Victoria, Mahe (Seychelles) – July 4, 2017 (travelindex.com) – Last week we spoke in our editorial about Tourism and the importance of understanding this industry. This prompted a lot of feedback from the local tourism trade and interestingly also from staff who depend on tourism for a living. The environmental lobby groups also took time to speak up about the island of La Digue and the need to preserve it by making it an example of an eco-friendly island and a sustainably managed one. This is indeed an excellent project for the Seychelles Ministry of Environment to adopt. In the world of tourism competition is getting tougher and sustainability is a word we need to embrace today as it will give Seychelles the edge it so needs.
The Seychelles Celebrated Independence
On 29th June, Seychelles celebrated its Independence from Great Britain. Forty-one years have elapsed since the day we achieved our Independence in 1976. Seychelles then had a grand coalition between the two main political forces, however this marriage of convenience was to be short lived; just before the first anniversary as an Independent State, a ‘coup d’etat’ took place, consequently installing a new government.
Seychelles today has had four Presidents since our Independence namely: Sir James Richard Mancham (1976 – 1977), Mr France Albert Rene (1977 – 2004), Mr James Alix Michel (2004 – 2016) and since 2016, Mr Danny Faure.
In the Third Republic, a shift in the political landscape has occurred and for the first time in the history of our country, the Executive and the majority of the Legislative branches of Government are from two different political camps. However, it would appear that, despite all pretences, Seychelles is today even more divided than ever. The islands have made progress in a lot of areas but a sad practice lingers which shows a lack of respect of citizens’ democratic rights, and this is the ‘with us or not with us’ strategy by politicians. This shows that the word ‘democracy’ today has been demeaned to mean compulsory adhesion to a political party forgetting the rights of people to simply be a Seychellois and to support who they want and when they want.
In discussions with the ordinary man and woman on the street during the Independence Anniversary celebrations one can appreciate their sense of dejectedness in being able to say that politicians today from both sides of the camp are still not working to benefit the lives of the average Seychellois. The common view is that no one is working to truly look at issues which plague the average Seychellois family, such as cost of basic necessities and essential facilities such as water and electricity. Endless Motions and Committees are still not addressing what touches the ordinary man and woman in their daily life, but Seychelles can confirm it has managed with an Opposition Controlled National Assembly to have a One Country with two Pension Systems, one for the people with the official retirement age and one for a select few even though this was deemed illegal recently before the Courts (Ian Delorie v/s The Republic).
After 41 years since Independence the Government land issue in Seychelles is one area where progress is slowly being made in uncovering past abuses of power, but sadly here only a select group of people are being singled out instead of a wider call for all those in power, whichever side of the political camp they may fall, to declare their ownership of land which they acquired from the State, and to examine whether any rules and regulations were broken when they made their acquisition. However, as slowly as the Seychelles giant tortoise moves along, such irregularities will undoubtedly come out one by one. The ‘pandora’s box’ is now open.
Reunion Island hosts second Humpback Whale World Congress
From the 3rd to 7th July, Reunion Island will be hosting the second Humpback Whale World Congress. This unique congress on a specific species (Humpback Whale) is being chaired by the Region of Reunion under the leadership of Didier Robert, the President of the Reunion Region and Cetamada.
This Congress will also see the drive to have the “Chemin des Baleines” listed as a UNESCO World Heritage asset. This project has had the support of Reunion for four years already and has been pushed by President Didier Robert through the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands. It has also received the support of Taleb Rifai, the Secretary General of the UNWTO.
Reunion Island is one of the 34 hotspots on the annual route of Humpback Whales as they leave the Antarctic Ocean on their way to the warmer Indian Ocean, where they give birth to their calves.
The first edition of this Congress was held in Madagascar and the Reunion edition that will be held at Stella Matutina Museum at Saint Leu is being chaired by Sebastien Folin.
Spanish football star Alvaro Morata on honeymoon in Seychelles
Seychelles remains the honeymoon destination for the Who’s Who in the world and this includes international football stars in search of the perfect holiday or honeymoon destination.
The UK news site MailOnline confirmed last week that the Spanish professional footballer Alvaro Morata and wife Alice Campello have chosen the mid-ocean islands of Seychelles as their idyllic honeymoon getaway. This news has also been reported in several other UK and Spanish news websites.
