Best Of Travel Magazine Brings Out An Indian Ocean Special For The Month Of June With Long Interview With Minister Alain St. Ange Of The Seychelles
Best in Travel Magazine has launched Issue 29, as an Indian Ocean special for the month of June 2015. This edition of the Best in Travel Magazine carries a long interview with Minister Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles Minister responsible for Tourism and Culture on his island’s vision and future plans for their tourism industry (See pages 24 to 27). Seychelles is one country that depends on tourism, the industry that has become the pillar of their economy. The Seychelles Minister announces in this interview that the Government of Seychelles has now shifted attention from marketing on to the product side of things saying that what their Tourism Board is saying the islands are is what must be seen by visitors when they book a Seychelles holiday. Value for money is the drive by the Seychelles in its move to consolidate its tourism industry. Enclosed please find the link:
- BIT:-The Indian Ocean is home to a great many wonderful destinations, what sets Seychelles apart from the competition? ASA:- Seychelles sits firmly as part and parcel of the Indian Ocean Vanilla islands block. We have all rallied together, that is the islands of Seychelles, Mauritius, Reunion, Madagascar, Comoros, Mayotte and the Maldives because we wanted to create a new destination or region using the key USPs (unique selling points) of each of our respective islands as the region’s attractions while respecting the strength or appeal by individual islands to forge ahead with their own personalised marketing when and as needed. I will not tell you about the beauty of the Seychelles white and clean sandy beaches because this you know already, nor will I be telling you of the clean and clear turquoise blue seas of the Seychelles because that also you know. The world of tourism know these unique strong points of Seychelles as they also know that Seychelles has a weather pattern that has given it the name of the tourism island with perpetual summer. But the point that really sets Seychelles apart from other destinations is that we remain a year round holiday destination not running after mass tourism, but one where we follow the policy of personalised tourism only. Seychelles remains the exclusive hide away for all wanting a real holiday with a difference.
- BIT:-Can you tell us a bit about what is in store for new travellers to Seychelles? ASA:- Seychelles is blessed to be a mid ocean group of islands offering diversity to its visitors. Diversity in our islands, we have 115 islands with some being granitic and the rest coralline. The mountain clad granitic islands are unique because we are the only mid ocean granitic islands in the world, and they offer walks and trails through untouched national parks and the flat coralline islands with its spectacular reefs offer dives and snorkelling excursions like swimming in an aquarium. Diversity is also seen in our people called today simply Seychellois but originating from five key branches namely France, Africa, the UK, India and China. These roots have been perfectly blended to give Seychelles the Creole population we call Seychellois. That diversity brings out a unique culture where food, music and dance remains unique attractions in their own right. But Seychelles is also the heaven for big game fishing, for sailing, for island hopping, for swimming which is often referred to as being unrivalled, for bird watching and for being yourself amongst so many other attractions. Seychelles is the home of so many wonders inclusive of the Coco-de-Mer double nut that grows on the island of Praslin and that remains the largest and heaviest nut in world. It is this nut that has helped give the Seychelles the name of the Garden of Eden or simply paradise because of the nut’s erotic shape and of its male catkin, both found on distinctly separate trees.
- BIT:- A number of hotels and resorts in Seychelles have won various travel awards, what do you think makes them so successful? ASA:- Hotels and Resorts in Seychelles have grown to become what is expected of homes in paradise. Hotels are like, and should be your home away from home. In Seychelles they have adapted to be just that. Small in size for most of them, but with a clear eye for being the best of the best. This is why Seychelles has become the holiday destination for Royalty and famous Stars. Today the list of visitors speak for itself, and described simply with those who have been to Seychelles and the others. From ‘one island one resort’ concept, to home grown Seychellois concepts, to boutique hotels and to those suited for our groups and incentive markets. We have the whole range, all offering the plus that helps make Seychelles the destination with a difference.
- BIT:- Speaking of awards, congratulations on being selected as a host for the 2015 World Travel Awards. What do you think lead to this and what does this mean for Seychelles? ASA:- Thank you, we are indeed proud to have been chosen as the host country for the 2015 World Travel Awards. It must be remembered that the World Travel Awards remains the event that rewards the best of the best. What a better place to hold such an award that in Seychelles where spectacular hotels and resorts blend themselves into our pristine environment. Seychelles has been more visible than it has ever been since the last couple of years. This brings focus on our islands because the visibility ensured we remain relevant always. The word of mouth we enjoy has been helped by the press coverage we get from the cultural events we organise starting with the annual Carnaval International de Victoria that has now been named the Carnival of Carnivals because it remains the only carnival that manages to bring together all the best and most popular carnivals to parade side by side and followed by cultural troupes from the Community of Nations. This event alone attracts to Seychelles year after year the most important press houses and the publicity the islands get from that cannot be measured at all. We have achieved this because, as islands, we were not ashamed of our culture and we proudly stated that through an event that showcased our culture we were putting our people in the centre of our tourism development. Getting the World Travel Award to be held in Seychelles, or continuously receiving personal invitations to address tourism conferences in the four corners of the globe, are just signs that Seychelles is today noticed and taken seriously in the competitive world of tourism.
