Seychelles Tourism Minister explores small institutions at Bel Ombre on Mahé
- The minister visited 15 small businesses on Friday and had discussions with their owners / managers and employees.
- He heard firsthand the challenges they were facing and advised them on the opportunities that were presented to them.
- Minister Radegonde was accompanied on his visits by the Chief Secretary for Tourism, Sherin Francis.
Continuing his mission to better understand the tourism industry and its stakeholders, the Minister visited 15 small businesses on Friday, had discussions with their owners / managers and staff, heard first hand the challenges they are facing and advised them on the available to them. Visiting these small establishments is extremely important as they require more support than larger establishments and carry the Creole charm that is often lost in large chains and resorts, Minister Radegonde said.
Creole hospitality is a valued attribute and the hallmark of smaller players in the tourism industry, he said. Appreciated by many Seychelles visitors, visitors experience this first hand through their hosts in small establishments who make small gestures, whether it be to greet them with local drinks or treat them to a homemade meal that many of them find fall in love as they discover the exotic flavors of Creole cuisine.
Minister Radegonde was welcomed by La Maison Hibiscus, Cove Holiday Apartment, Beach Cottages, Beach Cove, The Drake Sea Side Apartment, Surfers Cove, Treasure Cove, Daniella’s Bungalow, Casadani, Villa Rousseau, Forest Lodge, Le Chant de Merle during his visit. accompanied, Bamboo River Lodge, The Palm Seychelles and Marie Laure Suites by the Chief Secretary for Tourism, Sherin Francis, and the elected member of the National Assembly of Bel Ombre, Honorable Sandy Arissol.
August was a busy month for most facilities visited, with many confirming that bookings have increased since the country’s final reopening last March.
They talked about how they have adapted to the situation in the face of the industry slump, highlighting that they have turned to domestic tourism, which has helped keep their doors open.
As cancellations from international visitors become more common, owners say they took a more flexible approach that is paying off. Some guests postpone their stays rather than canceling them entirely.
While many of the small tourist accommodation establishments receive guests from emerging source markets, there are a handful that are still dependent on the traditional ones. Minister Radegonde reminded them that they need to venture into markets with potential like Eastern Europe and the United Arab Emirates and revise their marketing strategies to survive, which can be done under the direction of the Ministry of Tourism.
The lack of a reliable workforce is one of their greatest challenges. While some have succeeded in this endeavor, many indicated that part of the local workforce is not committed to the industry and is unwilling to invest the time and effort required. Mr Loizeau of Casadani pointed out that local workers are always preferable, but once the non-workers are removed from our population, namely children, the elderly, the disabled and those who refuse, there is very little choice and eventually have to they are looking for overseas workers.
Providing more activities for tourists within the destination was also an issue. Many operators found their guests looking for activities, a topic to which Minister Radegonde reacted and reiterated, that work is being done to change this as not only do visitors do this, but also reasons to stay longer and the Increase spending, which brings income into the country.
Other concerns discussed included noise, pollution, litter and limited beach access due to certain developments.
Despite these challenges, the farms received a lot of positive feedback and many owners confirmed that the land was opened at the right time and given a chance to survive. The destination, opening up to many others, gave it a competitive advantage, PS Francis replied, and the country’s sensible actions made it easier and more attractive for people to travel, as the country even receives visitors from Alaska.
Commenting on the visits, Mr Arissol said he found them fruitful as they had interesting interactions with the facility’s owners and learned more about their situation and concerns, which included GOP-related issues and unreliable workers. He also agreed with Mr. Rousseau of Forest Lodge, who stated that the Seychelles Tourism Academy’s educational program is fundamental to the industry and that students need to understand that there is a more demanding hotel life that requires both sacrifice and passion.
Impressed by the establishments visited, both Minister Radegonde and PS Francis commented on how some of these small establishments present products of the highest quality, pay attention to details and work at a 5-star level.
The weekly visits are part of Minister Radegonde’s efforts to strengthen his relationships with stakeholders in the local tourism industry, which will facilitate his work in facing the challenges of the sector in the context of his business area.