Alvaro Morata and wife Alice Campello flew to Seychelles after getting married in Venice, Italy. Morata, 24, is a striker for Spanish football club Real Madrid. UK sports media have been reporting that Manchester United is trying to have the Spanish striker transferred to Old Trafford. The speculations of his transfer to the English Premier League continues even as Morata is in Seychelles enjoying the turquoise blue seas and white sandy of the islands.
Seychelles as a rule respects the privacy of the many stars who holiday on its shore but Morata and his new bride Alice have been more than happy to share their snaps in paradise to the world via social media. The most famous of those who did spend their honeymoon in Seychelles was Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011.
UK Television Series to be filmed in Seychelles with Marc Wooton as lead actor
Seychelles is synonymous with beautiful islands and exotic sceneries. The Seychelles Islands will once again be featured in an upcoming international television series. A UK-based production house – Baby Cow Productions — has identified some of the islands’ uncrowded and idyllic beaches as the perfect setting for latest edition of its TV series — High and Dry. Rich in wild nature, the beaches’ backdrop will provide the perfect location for their plot — a plane crash survival on a deserted island — to unfold.
The Seychelles Tourism Board is fully supporting the production with the help of other relevant authorities, considering this will be a huge plus for the country and for its tourism industry.
Announcing the new project, the Chief Executive of the Seychelles Tourism Board, Mrs Sherin Francis, revealed that up to now Baby Cow had been selecting possible locations in Asia for such productions and that the Philippines was originally the preferred location for the shooting that will now be done in Seychelles.
“Thanks to the good relations we have with the production company and a few others in the UK we managed to convince them to choose Seychelles for once and see how it goes and we are happy that they finally agreed to film the series in the Seychelles,” said Mrs Francis. It was Sofia and Alex Panagiotaki who sealed the deal for Seychelles to be the filming location. Sofia Panagiotaki was the MC for an edition of the Carnaval International de Victoria and fell in love with the country.
The filming is expected to last four weeks from July 9th to August 4th 2017. The crew will be shooting scenes at some of the well-known beaches on the Seychelles’ main island, Mahé, namely Anse-Major, Anse du Riz, and the Barbarons beach.
Anse Major, which borders the Morne Seychellois reserve in the northwest of Mahé is accessible by boat or a hike by foot, offering gorgeous coastal views which are popular among both the locals and tourists. This is also where key scenes will be filmed mostly during the weekdays.
As the scenario involves a plane crash on a deserted island, Mrs Francis is calling on the cooperation of all stakeholders, namely the general public, boat owners and other tourism operators during the filming period.
“We are aware that a lot of the beaches especially Anse Major are habitually visited by our locals and visitors, reason why filming will take place on one beach at a time. We cannot restrict access to the beaches but we are simply asking for the cooperation of the general public and tour operators bringing clients to these beaches.
For example, at Anse Major you have two stretches of beaches and only one of them will be used for the production at any given time so that the other one can be available to visitors,” said Mrs Francis.
British comedian Marc Wootton will be the lead actor in the series. The total budget for the filming of the series in Seychelles is around £1.7 million. Baby Cow Productions is financing the entire cost of the production. Marc Wootton is an English character comedian. He is perhaps best known for his role as the fake medium and psychic, Shirley Ghostman, on the BBC Three series, High Spirits with Shirley Ghostman and La La Land.
The Seychelles Tourism Board has assisted mainly in getting them the necessary authorizations. Several local companies including small contractors, boat companies and even a local production house are expected to benefit through the production.
Once the series starts airing on Channel 4 in the UK, although it will not be directly mentioning Seychelles, the fact that the beautiful beaches, clear turquoise waters and lush tropical vegetation will be featured this will help to push Seychelles into the UK limelight, which is a market that has been seeing remarkable increase in visitor arrivals to Seychelles over the last two years.
“With our current budget it would have been impossible to acquire such immense publicity for the Seychelles,” said Mrs Francis, adding that STB is also bringing a PR company onboard to feature a “Behind the Scenes” documentary about the filming.
It is customary for viewers of such TV series to be given the chance to follow what went on behind the making of the production, which is an aspect that one rarely gets to see. This also helps to create a forum for viewers to engage and discuss the series and also the location.
