Seychelles has this week been graced by a long report in world-renowned “The Economist" magazine. The visiting journalist carried out several interviews, and we publish with their permission an extract of the interview with Seychelles President James Michel, who also personally holds the portfolio for tourism. Also presented is an extract of the interview with Alain St.Ange, the CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board.
"The Economist" wrote: On the other hand, the increased traffic between the Middle East and Seychelles has prompted more tourists and potential investors to visit the country.
The region’s sizeable expat community is also taking advantage of the four-and-a-half-hour flight to Seychelles for short-haul holidays. Visitors from the rest of the African continent have increased by nearly 10%, likewise for arrivals from Russia, China, and India. 2010 is considered a banner year for the industry with a new record of 174,529 visitors, up 11% from 2009.
Seychelles is described by many as a once-in-a-lifetime experience and with good reason. It’s clear sapphire seas are inviting and rich in marine life; the perfect complement to its azure skies. As the CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board, Alain St. Ange attests, “any picture taken of the Seychelles can never do justice to the country; the reality is always prettier than it appears in the pictures.”
The government is consolidating its efforts to support the country’s main income generator so that it can effectively address global tourism trends and overcome cutthroat competition. The Seychelles Tourism Board (STB) has taken the lead in restructuring the industry and strengthening its image abroad. The results are exceptional if not downright exciting.
Cooperation between the government, airlines, and private investors has become stronger. The President’s full support of the current initiatives, in his twin capacity as Chief Executive and Minister of Tourism, is testament to the paramount role of tourism in Seychelles’ economy. President James Michel relates, “For the tourism industry to survive and to thrive, volume is needed. This is why we have encouraged a few four- and three-star hotels to open.” Mr. St. Ange added: “We were set on trying to sell the Seychelles as a very expensive, upmarket destination.
"It never worked because you separated the world in two sections. The biggest bulk of travelers were not invited anymore, because you left them out of the equation. We reprogrammed the Seychelles and repositioned it as an affordable destination, with something for every pocket.”
This new market segment has created opportunities for small- and medium-sized Seychellois enterprises that can open and operate guesthouses, small boutique hotels, restaurants, and shops. Where previously only the big five-star hotels were involved, more local entrepreneurs are given a chance to participate.
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