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Seychelles: Making tourism a more sustainable option

The biggest challenge for an island destination is constant innovation. HE Minister Maurice Loustau-Lalanne, minister for tourism, civil aviation, ports and marine of the Republic of Seychelles and Sherin Francis, CEO of Seychelles Tourism Board in a candid conversation with TBMEs Charmaine Fernz chalk out strategies are being adopted to keep Seychelles in the competitive league…


Minister – HE. Maurice Loustau-Lalanne

The Seychelles Islands has managed to achieve good growth from all major markets including the UAE. Growth from the UAE has been steady and the destination finished last year as the third largest source market for Seychelles. As Sherin says, “The UAE does not just contribute with numbers but also with a good yield. This is what we want. Our objective for all markets is not just to grow visitor number but also in parallel to increase spend in the destination.”

The Seychelles has a locational advantage for UAE travellers being located just four hours away. Added to it the visa on arrival facilities makes it a destination of choice for families, last minute travel and short breaks options.

Going beyond Luxury

Sherin points out that the high end segment is important. “We need to have a balance in terms of bed stock. Right now there is about 50-60% within the small properties including guest houses and small medium size hotels. These numbers indicate that the destination caters to all budgets,” she adds.

The tourism ministry is well aware that Seychelles cannot depend on just the sea and sand. There is a need to constantly innovate and differentiate. “We are now highlighting new experiences such as culture tourism, festivals and adventure activities. There are plenty of adventure activities one can explore such as zip-lining and paragliding among the many others,” adds Sherin.

Elaborating further, the minister adds, “We need to be true to two main things – we want very low footprints as we do not want to go into the millions. This will never happen. The second focus is offering the visitor value for money. In both areas we have a lot to do. Having analysed the destination, we still have one or two islands where we can develop some new properties. And finally, we need to showcase our cuisine which is a confluence of five cultures– Chinese, African, Asian, European and the local Creole cuisine.”

Sherin Francis, CEO, Seychelles Tourism Board

The Way Ahead

The destination has all the factors well in place however it is the structure that needs work. As the minister says, “We are going to classify hotels in Seychelles. The criteria are being worked upon to adopt them with the existing UNWTO classification norms. However, we have added some new norms focusing on local décor, architecture, menu, entertainment. If a hotel adopts them, it gives them a better grading opportunity. This is also to highlight the Creole culture.”

The ministry is also going to implement a sustainability label. “At the moment, there are 10 hotels that are graded. They get revisited every two years and during the first two years, since we had launched this label, we have added another seven hotels. This is gaining momentum,” added the minister.

The destination will also be focusing more on families and MICE segment. And to further boost awareness of the destination, Seychelles is developing an online training programme which should be rolled out by August 2017. “This will allow us to train our partners, the travel agents on what to sell in Seychelles. They will also be updated on any new developments through this programme,” added Sherin.

Tourism Overview

  • 81,187 visitors arrived in Seychelles (Jan – March 2017)
  • An 18% increase over 2016 (68,887)
  • UAE has recorded an increase of 36%