In the recently published World Economic Forum’s Travel & Tourism (T&T) Competitiveness report for 2015, Seychelles has scored highly across a range of indices to win second position in the Eastern and Southern Africa category behind only the recognized power house of the continent, South Africa.
The benchmarks employed in the report included prioritization of T&T, international openness, price competitiveness, environmental sustainability, air transport infrastructure, ground and port infrastructures, tourist service infrastructure, natural resources and cultural resources, and business travel.
In the same report, high-scoring Seychelles won 2nd place, finding itself above 3rd placed Mauritius, 5th placed Kenya, 7th placed Tanzania, and 9th placed Zambia out of a total of 18 countries.
“This report clearly shows the underlying strength of Seychelles’ tourism and the fact that, despite our small size and that of our tourism budget, we continue to punch way above our weight, second only to mighty South Africa,” stated the Minister for Tourism & Culture Alain St. Ange.
Despite considerable budget cuts, the Seychelles Tourism Board has continued to successfully diversify its tourism markets outside its traditional European markets, many of which find themselves in economic difficulties. New markets have been successfully opened up in China and South Korea as well as in the UAE, Russia and the CIS block, Africa, and India.
Seychelles has also recovered well from the crippling loss of Air Seychelles’ direct services to Europe which now looks set to be recommenced to Paris in mid-2015 under the current Air Seychelles/Etihad partnership offering a potential boost to tourist figures.
“What we must never lose sight of is the fact that tourism is not one dimensional. Successful tourism has many components which need to work in harmony to be effective. Tourism is not just about clever marketing, because today’s discerning tourist is armed with an arsenal of tools to assist them in making the right choice for their hard-earned vacation: Trip Advisor, Facebook, Twitter, Wayne, and a whole suite of other social media platforms that exist to provide them with the latest information and peer-generated reviews about tourism products the world over. What is of paramount importance to the success of our tourism is that the quality of the product matches our marketing of it,” added Alain St.Ange.
Sherin Naiken, the CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board, went on to outline certain challenges being faced by the industry such as the prohibitive cost of inter-island transportation which undermines the viability of island-hopping, one of Seychelles’ key selling points. Also, the excessive pricing of add-ons by accommodation establishments and service providers such as charging over SCR100 (over US$7) for locally-bottled water.
“Tourism is a collective effort requiring the engagement, commitment, and support of each and every member of our society. When a tourist is burgled or attacked on one of our country’s nature trails, we are all losers. And no amount of clever marketing will make a difference if we lose our reputation for security. Similarly, our pristine environment and its attributes must be properly maintained if we are to continue to attract visitors to what we market as one of the planet’s last sanctuaries for unique nature. Providing adequate human resources for our expanding tourism industry remains a challenge, and I would ask all Seychellois working in the hospitality industry to bear in mind that working in tourism should be regarded as a worthy vocation, not as a part-time occupation, because that will not provide us with the quality we need,” Miss Naiken said. “Our high-scoring position in this report clearly shows that, despite the challenges we face in this extremely competitive industry, we are on the right track and is a vindication of all the hard work being put in by all tourism stakeholders. We should all be proud of our achievement.” Seychelles tourism has confirmed its determination to continue to work to keep Seychelles in the forefront of the tourism world, and this is why the it has now moved the concentration of its action from marketing to the product side of the equation.
The Ministry of Tourism & Culture has also commented on the fact that all the possible negative happenings in Seychelles, the destination that is promoted as the holiday paradise, is today being disseminated to the world for all to know, and this is immaterial if this news tarnishes the image of the same Seychelles in the world of tourism.
Seychelles is a founding member of the International Coalition of Tourism Partners (ICTP).