Visitor numbers continue to surpass expectations |06 July 2022
By Marla Simeon
Visitor arrivals to Seychelles as well as visitor spending continue to surpass expectations and so far there is no indication that this will change.
This was said by the principal secretary for tourism, Sherin Francis, during the mid-year marketing meeting hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Tourism yesterday at the Savoy Resort and Spa, Beau Vallon.
The aim of the meeting was for the ministry to discuss the developments and marketing strategies for the next six months with its overseas and local partners.
Also present for the meeting were the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Tourism, Sylvestre Radegonde, the director general for Marketing, Tourism Seychelles, State of Business, Bernadette Willemin; the director general for Destination Planning and Development, Paul Lebon; partners and staff of the ministry.
The meeting was an opportunity to reunite local trade partners and destination marketing representatives (locally and internationally) to discuss the current developments of the market for Seychelles and what strategies Seychelles will focus on in the next six months.
Addressing the gathering, PS Francis stated: “We continue to pass expectations in terms of visitors’ numbers and visitors’ spending and so far there is no indication that this will change.” She added that despite the negative factors such as the impact of the war between Russia and Ukraine, visitors continue to arrive. She noted that this is due perhaps to having been cooped up for too long in their apartments during the Covid-19 pandemic.
However a recent report published by Oxford economics show that while there has been high demand for travel, high frequency data also point to slowing demand for other services.
The PS reminded the participants that “we are not out of the woods yet”.
“Let us not take these short few months of success as a fait accompli…We need to stop overcharging clients, we need as an industry to be more in solidarity with one another,” she urged, advising not to go after ‘fast buck’ but to rather have a more long-term strategy.
Minister Radegonde also reiterated what the PS had said, noting that Seychelles lost a great share of the Russian market which was very lucrative for the country.
He also added that “by next week or the week after we will be relaxing the Covid measures further and we will be able then to get Seychelles back to what it should be”.
So far from January 1, 2022, till end of June, Seychelles has received 153,609 visitors. And in terms of spending in the country, just over US $220 million,” said the minister.
The minister highlighted that by all indications, Seychelles is going to surpass the target set for this year in terms of tourism arrival.
He noted that he could comfortably say that Seychelles can end the year with 300,000 visitors and he does not foresee any crisis in the near future.
The biggest concern however remains the yield as over 90% of what visitors spend today are on accommodation and under 10% on other services.
Minister Radegonde noted that Seychelles need to do better which is why his ministry has been working on a programme for the past two years called ‘Cultural or community tourism’.
He said the programme is to get visitors to spend in the community that provides the visitors with additional activities to do and diversifies the products on offer.
“There is a difference in getting them to spend and ripping them off,” he stressed.
The average arrival per day is at 703 visitors and the target is 707. The top ten markets since January 1 is France, Germany, Russia, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Italy, Switzerland, Israel, United States and South Africa.
Both the minister and the PS stressed that competition is higher and the service industry needs to perform better.
The minister further added that activities such as ‘bazar labrin’ will make a comeback at Beau Vallon with more authentic Seychelles products. Such activities will not be limited to Mahé only and the ministry has plans for La Digue and Praslin as well.
German visitors has topped the 2019 figures and is set to regain source position by the end of the year as the UK approaches 2019 levels of visitors at a slower pace.
DG Willemin presented the mid-year review for the department in terms of market intelligence, Seychelles position and what is expected.
She added that Seychelles recovered faster in the first quarter of this year (January to May). She added that all signs show that Seychelles can now pick up from where it left two years ago.
In terms of market performance the top European markets are France, Germany and Russia followed by the top Asian markets – United Arab Emirates, Israel and India.
Top African markets are South Africa, Reunion and Nigeria with top Oceanic Market Australia and Top American market United States.
So far in market share by continent Europe dominates with 74.69%, Asia 15.05%, Africa 6.48% and Oceania 0.3%.
When it comes to customer satisfaction average cleanliness is 93.02%, location 93.25%, room 89.67% with service and entertainment the lowest at 86.70% and 73.73% respectively.
The annual tourism earning in US dollars is 184 million in 2022 compared to 2021 which was 310. The department predicts a project of the first four months times three.
So far the 2022 air travel search data are close to 2019 level which was at 97%. Hotel occupancy also started to surpass 2019 and premium airline classes are recovering in line with the economy travel. IATA expects air travel to exceed pre crisis level worldwide by 2024.
The department also cumulated the potential upside of the pandemic such as more work or leisure time flexibility and location independence (remote workers, digital nomads, workation travellers), the rediscovering of wanderlust after the restrictions, increased health and hygiene consciousness and increased tolerance towards unpredictable developments.
The 2022 travel trends points to free e-booking and cancellation options, preferring quality over bargains, preferring packages and bookings via travel agencies for protection or cancellation as well as financial protection, avoiding mass tourism (with high spreading risk), catching up on experiences missed during the pandemic and spending unused travel budgets due to the pandemic.
The travel trend also indicates travellers tend to gravitate towards climate friendly travel, close to nature but low impact and supports the local community.
The department further discussed the strategic objectives of 2021 to 2023 which is to enhance Tourism Seychelles’ capacity in market intelligence, insights and analytics, grow the demand for destination Seychelles and increase number of international visitors and others.
The meeting also focused on networking sessions between the partners to further discuss the way forward such as the effect of the rise in fuel cost, consumer spending and other positive outcomes of the first quarter and other plans for the country.
The DG noted that the department is focused on the green, sustainable tourism and how the cultural aspect has a very big role in selling the Seychelles destination.
Minister Radegonde addressing the gathering (Photo: Thomas Meriton)
PS Francis (Photo: Thomas Meriton)
DG Willemin making her presentation (Photo: Thomas Meriton)