Chat with Josette Weber, creator of the Social Media Platform ‘Seychelles Come Visit’ |10 June 2021
‘I am content that, in a small way, I could be helping a country…’
‘Seychelles Come Visit’ is a social media platform set to promote everything from Seychelles – music, photos, sites, activities, videos, accommodation, and restaurants. There is no place for negativity and politics on the platform and if this happens, the creator of the page, Josette Weber, kindly advises the users before deleting the comments.
During this pandemic time, Ms Weber is helping the community in her own way to help promote our country and today there are more than 27,500 followers on the platform.
Recently Seychelles NATION had a chat with Ms Weber to discover more about her and her social media platform.
Seychelles NATION: Who is Josette Weber?
Josette Weber: A mother, a businesswoman and a Seychellois entrepreneur.
Seychelles NATION: When/Why did you create the social platform ‘Seychelles Come Visit’?
Josette Weber: ‘Seychelles Come Visit’ was created on April 14, 2020 during the Covid-19 lockdown. Like many others, my business and life had come to a grinding halt and I found myself separated from my daughter, who is at university studying medicine.
Seychelles NATION: What was the objective of creating such a platform and did you achieve it?
Josette Weber: The objective was simple – create visibility for Seychelles, keep reminding the world, including Seychellois overseas, that we are still here in spite of the pandemic and that we were preparing to welcome everyone back as soon as it was over. This positive attitude would be a great help to families and all stakeholders especially small businesses which are totally dependent on tourism to survive, for example guesthouses, car hirers, restaurants and take-aways, charter boat operators, photographers, florists, wedding planners and all these small owner operated businesses who have limited visibility.
Seychelles NATION: You have more than 27,000 members, did you expect such an interest?
Josette Weber: I could never have imagined the responses, which have been phenomenal. It has been rewarding to receive messages from small businesses just to say thank you or from a friend to say what I am doing for Seychellois is patriotic or from a stranger overseas to say that the group has helped them so much during their lockdowns. I often receive private messages to ask for assistance in getting contacts or information about Seychelles. I am content that in a small way, I could be helping a country, be it through a small business or individual. ‘Seychelles Come Visit’ to date has members from over 100 countries and 27,500 members. Who would have thought!
Seychelles NATION: Many residents from abroad are members of the group and how does this help the group?
Josette Weber: It really does help as residents abroad are sharing the group which means advertising our islands with their friends overseas, giving their input and little extra bits of information and personal anecdotes; this can only be good for all of us.
Seychelles NATION: Having a social platform and having to manage it daily must be a tough task. We have recently seen some unfortunate comments from our Seychellois people, some being quite racist, how do you deal with these?
Josette Weber: Managing the group took a great deal of time at the beginning but it is more settled now as people have understood that it is a marketing group designed to promote Seychelles. As you know, one negative or malicious comment or post can in an instant undo months’ worth of great work.
There is absolutely no excuse or room for racist comments in the group. I have zero-tolerance on this matter so such posts are deleted and the members blocked without discussion. As Seychellois this is not who we are.
If we are using social media, we have to be responsible, civil and remain aware at all times that everything that is said or posted especially in groups like this, the whole world gets to see.
I am also lucky that I have three other Seychellois nationals who have Seychelles at heart in the admin group and they have been helping me and I really need to thank them for their support as well.
Seychelles NATION: I want to thank you for having this platform and in this pandemic situation you are contributing a lot towards sharing information to those interested to come to our islands. Now you are inviting local businesses to advertise their tourism-related businesses on the platform, how does this work?
Josette Weber: Often businesses do not post on the page because they think they may have to pay. I want to reiterate that posting by anyone is absolutely free. We all need to work and support each other during this time. It’s about establishing and exchanging contact details and making connections. I don’t like to promote pricing – that is to be discussed between the service provider and the client otherwise it becomes a bartering site.
I have since the beginning been pushing the various sectors and individuals of our tourism industry to create visibility for their businesses and this platform has always been free. I have done posts for the self-catering, guesthouses and small hotels as much as possible. In addition, I also promote restaurants, bars, translators, the land and sea transfer services, artists, environmental organisations, dive centres and small eateries, florists, hikes, sites to visit and excursion/charter companies, environmental NGOs etc… The whole idea is to show visitors and locals alike how much we have to offer. It has been an amazing journey for me and a huge learning curve – we have developed so much in what we have to offer, it’s wonderful.
Seychelles NATION: What is your advice for all of us who want to see the economy get back on its feet?
Josette Weber: While it is about the beauty of the islands which initially attracts visitors, it is also about our people, our food and our welcome. I see great reaction, with that small establishment, that one bar, a pizzeria on the beach and when we have photos of interaction between Seychellois, with their gorgeous smiles, and visitors together. If you look at comments from visitors who have been here, they always recommend that one experience that made their holiday, that one Seychellois establishment or that one Seychellois whom they met who left a warm lasting impression on them. We need to nurture that and push that side and give everyone, including Seychellois who are missing home, hope and a reason to keep smiling in this difficult Covid-19 period.
Seychelles NATION: Any words of advice?
Josette Weber: TheCovid-19 pandemic has brought a lot of loss, sadness and uncertainty to the whole world and our islands and people have certainly not been spared from this.
We are a small country and our recovery thankfully will be quicker than the larger countries of that I am certain, but we need to realise how lucky we are and how much we have to be thankful for and during those down days, we need to find that one positive thing that reminds us that we must appreciate what we have.
We also need to continue to be innovative with what we offer and not copy what the next person has done. The more choices we have the wider market we will appeal to. There is a huge spectrum of travellers out there and they must not feel they have to cross Seychelles off their list because what they are looking for, they ‘think’, we don’t offer or because they are made to believe we are out of their price range. We have that self-catering and we have that local take-away and we have that group excursion. Everyone needs that one holiday to try and forget the world for a minute.
I would also like to just say thank you to everyone who continues to help the group grow while giving visitors a reason why they should ‘Come Visit’.