychelles Hotel and Tourism Association (SHTA), feels has contributed towards the increase.
Emirates Airline's decision to increase its flying capacity to the Indian Ocean island nation since June by introducing a second Boeing 777-300 aircraft on the Seychelles route and Air Seychelles' direct flights to Paris are also being viewed as initiatives giving a push to regain the traditional European Market.
The view is is also shared by Derek Barbe General Manager of recently built Savoy Resort and Spa a five star hotel situated in the north of the main Seychelles island of Mahe.
“Many of our clients are also happy that we now have direct flights to Europe and they do not have to travel via other countries,” said Barbe. He also added that the availability of facilities which are up to international standards like venues for conferences and weddings are becoming more popular.
Nevertheless, in an emailed response to SNA, the SHTA has noted that it is not at all satisfied with purely the increase [19 percent] over last year "as its members are suffering from the reduction in price they have had to put up to get the increase."
The association says the way forward is to continue to have discussions involving businesses in the tourism trade, the government, tourism ministry, STB and the airlines to have a common approach to tackle the difficulties.
Costa Cruises, a popular worldwide cruise operator, has agreed to increase the number of cruise liners and rotations to the Vanilla Islands region in the next two years.
The cruise ship Costa Fortuna, pictured in Katakolo in April 2009 (Jacopo Werther/Wikimedia Commons)
Tourism ministers from the Vanilla Islands, or Iles Vanille as they are called in the French language, are in the 115-island archipelago of Seychelles witnessed their countries cultural delegations participate in the Carnaval International de Victoria, and see the progress that has been made with the annual festival since its inception five years ago.
It is now also almost five years since the regional association of Vanilla Islands was created in August 2010 to promote tourism in the Indian Ocean, comprising seven regional island nations: Seychelles, Madagascar, La Réunion, Mauritius, Comoros, Mayotte and Maldives.
Increased regional figures
The Vanilla Islands organization recently released combined regional tourism figures for the islands, and visitor arrivals have shown a 15 percent increase across the region.
Seychelles, with its population of 90,000 inhabitants, benefited in 2014 from a boost in dual destination marketing. Packages where visitors can travel to an African country, such as South Africa, Tanzania or Kenya as a safari destination and then transfer on to the Seychelles, Reunion or Mauritius as a beach getaway are becoming increasingly popular.
Dual destination holidays between South Africa and Seychelles have reportedly increased by 98 percent, according to Pascal Viroleau, director of the Vanilla Islands.
Tourism is the main pillar of the Seychelles economy, and the archipelago recorded 232,667 visitors between January and December 2014.
Impending air connectivity 'announcements'
Air Seychelles, the national carrier of the Seychelles, opened a new route to Madagascar last year with the aim of increasing air traffic in the region.
"Today, the challenge we face is the air connectivity between the islands, there are efforts that have been made on it and there should be announcements by the end of the year, now the airlines are working together... it's going forward," said Viroleau.
In June, the rotating presidency of the Vanilla Islands tourism organisation, currently held by the Madagascan Minister of Tourism, Ramarcel Benjamina Ramanantsoa, will be handed over to Mauritius.
Seychelles Ambassador accredited to the People's Republic of China, Mr Philippe Le Gall paid a courtesy call on the newly appointed Director General of Beijing Municipal Commission of Tourism Development-BMCTD Professor Zhou Zhengyu, accompanied by BMCTD’s Director of the Department of City Image and Marketing, Mr Zhang Jing, and the Deputy Secretary-General of the World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF), Mr Yan Han.
Ambassador Le Gall briefed the new Director General on the latest developments and figures regarding Seychelles’ efforts to promote the country and discussed Beijing and China’s outbound tourism market.
The Ambassador commented on the successful partnership developed between the Embassy, Seychelles Honorary Consulate General for Hong-Kong and Macau and STB to significantly increase the number of arrivals of Chinese visitors to Seychelles.
In addition Ambassador Le Gall commented on the role of the Embassy in facilitating the opening of a Seychelles Consulate General in Shanghai, and the signing of two memoranda of understating between the Seychelles Tourism Academy and Shanghai Tourism College, and with, Hebei Vocational Tourism College; essentially encouraging education and training in the hospitality industry.
The Ambassador also reaffirmed the importance Seychelles attaches to the participation of Victoria in the WTCF events and suggested that Professor Zhou Zhengyu visit to Seychelles, to assess the potential for cooperation between Victoria and WTCF and deepen the existing Seychelles and relationship.
Professor Zhou Zhengu expressed Beijing’s satisfaction to have Victoria among the founding cities of WTCF and he added that the participation of Seychelles' capital in the WTCF September Summit in Beijing will be an opportunity to strengthen both the friendship and the cooperation between the them. Professor Zhou Zhengu added that WTCF’s Committee of Aviation could be an efficient platform to help develop direct air links between Beijing and Seychelles. He also noted that Seychelles could be included in one of Beijing’s future “outbound promotion plans.”
Finally BMCTD’s Director General expressed strong interest in having preliminary discussions initiated through the Embassy and BMCTD between STA and Beijing Tourism College, in view of the signing of a MOU allowing student exchanges. The Deputy Secretary General of WTCF, Mr Han Yan was entrusted with this responsibility.