- BIT:- How are you preparing for the prestigious event? ASA:- Seychelles is just going to be the welcoming tourism destination is has been and remains to be. Our Tourism Board is the body mandated to work alongside the World Travel Awards organisers to ensure the event is what is expected of an event held in Seychelles. What is important is for our culture to be showcased,as it remains important for the natural beauty of our islands to radiate in the Award Ceremony itself. Suffice to say we shall ensure that the those chosen to be in Seychelles because they are the best of the best will be received, in what is today accepted as being as unique a tourism destination as can be.
- BIT:- What other big events do you have coming up that tourists and travellers can look forward to? ASA:- Seychelles organises a suite of cultural events throughout the year. Seychelles has understood the message that tourism will be consolidated through the promotion of culture and one’s culture will be protected when it is able to form part and parcel of the tourism industry. Even though Seychelles is renowned to have the best for a sun, sea and sand holiday, it moved down the path of placing its culture, and in so doing its people at the centre of its tourism marketing and development way before the UNWTO and UNESCO organised their conference in Cambodia on just that topic. Today we have two big cultural events:- the April Carnaval International de Victoria and the October Festival Creole. Then we have a range of smaller cultural events to mark what makes the people of Seychelles the strong and capable people we are. These include our La Fete de La Francophonie, our Africa Day celebrations called FetAfrik, the marking of Commonwealth Day, the Seychelles-India Day Celebrations and the Seychelles-China Day Celebrations. These five feasts culminate into the annual October Festival Creole, as it celebrates who we are today. We also have tourism support celebrations such as the Ocean Festival in November marking our attachment to our Blue Economy and the Culinary & Arts Fiesta on Praslin, the 15th August La Fete La Digue, an Arts Fair, the Miss Seychelles Pageant and the Seychelles Ball that marks World Tourism Day every year. Through this panorama of events we see our culture in all its form, and the world is invited through them to get to better understand us and to get to know us.
- BIT:- What are some of the newer and up and coming developments that future and repeat visitors can look forward to? ASA:- Seychelles is now set on consolidating its tourism industry for the long term. The Government of Seychelles has now declared well over 52% of its total land area as protected natural reserves. This is because we want the unique attractions we have to still be here for generations to come. The Government wants to be recognised and remembered as having been good custodians of what we have been blessed with. On the hotel front we are moving our emphasis from only the marketing of our islands to placing greater emphasis on the product itself. For this we are preparing a hotel classification or grading system which will be introduced on the 1st of January 2017. We are conscious that what we say we are, we need to be. This is why future visitors and repeat clients will see that buildings are one thing, but value for money and the culture of service will be given more attention than ever before. This will come with a new drive to inculcate our culture into the hotels to ensure our visitors live that special feel when they are in Seychelles. We are also looking at maintaining the tourism industry as one that reflects Seychelles, which is why we have embarked on a Carrying Capacity for our islands that will go side by side with the country’s Land Use Plan. This will give us a sound and well balanced tourism industry that will continue to be guided by our well integrated Tourism Master Plan.
- BIT:- The Seychelles offers almost everything a traveller could hope for, but if there’s one thing that every visitor to the island must do, what would it be? ASA:- Seychelles is not one island but remains the destination with diversity of islands and each one, as accessible as they are to everyone, all offer specificities that should not be missed. Island hopping is a must for visitors to Seychelles. A two or three island visit should not be missed. We have fast ferries, as we have helicopter charters or plane transfers. For those with time and on a budget, the local schooners still today provide a ride from and to the main island of Mahe to Praslin and La Digue. Seychelles is not the destination where you become a prisoner in your hotel, get out and visit the islands, and let yourself soak in all the unique attractions that make Seychelles the mid-ocean paradise they are.
- BIT:- And lastly, as the Minister of Tourism, what is your favourite thing about the Seychelles, what endears you to it? ASA:- Appreciating what we have and what we can offer to our visitors. As Minister responsible for Tourism and Culture I travel a lot to get into our market place, and do my bit to sell Seychelles, but coming home I am always overtaken by the beauty of our islands. Our way of life, our culture, our food and our music. Our dancing and our friendly people remain what endears not only me, but also my CEO for the Seychelles Tourism Board Sherin Naiken, and Anne Lafortune, my PS for Tourism and Benjamine Rose my PS for Culture. Together as a united team we strive to keep what we have culturally as we promote Seychelles as the tourism destination well worth a visit.
Best in Travel Magazine has launched Issue 29, Indian Ocean special for the month of June 2015, enclosed please find the link: