Chinese journalists hosted to woo Asian market


The Chinese journalists in a souvenir photograph with their Seychellois hosts

A group of ten Chinese journalists from magazines based in Beijing, Shanghai and several other cities around China are in Seychelles for eight days to encourage their readers to consider Seychelles as a welcoming and hospitable tourism destination.

They arrived on the inaugural flight from Hong Kong to Seychelles on Tuesday last week and are expected to make the trip back home tomorrow.

Some of the Chinese journalists were treated to a cultural evening at the historic La Plaine St. André restaurant, attended by Minister for Tourism and Culture Alain St Ange, chief executive of the Seychelles Tourism Board Elsia Grandcourt and Josie Michaud-Payet, manager of corporate communications for Air Seychelles.

The group enjoyed a sumptuous buffet of uniquely Seychellois cuisine as well as traditional Creole music and dance. Fragrant citronella candles cast a soft light on the wooden floors as the intimate setting allowed the delegation to enjoy some good conversation, food and music.

Duanping Xiong, a writer at Beijing-based Travel and Leisure magazine, said he thought it was a very attractive proposition for Chinese tourists to come to Seychelles.
“Those people who want to experience something different and try new things at an early stage will want to travel here,” he said. “Most of the Chinese people who know Seychelles, they know about this place because Prince William honeymooned here, so some people have a dream of having their honeymoon here too.”

“I have that dream,” said his colleague Danna Zhao, laughing shyly. She explained that even though she had already been on her own honeymoon, she could still dream of coming to this romantic destination with her husband.

“I think the people in Seychelles are nice,” said Jianqing Li. “They are not as commercial as people from other island destinations we have been to – they are really pure in mind and heart, very warm people.”

Minister St Ange said that the aim of hosting the journalists was twofold: “One aim was to support the launch of the flight into Hong Kong, but more than that, to invite them to experience Seychelles, and to go back and say what it is that they’ve seen.

“I’ve always believed that a journalist invited to Seychelles becomes an ambassador for our country and the three journalists and one photographer that are here with us tonight are overtaken by the beauty of our country and the pristine nature that we still have.”

Ms Michaud-Payet added that Air Seychelles, in partnership with the Ministry of Tourism and STB, has embarked on an aggressive PR campaign in Asia.
“Actually, Air Seychelles, together with STB, are bringing over a Taiwanese TV crew - they are coming on the 15th April to spend around 15 days in Seychelles, and we are organising a very hectic itinerary for them as well, so we hope they survive it!”

“The idea is to get them exposed to all the beauty of Seychelles and with that we expect to gain much television exposure, in fact that would be the first television exposure we would have in Greater China,” said Ms Michaud-Payet.

Numbers are not available yet as to the amount of business generated by the opening of the new Hong Kong route, but the minister says they will be able to conduct a proper assessment within the next few months.

“We do know that the figures are already double what they were last year, and that is a massive increase in numbers. Never underestimate them and think they are not spending money, because our research shows that they are big spenders. Often they will pick two excursions a day.”

Minister St Ange said that not only tourism stakeholders, but all Seychellois should strive to accept the norms of the Chinese visitors and try to learn more about their culture.
“We just have to adapt ourselves to listening to them and giving them what they want. There’s nothing difficult about that.”
Ms Grandcourt said that oftentimes it is the small efforts to value our Asian guests that count.

“When we get feedback from the Chinese tourists and we add everything together to review it, it’s the little things that can make a huge difference to them.”

Minister St Ange said that the journalists were impressed by the warmth of the Seychellois people because Seychelles prides itself for not being over-commercialised.

“This is why we can say we offer personalised tourism, and it’s personal because of the numbers we receive. I think the beauty of Seychelles, even though tourism is the pillar of our economy, the numbers are very small. This is our advantage, because we can still meet people and talk to people without them just being a number.”