To note that Baby Cow productions established in 1999, is an award-winning production house in the UK with a reputation for producing some much-loved comedy series.
Aside from High and Dry, some of its other productions include Hunderby, Hebburn, The Trip, Gavin & Stacey to name but a few.
Doubletree Hilton Seychelles appoints its first Seychellois Resort Manager
Doreen D’Souza has become the first Seychellois to be appointed as resort manager of DoubleTree by Hilton Seychelles – Allamanda Resort & Spa.
“I am honoured to be entrusted with the position of resort manager at DoubleTree Allamanda, and will ensure that it remains the most hospitable and welcoming resort in the South of Mahe,” said D’Souza.
“I am grateful to the Hilton family for helping me to hone my skills over the years and making me eligible for the role. It is a true privilege to be one of the first female Seychellois on the islands to be given a top managerial position in a leading international hotel chain.”
The appointment is a promotion for D’Souza, who had previously held the position of HR & training manager for Hilton Seychelles Northolme Resort & Spa and DoubleTree by Hilton Seychelles – Allamanda Resort & Spa.
D’Souza also enjoyed a two-year stint working in the UAE as HR & training manager at the Hilton in Abu Dhabi. This latest move is one of the first measures taken by Hilton in the Seychelles to raise the number of women in managerial positions, an initiative resulting from its participation in a ‘Women in Leadership’ conference held last month.
A Hilton veteran, D’Souza joined Hilton Seychelles Northolme Resort & Spa in 2006 as training coordinator, and in six months was confirmed as training manager. In 2010, she took up the position of HR & training manager at Hilton Windhoek in Namibia. As part of the opening team of the hotel, D’Souza set up the HR department and trained the heads of departments and all members of staff.
Two years later, Doreen joined Hilton Abu Dhabi in the UAE as HR & training manager. In 2014, she returned to Seychelles as the cluster training manager, responsible for training the teams at all three Hilton properties in the Seychelles. Bringing 27 years of hospitality expertise to her new role, D’Souza will focus on creating experiences for families and groups to enjoy in the resort’s private location.
“Doreen has always been hard working and focused on results, with the impressive ability to support and develop the team. We take pride in the fact that she will be our first Seychellois resort manager, and the first woman in Africa and the Indian Ocean region to get this title and responsibility,” said Gregory Thierion, General Manager for Hilton Seychelles Northolme Resort & Spa and DoubleTree by Hilton Seychelles – Allamanda Resort & Spa.
Located in Anse Forbans, the DoubleTree Resort & Spa by Hilton Hotel Seychelles – Allamanda has a private beach surrounded by lush tropical vegetation.
Congratulations to Doreen D’Souza. Seychelles is proud of you.
Villa Charme de L’Ile, a new home-grown small hotel to open its door on La Digue end of August
Debbie and Sydney Mills are on the final stages of construction of their new property, the “Villa Charme de L’Ile” on La Digue. The five self-catering apartments consist of 3 well-appointed blocks with an immaculate garden and a small swimming pool. The gardens are an example of the ‘small is beautiful’ concept where flowering orchids are the centre of attention.
The opening date for the Villa Charme de L’Ile is set for the end of August. Congratulations to Debbie and Sydney Mills for this lovely new addition to the La Digue list of tourism establishments.
Mauritius Tourism Professionals well suited for Seychelles
Hotels and resorts in Seychelles are often on the lookout for good staff from overseas because the small population of Seychelles just cannot provide the needed numbers to keep the island’s tourism industry adequately staffed.
The tourism trade of Seychelles knows that Seychellois as staff have the advantage of being trilingual and well versed in Creole, English and French. The French and English languages are today a requirement in the industry more than ever before and this is why professionals coming from the sister island of Mauritius are a good fit; Mauritians, like the Seychellois, speak both French and English.
It is not surprising to see the number of Mauritians on the island increasing and the local tourism trade looking more and more to Mauritius for their recruitments. Over and above the short distance of just over two hours between the two islands by airplane, Mauritians employed in Seychelles come from a tourism background having been previously employed in hotels or resorts in Mauritius.
Mauritius hotel companies are also involved in the Seychelles tourism industry where both Constance Hotels and the Beachcomber Group are today settled in Seychelles. The largest Constance Hotel is actually in Seychelles.
