Minister for Tourism visits the small establishments of La Digue |23 August 2021
Returning to his roots, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Tourism, Sylvestre Radegonde, himself a Diguois, set sail to La Digue island, calling on the small establishments in his continuous efforts to familiarise himself with local tourism partners and their products.
Accompanied by the principal secretary for Tourism Sherin Francis, Minister Radegonde began his journey on La Digue on Thursday, August 19, 2021, at Lakaz Safran. This was followed by La Digue Self Catering Apartments, Chez Marston, Domaine Les Rochers, Le Nautique Luxury Waterfront Hotel, Tanette's Villa, Fleur de Lys, Auberge De Nadege, Ylang Ylang, Hyde-Tide Apartments and ending at La Digue Holiday Villas.
The ministerial visits continued the following day starting at Kaz Digwa Self Catering followed by Pension Fidele, Gregoire Apartments, Pension Hibiscus, Lucy's Guesthouse, Cabane Des Anges, Pension Michel, Le Repaire Boutique Hotel & Restaurant, Chez Marva, La Belle Digue Don and finishing off with Belle Amie.
The proprietors on La Digue unanimously agreed that the island is coming back to life as visitors slowly return. Many travellers still find themselves enticed by the island’s charms, especially the tranquillity of the island and the hospitality of the people, finding themselves feeling right at home.
Several of these establishments’ owners had numerous concerns about the lack of reliable labour and endangerment of the La Digue way of life. They also voiced their worries about the increased number of day trippers. As a result of several factors including the decrease in the frequency of boat arrivals to the island which have significantly impacted their occupancy rates, fewer visitors are staying overnight, which has reduced revenue for the island.
With its authentic Creole charm, La Digue has made a name for giving travellers the ultimate cultural experience, however, modernisation has threatened to destroy some of the island’s most unique features.
Minister Radegonde emphasised the importance of preserving La Digue and its way of life. “The Diguois cannot survive on day-trippers, we need to understand why these visitors are not staying overnight. We need to give our visitors something to stay for, which is why we must diversify our products and revive our cultural activities. Although La Digue is one of the few places left in Seychelles which has managed to hold onto the Creole way of life, we need to ensure its survival.”
He further added, “These small establishments pay attention to detail, giving our visitors the authentic Seychelles experience, which is why they need our utmost support. We must explore innovative ideas that will encourage visitors to spend and help these establishments improve their marketing methods.”
PS Francis expressed her satisfaction at the quality of products on La Digue. “Some of these small establishments have the same standards as the bigger, luxury hotels; very spacious and well decorated giving our visitors a lavish feeling while maintaining the Creole charm.”
Minister Radegonde also congratulated the Diguois on the improvement in the cleanliness of the island. He has also noted that there is a good balance of products in terms of accommodation with a strong presence of care and effort put into these products. However, he acknowledged their challenges and how they must shift their focus from the traditional Western European markets and tap into markets, such as Eastern Europe and UAE, which have shown great potential during this pandemic.
These visits are part of Minister Radegonde's ongoing mission to build a strong relationship with the local tourism industry and tackle prominent issues.