Tourism Review 2021 |31 December 2021
In the spotlight: A year of adaptation and recovery
Despite the challenges of international lockdowns and being placed on various countries’ red lists for most of 2021, the national strategy of vaccinating the local population, instituting strict health protocols and opening the destination fully to visitorson March 25 has paid dividends, allowing the country, on its knees for over a year, to restart its economy.
The Seychelles tourism industry has stayed the course, meeting the challenges head on, adapting to rapidly shiftingchanges anddeveloping new source markets and engaging in activities that put it on its path to recovery.
As the Seychelles islands welcomed a new Minister for Foreign Affairs and Tourism ‒ Sylvestre Radegonde ‒ one of the major changes that followed was the restructuring of the tourism department, whereby the previous tourism department and the Seychelles Tourism Board were merged into one entity.
As a result of this new structure, Tourism Seychelles saw the appointment of Sherin Francis as principal secretary for Tourism and three new director generals (DGs) ‒ Jenifer Sinon, the previous deputy chief executive of STB as DG for human resources and administration division; Bernadette Willemin, who served as the regional director based in Paris for the last 11 years as DG at the helm of the destination marketing division; and Paul Lebon with solid expertise in the private sector as DG for destination planning and development.
Record breaker –surpassing 2020 figures
Monday October 11, 2021, Seychelles marked a milestone with its 114,859thvisitor stepping off a Qatar Airways flight, officially surpassing the total number of visitors recorded for the year 2020.
Fortune smiling twice, honeymooners Tim and MarlienGentges, who were escaping to Seychelles from autumn in Germany, were welcomed with a special surprise as the record-breaking visitors, as well asby a serenade from local dancers and tokens from the tourism department. The couple were alsohosted by the tourism department for an excursion aboard Mason’s Travel’s Anahita catamaran where they were given an experience of paradise.
Seychelles at Expo 2020
With all eyes on Dubai, Seychelles took its seat at the Expo 2020 fromOctober 2021 until March 31, 2022.
Seychelles is being represented at the Expo through its own pavilion under the theme ‘Treasure Nature, Preserve Nature’ with the participation of various national entities, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and volunteers where the destination’s natural lush environment, opportunities for investment and its achievements towards sustainability and nature conservation are being showcased.
The island nation was also placed front and centre during its Expo National Day on October 28, 2021, where the day took off with an official ceremony and continued with events and activities highlighting our culture, progress and investment opportunities in the presence of President Wavel Ramkalawan and his delegation.
Experience Seychelles – a team effort
Since its launch, Experience Seychelles, part of the tourism industry’s recovery plan, has become one of Tourism Seychelles’ greatest success stories.
This year, the ‘Experience Seychelles; Grand Diversity, Nature’s Sanctuary, Creole Rendezvous’ campaign was rolled out, exploring three key pillars of the destination.
The Experience Seychelles project possesses a unique Creole touch with a vibrant, Seychellois team behind the scenes.
Guiding the Experience Seychelles campaign are director general human resources and administration Jenifer Sinon, director for digital marketing Chris Matombe and senior marketing executive Myra Fanchette, assisted by marketing executive Ingride Asante, ensuringthe campaign plays out flawlessly.
Behind the scenes, keeping the digital side in check are senior digital marketing executive Nadine Shah and digital marketing executive Rick Samy.
Giving Experience Seychelles its voice, Sandra Bonnelame, Marie-Julie Stephen, and Aisha Joubert illustrate the archipelago’s Grand Diversity, Nature Sanctuary and rich Creole heritage.
Breathing life to these wonderful words, Randy Rosalie, videographer at Seychelles Tourism,trekked the islands capturing its natural beauty, rich diversity and colourful culture, creating videos which entice explorers to discover the true essence of the Seychelles Islands.
Where would a digital campaign be without its graphic designers who put together the branding and provide marketing materials? With senior graphics designer Eileen Hoareau, and graphic designer Derrick Baccus, the Experience Seychelles brand was given its dynamic looks as well as ensuring it maintains the high standards the destination is known for.
With a hands-on team who dedicate themselves to bringing their beloved tourism industry back to its full glory and prepared to tackle any challenge before them, the future Experience Seychelles campaign remains promising.
Cruise ship season
Seychelles took a step further in the recovery of its industry with the launch of the 2021-2022 cruise ship season on Thursday November 18 with smaller vessels and new health protocols after its hasty closure in February 2020 as Covid-19 hit the worldwide cruise business head on, precipitating a hasty end to the season...