Tourism & Fisheries – Coral Reefs act as vital contributors
Tourism and fisheries remain the main pillars of the Seychelles’ economy, whereby coral reefs act as vital contributors to both these areas of revenue through eco-tourism, and more importantly, the artisanal fishery. In Seychelles, a small fish species known as the rabbitfish makes up the significant proportion of the artisanal fishery, constituting of around 60% of an average annual fishery catch. These small fish are herbivorous and have been shown to help keep reefs healthy by grazing on invasive algae. With such commercial and environmental importance, Ameer Ebrahim, a Seychellois Marine Scientist chose to dedicate his PhD research to investigating the role that rabbitfish play in a marine environment, and their contribution to the resilience of tropical coral reefs. His research is crucial to small island states like Seychelles, as these regions rely heavily on tourism and fisheries for sustenance.
His research is showing that rabbitfish are in fact playing a vital role in maintaining healthy coral reefs. Another significant finding of his studies demonstrates that current marine conservation management efforts around the Seychelles Inner Islands are not working to help promote herbivorous fish numbers. Therefore, in order for Seychelles to secure a future in eco-tourism and fisheries, it is recommended that the government take urgent actions.
Air Seychelles and the Islands tourism board join forces on charter flights from Chengdu to Seychelles
Air Seychelles, the national airline of the Republic of Seychelles, has announced it will operate non-stop charter flights from Chengdu, located in southwestern China, to Seychelles.
The airline will offer flights from the city of more than 14 million people every Wednesday from 19 July through to 23 August, providing six return services in total during the period. Air Seychelles teamed up with the Seychelles Tourism Board (STB) to secure the charter services following a series of promotional events aimed at increasing awareness of the tropical archipelago in China, one of the fastest-growing travel markets in the world.
The capital of China’s Sichuan province, Chengdu is known for its rich cuisine and teahouse culture, shrines and temples, and giant panda sanctuaries, which are home to more than 80% of the wild giant pandas in the world. Roy Kinnear, Chief Executive Officer of Air Seychelles, said: “Our charter flights from Chengdu will be operated on our Airbus A330s, providing a capacity of more than 1,500 seats to our islands.
“We are delighted to have worked together with STB to make these charter flights a reality and look forward to welcoming our first guests from Chengdu and treating them to our famous Seychellois hospitality.” Sherin Francis, Chief Executive Officer of STB, said: “These additional charter flights from Chengdu will go a long way in supporting our strategic efforts to boost inbound tourism numbers from China.
“We worked hand-in-hand with Air Seychelles to secure these charter services and are eagerly anticipating the first direct flight touching down in Seychelles on 19 July.” Roy Kinnear continued: “China has enormous potential for the Seychelles tourism industry and we are keen on continuing to work closely with a number of partners in China to attract a growing number of visitors to our islands.”
Tourism Minister Catherine Afeku of Ghana Visits Tourists’ sites in her Western region to strategize for growth
Minister for Tourism Culture and Arts of Ghana, Hon. Catherine Afeku, recently embarked on a four-day working visit to the Western Region of the Republic of Ghana, to examine the status of tourism in the area. The Minister, who led a delegation of media personnel, private stakeholders and agencies under her ministry, also held a meeting with participants on the marketing and promotional strategies that will drive the numbers of both domestic and international tourists to the area.
The Minister toured notable places like Nkroful, the birth place of late Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first President, Takoradi, Axim beaches, and other tourist attraction sites in the region.
The delegates that accompanied her include The Deputy Minister of tourism, The CEO of Ghana Tourism Development Company, the Chief Director of the Ministry, Official from Ghana Tourism Authority and the Commission of Arts and Culture.
Kaya Tours, one of Ghana’s leading Destination Marketers is been represented by Abeiku Aggrey one of the country’s tourism promoters. Abeiku Aggrey Santana indicated that the promotion of the country’s tourism sector would not only benefit the country financially, but jobs could be widely created for the average youth, in a bit to clamp down the current unemployment rate in the country.
He added that the re-positioning of the tourism and hospitality industry through adequate investment and good services could help the country to earn millions of Ghana cedis just like Dubai is earning from the industry.