Tourism operators close ranks to surmount looming difficulties


Officials of the Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association (SHTA) and the Seychelles Tourism Board (STB) wading into the lagoon at Au Cap on Friday

A couple of divers also presented the SHTA chairman, Louis D’Offay, with a sealed bottle, retrieved from the sea, and containing a “message from nature” (see lead picture on front page).

Also present at the innovative gathering were other SHTA officials -- secretary Daniella-Alis-Payet, treasurer Alan Mason, executive director Raymond St Ange and Nirmal Jivan Shah, chief executive of Nature Seychelles and an active member of the association, as well as Alain St Ange, chief executive of the STB.

Mr D’Offay, who grew up at Au Cap, said that while it was not the most beautiful in Seychelles, the beach there is still among the finest in the world, representing the best attraction Seychelles has to offer, its natural environment.

He said that while total visitor arrivals in 2011 was a record 194,000 despite  economic turmoils in Europe, this year promises to be a tough one, given the many difficulties facing the trade.

Mr D’Offay said during these difficult times it is all the more pressing why government ministries should act as facilitators and make things easier for tourism operators.

He said it is important why all SHTA members should have a say in what is going on.
“The SHTA is all about tourism in Seychelles, the hotels, DMCs, car hires and boat operators and not just the business of a few hotel operators,” he said.

Mr D’Offay said the pullout of Air Seychelles from Europe, our main tourism market, has cast uncertainty among foreign tour operators selling Seychelles.

On other factors, he said that while it is obvious that hotels will have to discount, they shall also have to bear higher operating costs -- such as higher Value Added Tax (Vat) and electricity rates.

He also stressed that to be able to better compete with other destinations it is also imperative that Seychelles remains visible on the world tourism scene.
Once again, he made a plea to government to increase resources made available to SHTA, to beef up its marketing efforts.

STB CEO Alain St Ange said he is optimistic for tourism, despite anticipated difficulties.
He said the 2012 tourism arrival target is 200,000, which may seem a huge number, but there are some emerging markets, such as China, that need to be taken into consideration.

He said the beach setting at Au Cap is a reminder that everywhere in Seychelles there are clean and safe beaches.
There are also the people, service and hospitality, which together, constitute the package.

Mr St Ange stressed there was an ever urgent need for everyone to work together to overcome any difficulties.
He noted that when a few years ago, the STB set about to change the perception that Seychelles was “too expensive” into an “affordable destination,” it seemed a daunting task.  “But STB’s perseverance paid off and the continued increase in tourism numbers in recent years bears testimony to that,” he said.

Dr Shah said it is important that the environment is Seychelles’ main attraction, and he commended the SHTA to have planned the gathering in the lagoon to underline the point.

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