Largest-ever group of Chinese tourists land in Seychelles


 School children welcoming the Chinese tourists on their arrival at the Seychelles International Airport yesterday

They arrived at 3.15pm on board a chartered, round-flight Ethiopian airlines flight, an initiative of the China Travel Services (CTS), the Ethiopian Airlines and the Seychelles Tourism Board (STB).

CTS representatives in a souvenir photograph with Minister Shamlaye, Mr Faure, Ambassador Shi and tourism officials

The event was also symbolic as it marked 150 years since the first Chinese settlement came to Seychelles, and even more symbolic since the flight coincided with the eve of the Chinese New Year.

A party-like atmosphere awaited the visitors at the airport, with a band playing traditional music and dancers performing, inviting the guests to join them amid the noise of cheering and waving schoolchildren.

Also present were the Minister for Culture and Social Development Bernard Shamlaye, Chinese ambassador to Seychelles Shi Zhonjun and a delegation from the STB led by its chairman Barry Faure.

Speaking to the press, the CTS deputy president Chao Qian said through a translator that they have very close relationships with all stakeholders in putting together the trip and that with Seychelles reputation in China, the arrival numbers from Chinese tourists could only increase throughout the year.

“It took us about two months to organise everything and this is only the beginning because as you know we have a big population, and a huge number of people who travel abroad every year,” she said.

The CTS said the group could have been bigger but that there was a shortage of airline seats from China.

Also at the airport were 150 schoolchildren, who welcomed the tourists with flags of both Seychelles and China, adorned them with flower garlands and gave out Hongbao, which are red Chinese envelopes with a one rupee coin inside, usually distributed during the Chinese New Year.

The STB deputy chief executive, Elsia Grandcourt, said they see the Chinese market as one with a lot of potential and work has started since 2011 to tap into that particular niche market.

“With 2000 Chinese visitors to Seychelles last year, we are today working on establishing a regular charter flight from China to Seychelles and with other countries in the region, making use of such potential. We are also focusing on bringing in these visitors to discover the beauty of our islands,” she said.

A representative of the 7° South destination management company, which is handling the group, said a number of activities has been planned for the guests during their stay, and that many of them has booked excursion trips to discover the beauty of the islands.
The chartered flight leaves on January 27.

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