Tourism industry calls for return of non-stop direct flights from Europe


“We are suffering from a drastic drop in visitor arrivals from France, Italy, and the United Kingdom. They were our traditional ‘main’ markets and many trade members have built a business on these markets with relationships nurtured over 40 years. We need a direct non-stop flight to be re-established so that these markets can be re-ignited to deliver tourists for the Seychelles before we lose these markets permanently and have to restart to re-establish new relations for the future,” Mr D’Offay said.

The statement was made following the SHTA’s board of directors meeting on Monday last week.
“The SHTA is realistic and appreciates that Seychelles must diversify its tourism market, but feels strongly that the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA) should seek the support of the Seychelles Tourism Board to reach out to attract new airline companies to serve Seychelles from Europe with non- stop direct flights, as well,” Mr D’Offay said.

The association has noted that the “new Air Seychelles” has as its primary mission to be a profitable airline, and not to function as an “insurance policy” for the Seychelles.

Although the SHTA sees the merger between Etihad and our national carrier as a positive move with huge upside potential, it laments the fact that this ‘new’ revamped airline will not be providing the much needed direct air services from its traditional markets. The airline will instead service the destination as another “hub and spoke” operation, in this case via Abu Dhabi. A huge opportunity is being missed, and our industry will pay the price.

Statistics from France, Italy, and the United Kingdom remain in negative territory to date. This is regretted all the more given that these are traditional markets for our country; long term valuable partners who have consistently yielded quality tourists with strong spending power.

“We are appealing to the SCAA to seek the assistance and support of the Seychelles Tourism Board to go out and look for airlines to serve the industry. Seychelles has no time to lose as all statistics indicate that Seychelles tourism arrival figures show a continued regression among our key traditional markets, requiring immediate substantive steps to be taken to reverse the downward trend. We hope that the Government will hear this plea. We are of course supportive of the move to diversify, but stress the need to urgently safeguard our existing main markets,” Mr D’Offay added.

The SHTA also called on the Minister for Tourism and Culture to urgently appoint a director of Marketing to the STB.
“The post has been vacant for years, and in the light of the recent changes it is paramount that an experienced professional, passionate about our Seychelles, is appointed.”

The SHTA has also called on government to put a sound Air Transport Policy in place. This policy would serve to ably guide both government and potential interested airline partners looking to service the Seychelles.

“We strongly believe that these above pleas are aimed at addressing key concerns, and if enacted will better position the Seychelles, salvaging deteriorating markets in the interim and, looking forward, favouring the Seychelles as a positive destination for competing airlines to do business in for the betterment of our Nation.”

Contributed by SHTA


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