Wolfgang Thome has written on the 22nd December 2016 on his Aviation, Tourism and Conservation News latest development happening in Seychelles as follows:- No Carnival, No Visibility, Less Tourists it is that simple. One of the Seychelles biggest tourism success stories, the annual Carnival International de Victoria, has come into the cross hairs of the former opposition, now holding the majority in the Seychelles Parliament, as members of that political group have put pressure on the Minister for Youth, Sports and Culture, under which auspices the festival now falls, to drop the event. Among the most outspoken was one Wavel Ramkalawan, Nichola Prea and Ahmed Afif doubting the marketing impact for the islands of the annual carnival while conveniently overlooking the broad based support among Seychellois for the event.
The Seychelles Carnival has in a short period of time become the fifth most popular international carnival festival around the world and has seen similar events being staged now on the African mainland too.
Regular media attendees from around the world, representing major global media houses, have already expressed their incredulity over the development, one not mincing words when she wrote to this correspondent: ‘These politicians are putting Seychelles tourism success at risk for their own ends. They are the kind of people who cut off their nose to spite their faces! Should the festival really be dropped will Seychelles global visibility swiftly diminish, and I dare say with very very negative consequences. This has over the years become the highest profile event used by Seychelles Tourism Board to showcase the destination. Seychelles has for years now punched well above their weight when it comes to size of the country versus visibility on a global scale, brand recognition on a global scale. How can these people risk Seychelles most vibrant economic sector, unless it is in their agenda to ruin the country by wrecking tourism. This year will for the first time over 300.000 tourists visit the country we have been told by STB and the benefits are wide spread through the entire population. I have spoken to several individuals already who like I do feature in print, by audio and video the Seychelles’ carnival and they are all shell shocked‘.
Two small scale hotel owners from Praslin and the owner of a larger hotel on Praslin also expressed their bewilderment that the festival could be cancelled as part of a political agenda, one writing a few hours ago: ‘This year for the first time we welcomed part of the carnival on Praslin. It was a big boost for us. We were informed that in 2017 a larger number of international carnival troupes could come from Mahe and do a mini parade on Sunday morning. Let us not forget how many jobs depend on tourism, how our small hotels need tourists to fill the beds. I have invested everything I have in my venture. This year bed occupancies have improved because numbers of tourists have gone up. If numbers reduce, we will be the first victims of bad, divisive and ultimately failed politics‘.
An immediate contact made to the Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine, Mr. Alain St. Ange, only affirmed what others had already mentioned, that this festival, like some other high profile events, now do fall under the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, leaving his own ministry as a mere spectator when it comes to organizing the event, albeit a spectator with a deeply vested interest.
Other regular contributors from the islands went even further and alleged that the opposition was out to create economic anarchy and was intent to introduce divisive politics into the Seychelles similar to what has been seen on Madagascar and some other Indian Ocean islands.
Speculation is already emerging among media representatives regularly covering the carnival festival that the Seychelles’ Indian Ocean islands rival Mauritius may swiftly step into the breech should the Seychelles Tourism Board have to pull out of the event.
Mauritius could use such an opportunity to get tourism marketing and promotion back on track and into overdrive, something which has been lacking for some time when under the ill fated past leadership at MTPA of one Karl Mootoosamy copycatting the Seychelles was the order of the day but failed to make any impact at the time.