Tourism Festival concludes on a high note |01 October 2020
Even though this year’s Tourism Festival was celebrated on a much lower scale compared to previous ones, spanning only three days, the festival concluded very much on a high note on Tuesday.
A la carte for the closing day of the festival was a panel discussion with a number of speakers addressing the impact of Covid-19 on tourism followed by the festival’s first food and beverage (F&B) masters, a cocktail making competition.
The 2020 Tourism Festival was themed ‘Tourism: Back with Confidence’ a nod towards the local tourism industry’s slow but gradual recover.
According to principal secretary for tourism, Anne Lafortune, the low-key festival was nonetheless a resounding success.
As anticipated, the panel discussion revolved around the myriad issues propelled by Covid-19 affecting the industry and more importantly the solutions and outlook for the future of tourism in Seychelles.
Moderated by Craig Francourt, the panel consisted of the Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine Didier Dogley, principal secretary for investment Michael Nalletamby, public health specialist and economist Dr Conrad Shamlaye, Sets chief executive Guy Morel, SCCI’s secretary general Iouna Pillay and SHTA member and Creole Travel Services chief executive Guillaume Albert.
The overall consensus from the panel was that actors in the tourism industry can no longer rely simply on Seychelles’ sea, sun and sand, as beautiful as they may be.
Mr Albert reinforced the point noting that the pandemic came as a wake up call for the industry to stop taking travellers for granted and to strive to provide authentic Seychelles cultural experience.
A move towards digital tourism – providing tourism services on online platform – was also highlighted during the discussion, with Minister Dogley observing that the tourism industry should use the time provided by Covid-19 to press reset and brainstorm new ideas and concepts.
The panel also questioned whether the country should focus on low volume, high value and high end tourism, as showcased with the United Arab Emirates delegation.
Although the discussions highlighted the dire conditions caused by the novel coronavirus, the panelists offered stimulating, engaging and eye-opening aperçus to a captivated audience.
The panel discussion was followed by the even more exciting F&B master competition to judge the best mocktail and cocktail of the day, created by five finalists.
The competitors, who passed a virtual preliminary round, consisting of 11 participants, were from Hilton Gastro Lounge, Hilton Labriz, Constance Lemuria Resort, Raffles Hotel and Hilton Northolme.
The jury panel consisted of François Derrien, Gregory De Ryck, Martin Kennedy and Flavien Joubert.
Thirty-three-year-old Selwyn Dick, the only Seychellois in the competition, won with his cocktail Jolie Chauvage inspired by Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.
“It all started in the quarantine time when we were all on lockdown so from there I was working from home and my partner had prepared some curry. The smell of the curry spices evoked a special message and from there I started to develop this drink you see today,” said the mixologist.
Much appreciated by the onlookers, the Jolie Chauvage cocktail is made with curry and lemon leaves, cinnamon infused tequila, black pepper, lemon juice and Takamaka Rum. In the spirit of its theme, Jolie Chauvage was placed in a glass dome like the enchanted rose in Beauty and the Beast.
Wrapping up the festivities, PS Lafortune said: “It was important for us to discuss the theme ‘Tourism: Back with Confidence’ to explain what is happening now and what will we need to do in the future to rebuild and recover from this pandemic.”
“Tourism has been on its knees since March when the whole thing shut down and no tourists were coming in at all. With this industry being the main pillar of the economy, we had no revenue coming in but slowly we came together and met in a task force to decide how do we get back on our feet gradually,” she added.
Seychelles closed its borders to foreigners in April, gradually reopened to allow for private jets and chartered flights in June and welcomed commercial flights back on August 1.