A group of registered and licensed tour guides from Mahe in Seychelles met the Minister for Tourism and Culture Alain St.Ange recently to discuss challenges that their respective businesses face, and to find ways of alleviating these constraints.
The meeting that was held at the National Cultural Centre in Victoria last week was chaired by Minister St.Ange. Also present were the principal secretary for tourism Anne Lafortune and the chief executive of the Seychelles Tourism Board Sherin Naiken.
Minister St.Ange said the meeting is part of a series being held with operators in the tourism industry to listen to tourism operators and to analyze together the constraints that are affecting their businesses. He added that this is a way to remain connected with people in the tourism industry and to keep working together so as to ensure tourism as an industry remains the pillar of the Seychelles economy.
Some of the issues raised by these tour guides were dealings with hotels, the marketing of tour guiding, training and the state of nature trails across the country.
Discussion also centred on the need to let tour guiding be solely for Seychellois people and not for foreigners. Those who voiced out this concern said there is an increase in the number of foreigners working in hotels who are today doing tour guiding.
They added that the foreigners, most of the time butlers from hotels, should only accompany the local tour guides as translators but should not be the ones showing tourists around and talking about our flora and fauna because they are firstly not conversant in the matter and secondly their work permit does not cover such work.
Another tour guide operator suggested that evening classes should be organised at the Seychelles Tourism Academy for tour guide operators so that they can learn foreign languages.
The issue of taxi drivers was also brought up during the meeting, whereby it was voiced out that taxi drivers are meant to take passengers from point A to point B only and should not be doing tour guiding. Other operators has called on the authorities concerned to ensure that the trails are properly maintained as visitors complain on the state of nature trails.
Mervin Mathieu who is a tour guide operator said since these trails are not being maintained, it would be a good idea if tour guide operators who adopt a nature trail they are used to, giving the example of how with the help of his wife, he has ‘adopted’ the trail not far from his residence, ensuring that it is always clean and clear.
But as guides, they do not only show the flora and fauna of Seychelles, they also tour the various sights in the country and our town is not an exception. Complaints about the state of the area in front of the Sir Selwyn Selwyn-Clarke market in Victoria were also brought forward during the meeting.
Another idea which was brought forward was that of forming an association was welcomed by all those present. Minister St.Ange said this is a great step forward, adding that by having an association, they will be in a better position to meet as a representative body to help find solutions to their problems. Representatives from La Digue and Praslin will also be able to join the association.
Minister St.Ange reaffirmed the Ministry of Tourism and Culture’s support towards the operators involved in the tour guiding business, adding that they are a vital part of our tourism industry.
He called on them to work together and keep the spirit of togetherness within their association when it is formed, and to help protect the Seychelles Brand.
Minister St.Ange showed those present a copy of “Inside Seychelles”, the newly published tourism newspaper which he said they can have their businesses advertised in as this will not only be at the International Airport but on several airlines and at trade fairs organised across the world.