Aiming towards higher value and low impact tourism |03 June 2023
The strategic priorities 2024-2026 for the Tourism department include growing the demand for higher value and low impact tourism, improving the visitor experience to meet expectation through product enhancement, diversification and differentiation, and to facilitate the delivery of a high performing tourism workforce.
Principal Secretary for the Tourism Department Sherin Francis shared the priorities with delegates during the tourism strategic meeting held yesterday at the Eden Bleu Hotel, aimed at outlining the importance of “high value low impact” tourism in Seychelles.
In the presence of Foreign Affairs and Tourism Minister Sylvestre Radegonde, the strategic meeting was attended by Minister for Internal Affairs Errol Fonseka, Speaker of the National Assembly Roger Mancienne, among other partners and stakeholders within the tourism industry.
Mrs Francis noted that the meeting was vital in ensuring collaboration among the tourism partners in order to accomplish set targets.
She said they all have a part to play in the implementation of the strategy and in accomplishing everything set for this year.
She explained that the strategy is to look at visitors which can give the country more value.
“This is what we call higher value tourism,” said PS Francis who further added that, at the end of the day, the department needs to search for visitors that will spend more, while, they need to feel that they are getting value for their money.
This, she said, requires higher standards of local products, including the services.
She also emphasised on sustainability, noting that there is no problem with a visitor taking the bus, or buying a take-away.
PS Francis explained that the idea is to try and get the tourists to spend the maximum amount of money that they can whilst gaining the authentic Seychellois experience.
In terms of prices in shops compared to that of hotels or establishments, she explained that the department cannot regulate the prices set by an establishment for their products.
She said, nevertheless, in terms of competitiveness, there will be certain decisions that an establishment will take which will have an adverse effect, instead of a positive one.
“If the client is seeing that they are not getting value for their money, then, there is no way that they are going to over-spend on something, and this is the beauty of it. The clients always have a choice, and the same applies for accommodations”, she added.
She further added that what we should be focusing on is that, even if they are staying in a five star establishment, while buying stuff from an Indian shop, there is no problem, as long as during their stay, they are spending enough to sustain the country.
In addition, she added, it will take a full year to roll out the classification programme due to the fact that it will take three months to sensitise the department’s partners.
“It is important that everyone engages and knows what they will be entering and it will be important that before we launch it officially, we will work with the establishments for the grading system”, she added, noting that most of the partners already knew the assessment and had even started the pilot, but there are still some pre-assessments that need to be done.
The classification program will dictate that hotels with 51 rooms or above are obligated to be classified and rated, while anything below is optional.
However, once the law comes into effect, the hotels which do not participate in the programme will not be allowed to advertise any rating if it was not given by the department of tourism.
PS Francis also added that it is preferable that by the time the programme is launched, the hotels begin publishing their rating system and that all the mandatory establishments have already received theirs, including those that decide to participate optionally.
On his part Minister Radegonde, re-emphasised the fact that the tourism industry is everybody’s business.
“All of us have to do our part to protect the industry,” he said
Commenting on the low number of returning visitors, Minister Radegonde noted that the Tourism department is analysing the situation to find out why.
He said the service ranging from the first contact, which includes the airline, is vitally important, and if we cannot say good morning or have a nice flight, than there is some work to be done.
This, he said, is based on personal experience.
He continued by explaining that the department cannot continue to build hotels left right and centre and there will be a point soon where there will be a restriction on the number of hotels being built.
This, he said, is due to the fact that Seychelles cannot continue to receive just anyone who wants to enter the country, while we have to be very serious about what sort of investment we are doing, and focus on the yield.
“Less people spending more money,” he explained.
The tourism department announced during its business review meeting at the start of 2023 that Seychelles had brought in more than 330,000 visitors in 2022, while it is setting the goal of $1 billion for 2023 at the same meeting.
The delegates had the chance to follow presentation director general for Destination Marketing Bernadette Willemin , director general for Destination Planning and Development Paul Lebon, and Director for Seychelles Tourism Academy Terence Max on the motto of high value-low impact tourism, enhancing the tourism industry’s full potential, including guaranteeing sustainability, and maintaining quality and standards