19 Chinese couples to tie the knot on Mahe


The couples in a souvenir photograph with Minister St Ange, ambassadors Shi and Le Gall shortly after arrival at the Seychelles International Airport

Their arrival also coincides with the 150th anniversary of the first Chinese settlers in Seychelles and a banner unfurled at the airport proclaimed the occasion.

The nineteen brides and grooms, accompanied by a contingent of 32 journalists, from mainland China and Taiwan and several businessmen, were welcomed upon arrival on the Ethiopian Airways by Tourism and Culture Minister Alain St Ange  and Chinese ambassador in Victoria Shi Zhongjun.

The Seychelles resident ambassador in Beijing, Philippe Le Gall, who had played a key role in organising the event, garlanded all the couples as they arrived on the flight from Beijing via Addis Ababa.

The couples will stay at the Le Meridien Barbarons Hotel, where they will wed this afternoon in a ceremony which will combine Creole, Asian and European culture, said Mr Le Gall.

He said the couples had been selected on the strength of their passion.
“They are very much in love,” he said, and that was obvious as they hugged upon disembarcation and took photos of one another.

Mr Le Gall, whose office in Beijing, along with Mason’s Travel and the Seychelles Tourism Board (STB) organised the vacation, said that when he was accredited to China, Seychelles was rather unknown.

Since then, there have been two visits by President James Michel to China; a visit by President Hu Jintao to Mahe and just two weeks ago, the donation of two giant Aldabra tortoises to Beijing Zoo.

There has also been Seychelles’ participation at the 2008 Olympics and 2010 World Trade Expo in China.

Mr St Ange said China is the biggest growth area in the world as a tourism market. Some 50 million Chinese take yearly vacations and in the region, they constitute the biggest market for the Maldives, with 130,000 visitors yearly.

For Seychelles, the numbers are still small, but our country is out to take a little chunk of the market, he said. 

Mr St Ange said the presence of the big press contingent to cover the wedding and feature Seychelles’ scenery and people, will also contribute enormously to making our islands more visible in China.

He also noted that the Chinese visitors coming to Seychelles are well-off and the occasion will generate good publicity for Seychelles, as our national airline intends to operate three weekly flights non-stop to China, starting January 2013.
Mr Eddie D’Offay of Mason’s said that marketing and tapping of the Chinese market began over five years ago.

He noted that weddings have increased, with several taking place at the Banyan Tree Resort in January, following which Seychelles was featured in Cosmopolitan Bride, a holiday magazine in Asia.

Mr D’Offay said after the weddings today, the couples will be going on various excursions organised by Masons, including to Praslin and La Digue, before flying back home Tuesday, their heads full of good memories.

He said Mason’s works closely with several hotels, notably the Berjaya Beau Vallon Bay and both Meridien resorts -- Barbarons and Fisherman’s Cove. 

He forecasts however that in future, Berjaya Beau Vallon Bay and the Kempinski resorts might prove more popular with the Chinese visitors because of the casinos there, which constitute a major attraction.

Mr D’Offay said Mason’s plans to continue marketing and tapping some other Asian markets, notably South Korea.