Now that he has completed the Praslin leg of his door-to-door visits of all licensed hotels, whereby he visited a total of 114 hotels, Minister for Tourism and Culture Alain St.Ange last Friday the 10 April kicked off his Mahé tour.
Minister St.Ange visited the Berjaya Beau Vallon Bay Resort & Casino and the Augerine small hotel that is situated right on the beach of Beau Vallon itself. The former being a large hotel and the latter a smaller one, both located right next door to each other in the district considered to be Seychelles’ tourism promenade at Beau-Vallon.
Accompanied by the Principal Secretary for Tourism Anne Lafortune and Seychelles Tourism Board chief executive Sherin Naiken, Minister St.Ange met firstly with the general manager of the Berjaya Beau Vallon Resort & Casino, Mr Gulab Rai, their human resource manager Mr Luc Ally and the Resort’s Management Team in the hotel’s lobby.
The Minister made it clear that this was not an inspection visit but rather a familiarization exercise. One whereby he gets to view each and every Seychelles’ tourism establishment first hand, to witness their successes and deficiencies, to meet with the hotel staff to find out about their challenges and working conditions. He also took the opportunity to advise the managers about the new hotel grading system which is being proposed for a 2016 introduction.
“Berjaya is an old institution in the country, the biggest hotel in the North of Mahé, which is today enjoying a high occupancy rate and employing a considerable number of staff. Each member of your Team has an important role to play that can well make or kill your hotel. It is therefore important to get them on board and be One Team and be up-to-dated with the coming grading system which will be introduced next January.” Minister St.Ange said.
The Minister St.Ange continued by saying, “The country’s marketing is working because the Tourism Board and the Trade are working together to ensure visitor arrival numbers increase to keep the pillar of our country’s economy buoyant. We have heard the call from the Trade partners and from Seychelles as a whole that the yield from tourism needs to increase. This is why we are now focusing on the product side of things and starting with hotels. For the first time that Seychelles will embark on such an elaborate grading or classification system and this will encourage a transparent operating system that we can adhere to because hotels and guest houses all enjoy today a levelled playing field.”
“I would personally encourage hotels to incorporate the Creole flavour in every aspect of their establishments if they want to succeed. This is the feedback we are getting from Tour Operators, Travel Agents, Press and visitors to our country. The time has arrived for our hotels and resorts to have Creole menu nights and entertainment with Creole dancers and musicians. We need to ensure our visitors get a real taste of our Creole welcome, of our spicy and rhythmic Seychellois culture because this is said to be what they want to experience when they visit our country.
“Ensure that we have more Seychellois workers as part of our front line Team at our tourism establishments. They will be more at ease and more in the know to communicate with the guests the better way to find out about Seychelles, and help our tourists fall in love with the island’s Creole flavour.” Minister St.Ange said.
The Minister insisted on visiting the different staff working areas, so as to get the opportunity to meet, talk with the hotel’s staff and show his support for their hard work and commitment towards tourism, the industry that he said remains the pillar of Seychelles’ economy. Minister St.Ange toured the Berjaya’s kitchens, laundry area, stores and offices.
Once done touring the Berjaya Beau Vallon Bay Resort & Casino, Minister St.Ange and his delegation then walked on to Augerine small hotel which forms part of the Seychelles’ Secrets portfolio. With 16 years in operation and expanded on about seven years ago, this small hotel boasts 15 rooms and 12 employees, only one of which is a foreigner. And the proud Seychellois owner Terry Sandapin, stated that they are at the moment fully occupied. After touring the small hotel and also talking to some of the hotel’s guests the Minister gave an interview to the press.
In an interview with the Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation TV crew Minister St.Ange stated that it was refreshing to see a Seychellois hotel where the owner is running a great operation and proudly able to say that he has only one foreigner employee in his Team.
“We are all on the same boat, it is important to embark that boat and let it set sail and journey on successfully. There is a positive energy in the Beau Vallon air today, we need to work together to ensure that this continues in the long term. For Mr Sandapin, one of his main concerns is getting more Seychellois to join the workforce. Staffing problems for hotels is a responsibility of everyone. Let us all join forces and make our tourism industry the success it deserves to be” Minister Alain St.Ange said.
Another one of Terry Sandapin’s concerns in the danger created by the speeding boats in the Beau Vallon Bay, for the tourists swimming or snorkelling in the area.
Minister St.Ange concluded the interview saying addressing this point, “the Seychelles Maritime Safety Administration (SMSA) needs to take this up and send officials to discuss this problem with Beau Vallon Bay hoteliers, to ensure that our Beau Vallon beach is a safe area for tourists and Seychellois alike because as the popular saying goes prevention is better than cure.”