Senpa brings craft to hotels


Guests and visitors viewing the items on display at the various stalls in the bazaar

Guests and visitors viewing the items on display at the various stalls in the bazaar

If the idea is successful, a group of selected artisans will spend each day of the week at a different hotel on a rotation basis. The first of the bazaars have been held at the Kempinski Resort at Baie lazare every Thursday since May this year, and Senpa expects to extend the programme to other hotels soon.

One of the Thursday bazaars held recently was attended by the Minister for Tourism and Culture Alain St Ange, Minister for Foreign Affairs Jean-Paul Adam, the general manager of Kempinski Resort, Jean-Marc Michel and Senpa’s chief executive officer Penny Belmont.  They had joined other invitees in order to witness for themselves the progress and prospects of the new strategy.

Six local entrepreneurs -- Linda Palmyre, Marina Sullivan, Jerina Longobardi, Lise Sadler, Robin Port-Louis and Louis Loiseau -- had turned up for the occasion with a variety of products including pottery, jewellery, sculptures and wood carvings, paintings, ship models among other souvenirs. If the products available seemed attractive and of high standard, the tourists’ turn-out was on the other hand poor with only a handful of visitors touring the stands.

Standing in front of her well decorated stand of flower vases, lampshades, beach bags and wood and bamboo carvings, faithful participant to Senpa’s frequent craft fairs, sculptor and confectioner Jerina Longobardi said that their presence at Kempinski is yet to be felt and that the few clients who turn up do not buy much. She feels that the hotel should market the activity more among its guests in order to pull a bigger crowd and increase sales.

Minister St Ange described the initiative as a golden opportunity to bring culture to hotels, thus into tourism, not only through craft but through music and other arts, and make visitors discover our culture.

“If there is Thursday at Kempinski, there must be Friday, Saturday in other hotels. So we need a moveable bazaar around the country. If we bring arts to the hotels, the yield from tourism can be better. But we must not only wait for an evening in a hotel, we must also get tourists to shop in Victoria and get them to leave Seychelles with souvenirs made in Seychelles,” the tourism minister said.

Minister St Ange reiterated his ministry’s support to Senpa, adding that the two organisations will work together in order to provide for a much needed shop where craftsmen will be able to retail their products.

Speaking on behalf of Peter Sinon, the minister responsible for industry and who could not be present, Minister Adam said he was proud to see the “Made in Seychelles” exhibits on display, which for him represent the work of good artisans and which can play an important role in the country’s economy.

“The tourism industry is the one which drives the other sectors of the economy. Making tourism work is making the artisans and the craft sector work. It is clear that in the future, our economy will be built on small businesses,” he said.

Ms Belmont said the hotel bazaar represented an example of perfection, something that the artisans had been waiting to happen. Thanking Kempinski for accepting the opportunity to work with Seychellois artisans by offering them a privileged sales outlet, she called on other hotels to also open their doors and answer positively to Senpa’s knock.

For Kempinski’s general manager, Mr Michel, it was an honour for his establishment to launch the cooperation between the tourism sector and Senpa and Seychellois artisans.

He said that his hotel had built itself a reputation of caring for local products. He hoped that the good cooperation he has established with the Seychellois craft sector, and by which his clients will be able to buy souvenirs at the hotel, will be a long-lasting one.

The few clients present also had a touch of Seychellois folklore with performances from Joe Samy and Archille Luc who was accompanied by the hotel’s cultural troupe.