‘All returning graduates from Shannon College will be mentored’ – Minister Radegonde |24 March 2023
• Tourism industry is a community affair
The Minister for Foreign Affairs & Tourism, Sylvestre Radegonde, has given his assurances that all returning graduates from the Shannon College will be mentored.
Minister Radegonde was speaking at a press conference yesterday following his return from several missions in Paris, Berlin and the United Kingdom.
During the press conference, held at the Tourism head office at Botanical House, Minister Radegonde seized the opportunity to update the press on various other issues.
Shannon graduates – what next?
Minister Radegonde personally attended the graduation ceremony of 18 young graduates at Shannon College. In one of the meetings with past graduates (112), it came clear that 50% of them are not in the tourism industry. So, what next for the new batch of graduates?
“The students do three years in Seychelles and they complete the last year at Shannon. Each student costs the government approximately R500,000. It does not make sense to keep training people and you don’t reap the expected outcome. At some point we will have to decide if we need to stop training at that level and focus on the ones that have been trained already. But the group I met are quite determined and want to pursue their career in tourism.”
Minister Radegonde shared that many of the youth upon their return are disheartened as they have high expectations. “You cannot become a general manager with a degree. There is an expectation that we are managing. Other problems we found was there was no mentoring of the graduates and they did not know how to progress in their career. We have a new mentorship committee where we have former tourism people who will mentor the students on a one-to-one basis. We have started the change and we are on the right track.”
There are hotels who make an effort to give chances to the new graduates but some would never consider Seychellois for higher posts.
By the end of 2024, there will be 140 graduates from Shannon. Going forward, Minister Radegonde reassured the parents and the graduates that they will be mentored.
“We are happy and confident that the number of tourists in the country are stable and we make sure that our tourism industry is healthy. This year we are focusing mainly on how to offer more services to tourists so that they spend in Seychelles,” Minister Radegonde said.
Reactions following an article published in an interview in Berlin regarding limiting the number of visitors
There was an article published in Berlin where Minister Radegonde was quoted as saying “Seychelles wants to limit the number of tourists visiting the islands”. The minister clarified that the article did not state all the facts. “It is a fact that Seychelles will not be able to accommodate as many tourists as we want. Being a small island state and with restricted manpower, we will not be able to have more tourism establishments. Already La Digue is saturated and we have a challenge with water and electricity also. I keep repeating that the tourism industry should be Seychellois. Circumstances will decide where the cap will be. Already in the pipeline, we have a few big hotels which will open by the end of 2023 and 2024. By the end of 2025, there will be an additional 2000 beds and we already have 14,000 rooms. There are also some upcoming projects by Seychellois.”
Minister Radegonde said he would rather see the development of existing abandoned sites.
ITB 2023 - Return to the world's largest tourism event following the pandemic
Seychelles being already a popular destination why is it important to participate in these meetings? Bernadette Willemin, director of Marketing, shared that it is very important for Seychelles to participate in such events so as to remain visible.
“We need to show that Seychelles is a good product and still relevant for a good holiday. We also have the opportunities to renew contacts with our partners and have side meetings and sales calls.”
Guillaume Albert, representing one of the destination management companies present at ITB Berlin, also shared that it is important for them to be present at these events.
“Seychelles, compared to other islands, is a bit more complex as you have to manage inter island hopping. They need to have confidence in Seychelles as other tropical destinations have opened. Our partners trust us to guide them on the best deals and we need product improvement by diversifying our products.”
Service and value for money
Seychellois need to understand that we are in serious competition. “One thing that will kill the industry is overpricing and not giving our clients value for money. One bad news can affect our reputation. It goes viral and the Tourism department keeps working to reassure the markets. Tourism department continues to advise tourists to be mindful of their belongings just like they do in their country. Unfortunately, some tourists are too naïve and they get conned by a small reduction of 5 or 10 euros.
Minister Radegonde reiterated that out on the market there are some people who have a license to operate as guest houses and do not even operate on the bare minimum. “We have to up our game. When my team go to inspect guest houses and small establishments, we will not make any appointment. We will do surprise visits. Our aim is to help them raise their standard so that Seychelles stays competitive. We also have many people from the industry that are doing a great job and their businesses are amazing.”
In order to limit cases of thefts on the beach, in the rooms, services, Minister Radegonde shared that discretely the Tourism department advises the tourists to be mindful and careful. “We wish for a theft-free community and the government is considering of having the beach police back on most frequented beaches.”
Minister Radegonde noted that the tourism industry is a community affair and we have to take responsibility to have more activities for the tourists during week-ends and holidays.
“We started ‘Creole Rendez-vous’ on La Digue and we launched the idea and we wanted people to pick up the idea and run with it…but it is not happening. In Victoria also there is possibility to do the same but we need local partners and our DMCs to make this happen!
Foreign Affair's mission
“We remain concerned with the invasion of Russia in Ukraine. We are pushing to have peace and we hope the two parties can sit down to negotiate peace. Seychelles’ position remains clear and all countries should respect the sovereignty of each other and we remain a non-aligned country. Albeit small, we remain independent and we are able to make a statement whenever need be. For the first time in Seychelles, we have a dedicated section for the diaspora within the Foreign Affairs department. We have a frank and honest relationship with all countries even though we do not share some of their views. We are here to defend the interest of the country.”
Minister Radegonde concluded the meeting by advising all to collaborate, cooperate and work to keep Seychelles in the mind of people.
Also present at the press conference were Amy Michel from Mason’s Travel; André Butler-Payette from 7 degrees South; Terrence Max, director of the Seychelles Tourism Academy and Amanda Payadayachy and Hervé Pool from the Foreign Affairs department.