Ambassador Le Gall was accompanied by his Personal Assistant, Mr Li Huanhuan who is also STB’s senior marketing executive for mainland China.
Camila Estico, Lisa Rose, Elmina Savy, Marvel Godley, Anabelle Pointe, Stephanie Duval, Christa Joubert, Michaella Rosette, Melissa Pool, Raphaela Dugasse, Ronda Sidonie and Fiorella Cedras, the twelve Miss Seychelles… Another World finalists met the local media for the first time last Sunday evening.
This took place in a short ceremony at Le Meridien Fisherman’s Cove Hotel and was attended by the Minister for Tourism and Culture, Alain St.Ange, Seychelles Tourism Board Chief Executive Officer, Sherin Naiken, PS for Tourism Anne Lafortune, PS for Culture Benjamine Rose and other high government officials.
The out-going Miss Seychelles was also on hand to welcome the girls into the public eye and offer them words of advice now that they are about to start the three-month training sessions.
In her address to the twelve girls, the Seychelles Tourism Board Chief Executive Officer, Sherin Naiken, told the contestants that this was a time for them to grow personally as well as professionally.
“I hope you enjoy the journey you have just embarked on,” said Ms Naiken.
While the Minister for Tourism and Culture, Alain St.Ange also wished the beauty contest finalists all the best in their preparation for the pageant. The Minister also explained that they would now be at the forefront of many of the activities organised by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture and also by those organised by the Seychelles Tourism Board.
“A few years ago our country decided that culture, and in so doing our people inclusive of our beauty queens would be placed in the forefront in the marketing and promotional activities of our islands” explained Minister St.Ange.
As a result the girls taking part in the Miss Seychelles…Another World pageant will be immediately at the forefront of promoting the Carnaval International de Victoria and other events featured on the calendar of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture and of the Tourism Board.
The cocktail party at Le Meridien Fisherman's Cove Hotel was the opportunity for the local media to meet the twelve finalists, and hold brief interviews to better get to know them.
Also present at the event were the Seychelles Tourism Board’s partners and sponsors for that event:- Airtel, Jouel, Le Meridien Fisherman’s Cove and Air Seychelles.
BIRO PREZIDAN KOMINIKE LAPRES
LAFLANM KREOLITE ALIMEN
Prezidan James Michel ti ouver 28yem Festival Kreol ozordi swar dan sant lavil Viktorya, kot i ti koz lo lenportans pou bann lepep Kreol pour reafirm zot lidantite kilitir Kreol atraver sa fesitval.
"Nou pe gard laflanm Kreolite alimen. I zayir dan nou leker, dan nou lanm. I enspir nou. Sa laflanm i rapel nou nou pase – en pase souvan douloure. Me i osi en laflanm ardan ki gid nou ver en lavenir glorye.... ....I enportan pour nou touzour gard dan nou leker, dan lavi nou nasyon, en plas spesyal pour nou kiltir, nou leritaz, nou tradisyon ek nou langaz kreol. I pa ti toultan konmsa. Souvan-d-fwa dan lepase, tou sa ki ti asosye avek lalang ek kiltir kreol ti ganny meprize, menm reprimen severman. Me gras-a en volonte politik ferm, gras-a en zefor konserte, nou ti devlop e promouvwar nou leritaz ki baze lo en melanz kiltir. Nou bezwen kontinnyen devlop li e anrisi li atraver bann aksyon konkret me osi atraver bann lenstitisyon. Annou zanmen bliye: lafors nou pep se nou valer ek nou leritaz kreol. Parske en pep san kiltir i en pep san lavenir, " Prezidan in dir pandan son diskour.
Prezidan in dir ki Festival Kreol i 'en mozaik kiltir, langaz, listwar, larelizyon e desten' e ki sa festival i enportan pour nasyon Seselwa promouvwar linite, diversite e lafyerte lanasyon.
"Nou selebre lenportans nou lidantite ek valer nou kiltir dan devlopman en sosyete ki ankor pli solider, pli ini e pli zis. Nou devre reste sa zetwal ki briye dan Losean Endyen. Sa zetwal ki senboliz lape, tolerans ek larmoni. Sa zetwal kreol dan Losean Endyen e dan lemonn antye!"
Sa lannen bann mizisyen ek artis sorti La Reunion, Moris, Rodrig, Martinique ek Haiti ti zwenn bann mizisyen Seselwa pour en spektak mizikal kolore pour sa levennman.
Prezan pour Louvertir Ofisyel Festival Kreol ti osi Vis-Prezidan Danny Faure, ansyen Prezidan James Mancham, Madanm Monique Bellepeau, Vis-Prezidan Larepiblik Moris, Madanm Nassimah Dindar, Prezidan Konsey Zeneral La Réunion, Msye Didier Robert, Prezidan Konsey Rezyonal La Réunion, Madanm Youma Fall, Directris Diversite e Devlopman Kiltirel Lorganizasyon Enternasyonal La Francophonie, Madanm Rose de Lima Edouard, Komiser Kiltir Rodrigues.