(A Chinese visitor, seen here at a Wedding Cove on the island of La Digue earlier this year)
The Seychelles Tourism Board announced over the weekend that at least 50 Chinese couples will in July fly to the archipelago to get married there and spend their honeymoon, following an intensive marketing campaign. This will coincide with the Sino Seychellois friendship week celebrations by may well pave the way for more such visitors in the future. Arrivals from China for 2012 are already up by over 95 percent year by year, and 2011 saw a virtual doubling of arrival figures from China compared to 2010.
The new found fame of the Seychelles is at least in part attributed to the promotional efforts of the 5 airlines now linking China with the archipelago via their home hubs, in particular Emirates with 13 flights per week to Mahe, Qatar Airways with daily flights, Etihad with presently 6 flights a week going up to daily services by June, Ethiopian Airlines with 4 onward connections via Addis Ababa and Kenya Airways which now flies 3 times a week via Nairobi. Ethiopian in fact operated a tourist charter flight to Mahe a few weeks ago and intends to market such special flights to further attract traffic from China.
That said however, the efforts of the Seychelles Tourism Board, the Seychelles embassy in Beijing and their consulate in Shanghai, working hand in hand with key partners from the private sector, DMCs and resorts, have played a major role in this breakthrough to open up the Chinese market and Air Seychelles has already announced that they are planning nonstop services from later this year to at least one major city in China. Mr. Alain St. Ange, Minister for Tourism and Culture in the Seychelles government, had this to say when addressing a press conference in Beijing to promote the Sino Seychelles Culture Week: It gives me great pleasure to address you today as it provides me with an opportunity to showcase the beauty of Seychelles to the Chinese market. Seychelles has enjoyed close ties with China for many years and we share many things in common. In Seychelles, we have a sizeable Chinese population that has been living among us as Seychellois brothers and sisters for well over a century. When you visit our islands, you will notice their influence on our culture and on our traditions, and particularly in our delicious Creole cuisine.
The Seychelles Tourism Board remains very interested in China and remains very interested in cementing these ties by welcoming ever greater numbers of Chinese visitors to our shores. Already, China is Seychelles fastest growing tourism market and this looks to continue, as not only do we already have an Embassy and a tourism office here in Beijing, but are looking to expand with a second tourist office in Shanghai in the near future as we continue to explore the possibility of further openings up Macau and Hong Kong.
The reason behind this expansion is that we strongly believe that Seychelles is the new destination that will appeal to Chinese tourists. We are of one of the smallest nations on earth: an archipelago of 115 sparkling islands, largely untouched since the dawn of time, whose beauty is the stuff of legend. Our population is only 87,000 people and our land area only 455 sq kmbut the diversity we offer is truly vast.
Seychelles is between 4 and 10 degrees south of the equator and consists of 43 towering granite islands, the oldest mid-oceanic granitic islands on the planet, and 72 low-lying reef islands, sand cays and atolls which extend like stepping stones towards the coast of neighbouring Africa. We are indeed 1000 miles from anywhere – but we are a million miles in terms of the tranquility, in terms of authenticity and in terms of diversity of a Seychelles holiday experience.
We have towering granite mountains, so tall in fact that their peaks are constantly covered in mist. In these exotic habitats lives an array of equally unique flora & fauna that includes some of the rarest species on the planet. Despite its size, Seychelles boasts two UNESCO World Heritage Sites. One of these is the amazing Vallée de Mai on Praslin Island a hidden, ancient forest with towering palms upon which grows the legendary Coco-de-Mer, the worlds heaviest nut, once believed to grow on a mysterious tree beneath the sea. The other is the extraordinary atoll of Aldabra Island, known as the land that time forgot, with its population of 150, 000 giant tortoises.
Seychelles offers a wide range of authentic experiences that will leave you with the memories of a lifetime: great sailing among the inner islands; diving in places where as many as 800 different species of fish have been spotted on one dive; thrilling big-game fishing for marlin, sailfish, wahoo, tuna, barracuda and many other species besides. We also offer great spa & wellness holidays, casinos, and an opportunity to charge your batteries in Seychelles tranquil environment; we have a spectacular 18-hole championship golf course nested between a lush mountainside and a sapphire ocean and also fascinating walks & trails upon which to discover Seychelles diverse natural world. As many of you will discover, we are perhaps the worlds best known honeymoon venue that was visited recently by the Kate and William, the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge of Great Britain.
Beyond this, and much more besides, we offer a tranquil yet vibrant culture and an enviable, island-style way of life that is gentle, kind and welcoming a unique break from busy schedules and a chance to rediscover yourself in another world.
Seychelles, truly Another World.