Seychelles gets ready for cruise ship season |07 October 2023
- Holds discussions on the new cruise village development plan
With the upcoming cruise ship season, representatives from the tourism department, the Seychelles Ports Authority, Seychelles Licensing Authority, land transport and the Seychelles Police Force yesterday met with taxis, tour guide and boat charter operators for a vital discussion on a new system to receive clients in Port Victoria.
The plan is to address the constant quarrels and fights over clients by the different operators, among other disorderly conducts, which gives the country a bad welcoming image.
It is also to deter unlicensed operators who are also present to pick up clients and to create space for the visitors to choose their desired service of choice. The meeting was chaired by the principal secretary for Tourism, Sherin Francis.
As per the new regulation, which is on a trial basis, the taxis, tour guide and boat charter operators will be confined to designated spots at the Island Development Company (IDC) car park, dubbed the Seychelles' New Cruise Village, which will also provide space for visitors to move around.
To access the Cruise Village, the operators will have to register with the Tourism department where they will be issued with a visible identification badge with a lanyard for identification purposes.
Registration will be for only licensed operators as unlicensed operators will not be allowed to access the service point area at the car park.
Police will be present to monitor the area, along with other parties to ensure that the regulation is abided by. Fixed penalties will be applicable in the event that the regulation is not respected.
Given that there will be only 28 parking spots, additional taxis will park at the playground and the taxi operators will have to communicate among themselves with regard to empty spaces available at the car park.
It is to be noted that although operators will not be allowed to pick up clients inside the port, the port authority will grant permission to those transporting clients with a lot of baggage or clients with special needs.
In an interview with the press, Mrs Francis said that apart from addressing disorderly conduct and to deter unlicensed operators, the proposed plan will also make it easier for the Tourism department to be in contact with the operators, and to disseminate information on cruise ship arrivals in a timely manner.
“It is a proposed plan and we want that we all work together to ensure that it works for the benefit of all parties,” PS Francis said.
SH Diana will be the first cruise ship to go through the new process on its arrival on October 24.
The season will end on June 4, 2024 with the arrival of Silver Cloud.
Taxi driver Desmond Revera and tour guide Alvin Jean-Bonnelame, said the new plan fits well given that there were too many frictions between operators which was unpleasant and nor nice in the eyes of the clients, whom at times felt suffocated and even baffled at what they were seeing.
“This is the type of constraint I feel when I come to the port to attend to clients on cruise ships and I think this new system will definitely get things to work properly. It is a trial and we will have the chance to give our feedback later but if we implement what is being proposed, I definitely think it is possible,” Mr Jean-Bonnelame said.
“I appreciate that they had this meeting and we had the chance to put forward our concerns but I feel they targeted mostly us taxis drivers, as if we were the only ones causing problems. We have a license and operate within standard, so we cannot allow unlicensed operators to destroy our business by cutting down on prices. If you want to run a business you have to get a license like everybody else. I know that there will be police presence and we will wait and see how things go,” said Mr Revera.
Another concern raised by the various operators was the availability of toilet facilities for them at the car park, given that the port provides its facilities only to clients on board cruise ships.
PS Francis stated they will work something out to address the issue which will come at a cost.
It should be noted that provisions have been made for space for other private vehicles inside the cruise village.