2021 Tourism mid-year virtual marketing meeting: |28 July 2021
Minister Radegonde calls for innovation, diversification and nature preservation
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Tourism Sylvestre Radegonde yesterday renewed his call to players in the domestic tourism sector to be innovative, to diversify the product offering to visitors, in addition to striving to remain an environmentally-sustainable destination, towards meeting the needs and expectations of future visitors.
Minister Radegonde made the call to industry partners during the 2021 mid-year virtual marketing meeting, which kicked off yesterday morning at the Botanical House, and will officially come to a close on Friday August 6.
In starting, Minister Radegonde said the country as a tourism destination is faced with many challenges, both on the domestic and international front. With the closure of core visitor markets as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic which resulted in a significant decline in tourist arrivals, challenges need be addressed towards the recovery, and a more resilient tourism industry.
Highlighting the issues, he first noted that financial resources will be a major challenge in the 2022 national budget, on account of pressure on government resources and the state of the economy. With regards to the labour force, the minister noted an insufficiency and inadequacy of trained personnel, although he assured partners of the work to try and make the process to obtain gainful occupation permits (GOPs) “as painless as possible” when they fail to find personnel locally.
To remedy the lack of skilled labour on the local market, the focus for the Seychelles Tourism Academy (STA) under the new leadership of its director, Terence Max, is to train the workforce that the industry needs, with the focus on quality instead of quantity in terms of uptake of students.
“Littering is a challenge we need to address. We need more bins and facilities for people to dump their rubbish, or at least find a way to educate people to bring their rubbish with them back home. Public toilets on beaches, people have talked about that for years and we are nowhere near what we should be doing,” said Minister Radegonde.
“The percentage of repeaters in Seychelles remains very low. That is a problem and an issue that we need to seriously address. Sub-standard service and accommodation, it is, and continues to be an issue and we need to, with the department of tourism address that. We do not appear to be pulling in the same direction all the time. I wish there was a little bit more cohesion,” Minister Radegonde said.
In relation to the level of service provided, it is imperative that players strive for consistency, and with limited resources be more creative at all levels of the chain, towards actions which are more targeted.
“We need to work and I am glad that we started some work to get a programme in place, to diversify, and that is where we are pushing cultural tourism and others in the districts to get the visitors to go out, not only for their own experience, but also to provide the locals with a form of revenue, and get them engaged with this industry,” the minister added.
Among the other challenges the minister addressed are noise pollution, and offering visitors value for money, which also applies to certain sectors of government service, he said, questioning why there is an entry fee for Mission Lodge and L’Union Estate when there are no attractions at the sites.
Despite the hurdles, Minister Radegonde remains optimistic about the reorganisation in the department of tourism, and the addition of the two director generals as of September. The successes of recent months of work include the reduction in the Travisory platform fees to €10, from €45. So as to make the arrival experience even more pleasant for visitors, a policy to eliminate the disembarkation card process is expected to be implemented soon. Through Travisory, authorities can still access information they need.
“One good thing we are doing is relooking at the small enhancement programme and with that the Seychelles secrets brand, we need to bring that more actively onboard. Work with the small establishments to bring them up to a reasonable standard, so that we can include them in our Seychelles secrets band and be able to help them with their marketing and really sell that Seychelles experience. We would like to relook at the accommodation policy,” Minister Radegonde concluded his address.