Kick-starting the season Le Ponant group’s flagship‘Le Bellot’, sailed into Port Victoria on the first of 19 port calls and is expected to transport some 5,700 visitors around the various islands of the archipelago including Praslin, La Digue and Curieuse.
Celebrating the return of cruise ships on its shores, passengers embarked on the first 2021-2022 cruise, to the sound of traditional local music and received local souvenirs from the department of tourism.
This year’s Tourism Festival,an extension of the annual World Tourism Day celebrated on September 27 and initiated by the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO),was celebrated locally from September 27, 2021 until October 2, 2021 under the theme ‘Shaping our Future’.
Marking the annual Tourism Week, several activities took place, including an address by the minister responsible for tourism Sylvestre Radegonde to the National Assembly, the unveiling of the persons being honoured as ‘Tourism Pioneers’, a series of appearances and discussions on local media and social media platforms involving key industry figures as well as children interviewing tourism personalities and the launch of a photography competition among others. Finally, reinforcing the destination’s commitment towards sustainability and its efforts to remain a green destination a tree planting activity took place where members of the Seychelles community were invited to remotely participate by planting a tree.
In a press conference held at the tourism department offices at Botanical House on Tuesday December 7, 2021, Seychelles launched Open Ocean Project with German extreme swimmer, André Wiersigconfirminghis intention to be the first international athlete to make history by swimming from Mahé to La Digue next year in April, shining a light on sustainability in Seychelles by promoting the ocean as livelihood and habitat.
Mr Wiersig aims, through his participation in the Open Ocean Project, to promote Seychelles’ efforts for sustainability focusing on the ocean as means of support for the local people and habitat for various species including some endangered ones.
Doubling its efforts to boost the restart of the tourism industry initiated in August 2020, the tourism department focused much of its marketing activitiesthroughvarious virtual events.
Annual roadshows in the GCC Roadshow and North America were held virtually as the team continued its mission to boost interest for the destination. Tourism Seychelles’teams around the world continued on their mission,establishing and fostering stronger relationships with trade partners, reuniting trade partners to keep them abreast of the latest developments on the islands in regards to the measures in place for the safety of guests. Additionally, trade partners were familiarised with the islands through product video presentations and other personalised meetings,giving them a deeper insight into what Seychelles has to offer.
The destination also participated in virtual events namely the WTM Africa in Cape Town, South Africa the FVW Counter Days in Germany and at the roadshows in Italy; featuring in events webinars, workshops, talks and individual appointments, providing a platform for local partners to present their products while giving exposure to the destination.
With the situation beginning to improve progressively around the world, the team participated in a few in-person events in China and some European cities.
Exploiting the opportunities for exposure, Seychelles participated in the Dong Luxury Travel Connection Roadshow in China in April during a three-day event, where the team reconnected with the old and meet new luxury trade partners within the market and discuss the way forward in the new normal.
The Tourism Seychelles team joined forces with airline partner Qatar Airways in Switzerland to organise a meeting with travel, media and industry professionals in Zurich with the aim to reinforce the destination’s visibility on the market. The in-person event featured a press conference and a lunch meeting, attracting not only trade partners but also media collaborators.
With favourable conditions on their side, team Seychelles made its mark by being physically present at the 2021 IFTM Top Resa exhibition, France’s main international trade fair dedicated to tourism. The small delegation led by DGfor destination marketingBernadette Willemin, represented the destination at the four-day event held at the Porte de Versailles in the French capital, Paris. The trade fair was a great opportunity to showcase the islands’ products to the travel trade and the press and bring forward the different experiences on offer for visitors.
The Tourism Seychelles team from headquarters and United Kingdom were present at several events notably the Travel Gossip Roadshow in September, the annual Aviareps roadshow in Hungary in October while the Tourism Seychelles team in Italy partnered with Club Med to host a series of events to promote Seychelles across Italy.
Intensifying media exposure across the globe as it countered the impact of being placed on numerous countries’ red lists, the destination engaged on various media campaigns with several prominent channels such as CNN throughout the year, featuring the scenic images of the destinations and interviews with the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Tourism Sylvestre Radegonde and the principal secretary for Tourism, Sherin Francis.
The Tourism Seychelles team also hosted several media and familiarisation trips through its various offices to provide a wider reach to the destination and help rebuild confidence in travel to the pristine Indian Ocean paradise islands.
The tourism department’s embraced its mission to focus on thedevelopment of the tourism industry through the promotion of product diversification and enhancement.
