Minister Radegonde visits tourism establishments on Praslin |27 September 2021
The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Tourism, Sylvestre Radegonde, continued with his series of familiarisation visits on Praslin over the weekend.
On Friday and Saturday, Minister Radegonde visited 31 establishments in the Côte D’Or and Anse Kerlan areas.
Minister Radegonde was accompanied by the principal secretary for tourism, Sherin Francis; the director-general for Destination Planning and DevelopmentPaul lebon; and members of the National Assembly from Praslin.
The visit started in Côte D’Or on Friday where the delegation toured Hotel L’Archipel, Villa Deckenia, S Hotel, Côte D’Or Lodge, Les Villas D’Or, Acajou Beach Resort, Heliconia Grove, Côte D’Or Footprints, Coco Bay, L’Hirondelle Self Catering Guest House, Berjaya Praslin Beach, Les Lauriers Eco Hotel, Pirogue Lodge, Myra’s Self Catering and Chez Lester.
On Saturday, the visit concentrated in Grand Anse at Palm Holiday Apartments, Terasse sur Lazio, Constance Lemuria Resort, Home Confort, The Islander, Treasure Island Retreat, Sunset Cove Self-Catering Apartments, Island Charm, Chateau Sans Soucis, Casa Tara, Villas Coco Beach, Villa Sofia, Butterfly Villa and Castello Beach Hotel
At the end of the visit, Minister Radegonde praised the general high standards he observed in the establishments visited. However, he noted that there is a minority of cases which will require help and advice from the ministry to improve themselves.
“Seychelles is perceived as a 5* destination and we have to ensure that our products and services are of similar standards. Over my two-day visits I saw some good products and met with optimistic operators who are well up to beat since our re-opening in March. Most of them are doing well but some are still struggling to get visitors on account of various reasons,” Minister Radegonde noted.
Minister Radegonde discussed the concerns and challenges faced by the different operators as well as get ideas on how to improve the industry in a joint effort between the private sector and government.
“Among the challenges brought forward from the visit were a ‘sun flies issue’ along the Côte D’Or Beach, coastal erosion, noise pollution especially from vehicles, speeding on the main Côte D’Or road, lack of street lights, poor road conditions and pavement slabs especially in the Côte D’Or area and dishonest beach boys selling fruits and excursions to visitors,” Minister Radegonde said.
“We are glad to see that the operators are generally ready to assist and contribute towards remediating these challenges; their positive approach is very encouraging. The ministry will discuss with other stakeholders on the best way forward, for example introduction of speed bumps on the Côte D’Or road, increased street lights, beach spraying service against sun flies etc…” the minister added.
During his visit on Praslin, Minister Radegonde and his delegation also met with the ‘tour guides’ of the island. This is in line with the spirit of meeting with various partners of the tourism industry as well as in view of various complaints received against several guides.
“Contrary to Mahé, we have received complaints about unruly behaviour among several tour guides themselves and that shows a lack of professionalism. We discussed the need to address these issues and ensure that we are back on track to help improve rather than disrupt our tourism industry,” the minister said.
Minister Radegonde reminded the tour guides that they are guides of Seychelles primarily and encouraged them to be innovative and bring their services to different areas rather than focusing on the Vallée de Mai only.
He also urged the Seychelles Islands Foundation (SIF) to have stricter measures and code of conduct to govern the tour guides’ behaviour.
The ministry will also be liaising with the Seychelles Licensing Authority for the introduction of a disciplinary committee which will take up further complaints on an individual basis. Failure to comply with rules of trade will lead to suspension or revoking of licenses.
“We have to be stricter in ensuring that we collectively bring up the standards in our tourism industry. A lack of professionalism tarnishes the image of the entire country and ruins all effort made by various stakeholders to maintain or even increase our market share in this very competitive business environment,” the minister said.
Minister Radegonde also shared with us his views on the progress made since the re-opening of the industry in March this year.
“All things considered, I am very satisfied with how the industry has picked up since our re-opening. It was indeed a courageous decision to reopen on March 25, 2021 and I am glad to hear feedback of people accepting that it was the right decision. Despite the fact that we still have community transmission and sometimes surges in Covid-19 cases, we generally remain a safe travel destination and visitors look forward to spending their holiday with us.”
“We have to note that the Indian Ocean is a very competitive environment right now, with Mauritius reopening on October 1 and Sri Lanka and Maldives already open. We have to ensure that we remain ahead of our game and keep the industry booming. We must ensure to give ‘value for money’ to our visitors and always maintain a high standard of products and services.
“Arrival figures are on target so far and I am very optimistic that with the reopening of Western European markets soon, we will achieve much success. In terms of flights, Condor is scheduled to resume next week and Air France next month so that gives us hope for a bright future. Forward bookings are promising so at the end of the day, I am very hopeful and optimistic that our tourism industry will be successful.”
Text: Nadia Bedier
Photos: Romano Laurence