Status quo is just not an option in tourism, says Minister St Ange

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Status quo is just not an option in tourism, says Minister St Ange

Post  Sirop14 on Wed Jul 16, 2014 7:33 am

Status quo is just not an option in tourism, says Minister St Ange

Policy reorientation vis-à-vis the marketing of Seychelles and the operational framework for tourism businesses needs to be re-looked at by the Minister St AngeMinistry of Tourism and Culture.

Tourism and Culture Minister Alain St Ange said this while answering questions from a Middle East press organisation on the eve of delivering his opening remarks for the Seychelles Tourism Board’s (STB) mid-year review meeting taking place today at the Savoy Resort & Spa, Beau Vallon.

"The status quo is just not an option. We need to re-look at our strategies in France, Germany and the rest of Europe to ensure we are claiming a fairer share of that European market,” he said.

“We need to re-visit our drive in China and Hong Kong to ensure we work towards our direct non-stop flights and get the visitor arrival numbers we want and need.

“We need to re-strategise in the Middle East and the whole GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries as more can be done in this part of the world from where we have more airlines flying to Seychelles than from anywhere else,” Minister St Ange added.

He said there is also a need to place more emphasis on the fact that we are but four hours away from that part of the world and that they, like other countries, can enter Seychelles with no visa requirements whatsoever.

“We need to examine our presence in South Africa and indeed in the African continent as a whole, and also quickly re-position ourselves in Reunion now that we are enjoying non-stop, direct air access with this neighbouring island,” he added.

Replying to a question on changes which can be expected from what has been in place since he moved from the STB, Minister St Ange said today the country as a whole is conscious that everyone has to play a role in addressing the challenges facing the Seychelles’ tourism industry.

The minister was referring to the first inter-ministerial tourism meeting chaired by Vice-President Danny Faure last week.

In this milestone meeting, four ministers and several principal secretaries, director generals of the civil service joined the Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association and Seychelles Chamber of Commerce and Industry to discuss challenges our tourism industry faces.

"Seychelles has taken a big leap forward through this inter-ministerial meeting where everything deemed to be a challenge to the tourism industry was tabled and discussed in an open, pragmatic and cordial manner,” Minister St Ange said.

“Every minister of the government has a part to play to consolidate the tourism industry, and this first meeting chaired by Vice-President Faure showed clearly from points raised that the private sector needed re-assurance and actions from a cross section of ministries and governmental departments,” explained Minister St Ange.

He cited the importance of opening India ahead of Air Seychelles’ direct flight to that country which is imminent because, given links with India and Seychelles’ geographic location, it is a golden chance to capture the attention of potential Indian visitors and also airline passengers from India travelling through Seychelles to onward destinations in Africa.

He also spoke about the need for the hospitality industry to embrace the Creole culture of Seychelles.

"We have accepted that without our culture, our country's tourism industry would be on an unstable foundation. The need to see more traditional Seychellois Creole cuisine served to our visitors, and to entertain them with more sounds of the Seychellois music is today more needed than ever before,” he said.

The Praslin Culinary and Arts Fiesta to be held in September is aimed at refocusing our traditional cuisine as a unique selling point of our islands.

“We shall help those establishments who are not ashamed to serve Seychellois Creole cuisine in their establishments by ensuring their visibility as a property. We must find more ways to mainstream our culture into our tourism because all our research carried out shows that today’s visitors are in search of touch points where they connect with our culture.”

It is not about sun, sea and sand anymore but rather about providing visitors with authentic experiences of our culture and way of life that they can take home as memories and talk to their friends about, Minister St Ange added.

He also encouraged greater collaboration with Air Seychelles and other partner airlines to ensure that these partnerships are everything it should be, working hard to streamline and render more efficient common protocols where necessary so that Seychelles as a whole does not lose face or credibility with its customer base.

Minister St Ange welcomed greater airline commitment to providing the FOC tickets which are a crucial component for the work by STB in getting our country more known in the world of tourism and in helping trade partners sell Seychelles.

He noted that when the highly volatile tourism industry experiences a downward turn, it is to be expected that tourism agencies fall under scrutiny and accept the lion’s share of responsibility.

However, he said there is another side to this coin: namely that those agencies who are responsible directly or indirectly for tourism must do everything in their power to collaborate efficiently, whole-heartedly and unreservedly in their daily operations to promote our islands in the international arena, open and maintain new markets and achieve market share.

He added that from monitoring forward bookings and load factors it can be seen that some hub airports are facing their own challenges, so all must be done to mitigate our downward turns in traffic.

This will ensure the continued health of airlift to the islands which is recognised as being the lifeline of our tourism industry.

Minister St Ange also spoke about the impact on the livelihood of the Seychellois workforce, and about the implications for every business who has invested in one way or another when the islands’ tourism industry is not performing.

"If we all know this, and if we are all realistic that this hurts the Seychellois and the whole business community, why then are some of us so eager to spread adverse or negative news about Seychelles? Tourism is, and tourism will remain a volatile industry and for its continued consolidation our destination needs to be seen to be a safe one where security at all levels is the name of the game,” he said.

“The malaise of the day must remain our own dirty laundry that we wash among ourselves. Publishing it all for the world to see is just trying to be more catholic than the Pope can ever be himself and serves no purpose whatsoever.

“Many have been watching the recent Fifa World Cup and the fortunes of the teams where one thing became hugely apparent which I believe to be analogous to our tourism industry: that totally irrespective of star players, celebrity strikers and would-be messiahs, those lesser, mortal teams who played as a team, achieved stellar results while the others went home empty-handed,” said the minister.

We should learn from this – that by working together we are greater than the sum of our parts and that together we can reach places and objectives that it would be impossible to reach alone.

“Seychelles, we must play as a team to win big,” Minister St Ange added.


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