Letter to the Editor-There’s no excuse for these high prices


27-June-2009

I wonder what is going on. Are tourists and visiting locals being taken to the cleaners?

We were showing my nephew – a first-timer in Seychelles – the sights and took him to Praslin via La Digue. We are all Seselwa and even my nephew has good old, slightly diluted, Seselwa blood coursing through his veins.

As a bad sailor, I had not eaten any breakfast and by 11 o’clock was starving, so we stopped by an eatery which looked half decent and was conveniently close to the quay. The place was quite empty but the service bordering on the slow.

The menu was in English and the prices were in euros only. One wondered whether Seychelles had become an extension of the European Union? However, after scrutinising the menu and querying prices in Seychelles rupees with the waitress, we all four decided to have a club sandwich each and, while we waited, three Seybrews and two Sprites were ordered.

When my sister went to pay the bill she was quite surprised, to put it mildly, to find that the bill had come to €52 – a whopping R988!  I then queried whether there had been an error and was told that the bill was correct. I paid up as we were about to miss the boat to Praslin. Maybe somewhere along the line something got “lost in translation”.

I trained as a chef and have worked in the hotel, restaurant and catering industry abroad for a number of years. For a time, I also ran my own outside catering business. Therefore, I am au fait with running a small catering establishment and with costing of portions per head.

I understand, too, that businesses on La Digue have to have products shipped in, which incurs an added cost. However, this is no excuse for high pricing as, in the end, it kills business. Restaurants need “bums on seats” to keep business kicking!

As a matter of comparison, the cost of our food and drinks came to more than the hire of a car, including fuel, for the time we were on Praslin. All we say now when we want a good laugh is: “At least it didn’t cost R988!” It somewhat took the gloss off our day out.

A lot is being made in the media of welcoming tourists to this country. This is no way to encourage people to spend their hard-earned euros, dollars, pounds or even Seychelles rupees, as this kind of pricing will put off many potential customers from returning.

It does not take rocket science to know that the less things cost, the more people spend, and the more the profit! Further, the two-tier system of pricing is, to say the least, discriminatory.

Although one should never say “never”, I for one will not be returning to that eatery in the near future, nor will I be recommending it to anyone I know visiting the island.

P. H.

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