Guiding the industry into the digital age, the Seychelles Tourism Board, now the tourism department, launched a new tourism digital platform named ‘ParrAPI’ on Monday April 12, 2021.
ParrAPI was created to help tourism operators across 12 categories to extend their exposure and attract more business online with cost-effective digital marketing. The data provided by the operators themselves is quality assured and approved by the tourism department and can be shared with online distributors who promote Seychelles’ tourism products and services across the globe. Behind the scenes of ParrAPI was the digital marketing team who headed the project since 2019.
In efforts of strengthening his relationship with actors within the local tourism industry, Minister Radegonde has been conducting a series of ongoing visits to industry partners, facilitating his work in tackling the challenges faced by the industry under his portfolio.
With small establishments making a large contribution towards the country’s tourism industry, Minister Radegonde has made it his mission to familiarise himself with as many as possible, starting with the main island of Mahé, visiting the south, north and central areas. Minister Radegonde has also extended his visits to Praslin and La Digue, both extremely popular tourist spots which gave him an opportunity to make observations to the community on the range of products as well as issues offered on the various islands.
The minister and his delegation took the opportunity to call for thediversification of products and services, highlighting the need to enhance visitor experience through the inclusion of the Seychellois creole culture and heritage in our tourism offerings.
In addition, Minister Radegonde also held various meetings with several industry partners including destination management companies (DMCs), tour guides, taxi operators and yacht owners,connecting with new members of the industry and tackling prominent issues.
Safeguarding the future of the tourism industry, Minister Radegonde and PS Francis also met with Shannon College graduates, analysing their progress and welcoming their concerns to the table with the aim of finding solutions and improving the programme which aims to allow Seychellois youth to access and maintain management positions in the hospitality industry.
Awards and recognition
An island paradise hosting a world of wonders from pristine surroundings to colourful Creole culture, the Seychelles islands have made a global impression, winning several prizes this year alone.
Two of the Tourism Seychelles ‘Experience Seychelles’ videos landed among winners of this year’s World Tourism Organisation’s ‘Tourism Video Competition’. Presenting their ‘Experience Seychelles’ and ‘Creole Rendezvous’ videos under the ‘Tourism and the Decade of Action’ and ‘Exceptional Stories of Sustainable Tourism’ categories, the Tourism Seychelles campaign videos emerged top for the African region.
Pearly white beaches and emerald rainforests have proven to be the perfect backdrop for a lover’s getaway, all that Seychelles offers. The island destination defended its title as the World’s Most Romantic Destination this year as the World Travel Awards crowned the destination for a second consecutive year. In the Indian Ocean region, Seychelles was also awarded with Leading Honeymoon Destination, Leading Cruise Destination and Leading Sustainable Tourism Destination, a title it has held onto for three consecutive years.
Reclaiming yet another title, Seychelles scooped for the fourth time, the prestigious Travel + Leisure 2021 World’s Best Award as the top island destination in Africa & the Middle East.
Additionally, the destination took away the GorgeousRun award for ‘The world’s Top Ten Gorgeous Coastline Marathon’. The GorgeousRun platform that connects Chinese marathon runners with other marathon destinations such as Seychelles, enticing fitness enthusiasts to experience a different side of Seychelles.
Air connectivity – ‘the great come-back’ of the year
The improvement of the sanitary situation in many countries has contributed to the restart of travels around the world. The restart of the local tourism industry has been supported by the return of many airline partners on the shores of Seychelles.
As traditional markets were hit with stringent restrictions on travel and lockdowns, charter and scheduled flights from new countries and cities have contributed to extend the reach of the small tourism destination to the world,giving rise to new sourcemarkets, with Russia, Israel and UAE rising to prominence throughout 2021.
The highlight of the year remains the return of the Russian airline company Aeroflotin April after a 17-year break. The inaugural eight-hour and thirty-five minute flight was hailed as the ‘great comeback’ of the year 2021. Aeroflot, which started with twice-weekly flights between the two countries, added a third frequency in May and one more flight the month after to its schedule.
Also resuming their flights to the sandy shores of Seychelles in 2021 were airline partners Turkish Airlines which started in April. Air France, Edelweiss, Condor and Kenya Airways resumed their journey to the Seychelles International Airport at Pointe Larue again in October.
Contributing to the revival of the local tourism industry regional airline partners, Sri Lankan Airlines and Air Austral added their names to the list of airlines serving Seychelles earlier this month while Emirates airlines added more flights for the festive season.