Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association Chairman Louis D’Offay speaks out

SEYCHELLES PRIVATE SECTOR MEETS TO DISCUSS INDUSTRY AFFAIRS

Members of the SHTA, the Seychelles Hospitality & Tourism Association from Praslin and La Digue Islands met at a General Meeting at La Reserve Hotel on Praslin last Saturday.

The Praslin and La Digue tourism professionals meeting was organised by their SHTA to be better updated on pertinent challenges their island members were being faced with. The Seychelles Minister responsible for Tourism and Culture, Mr. Alain St. Ange, accompanied by Mrs. Elsia Grandcourt, the CEO of STB, the Board’s Director for Administration and HR, Ms. Jenifer Sinon and Mrs. Sabrina Agathine, the Head of Marketing from Air Seychelles had joined the Executive Board Members of the SHTA for the Praslin meeting.

Mr Louis D’Offay, the Chairman of the Association said as he welcomed all the Praslin and La Digue members of the Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association that SHTA appreciates the importance of the islands of Praslin and La Digue. The association needs to better inform itself on the problems of the islands and above all to listen to them. Mr Louis D’Offay gave an overview of the situation of the Seychelles tourism industry and the new challenges members felt they were today facing.

The floor was then open and the Praslin and La Digue hoteliers and Mr. William Rose, the Director of the Cat Roses Inter Island Ferry brought up points they feel were having a negative impact of their businesses. From inter island air access, the state of Curieuse Island facilities, illegal boat operators, cost for participating at Tourism Trade Fairs, the over development of Praslin and La Digue, direct air access to Europe, new regulations for recruitment of foreign labour following the Mahe meeting with the PS from the Ministry of Employment, tourism budget and the new Tourism Marketing Fund and Social Responsibility taxes were tabled and discussed.

Mrs. Sabrina Agathine, the Air Seychelles Marketing Manager gave explanations on points raised and assured the stakeholders present that she would update the airline’s CEO on points seen as concerns by the tourism sector and Minister Alain St. Ange took time to react to the points raised during the discussions. Minister St. Ange said that he was on Praslin for the Praslin and La Digue meeting because the Government believes in the tourism potential of the two islands and that the Government appreciated the effort made by these island hoteliers and tourism entrepreneurs. Minister St. Ange assured that all their points raised had been noted and would be discussed further by his ministry.

The Minister for Tourism also congratulated the SHTA for organizing the Praslin meeting for hoteliers and tourism entrepreneurs from Praslin and La Digue. He said that it remained important for the industry and for the Government to remain connected with everyone sitting in the front line of the industry. The Minister thanked the stekeholders for their openness and for being frank in addressing their concerns and challenges.

After lengthy discussions a resolution was adopted for SHTA, the Tourism Board and the Ministry of Tourism to meet with Air Seychelles CEO to discuss the way forward and to better understand each other’s position. The association also resolved to writing to the Government to seek representation on the Planning Authority as they all agreed at the meeting that Praslin and La Digue were losing their appeal because of new constructions approved by the Planning Authority where no consideration of the islands character as well as the negative impact on the environment was taken into account. A marketing meeting of the association and the Tourism Board is also to be called in the coming week to review the 2013 plan of action and the allocated budget. The stakeholders from Praslin and La Digue also requested that a letter be sent to the Minister of Finance and to the Minister responsible for employment to take up the lack of staff difficulties. They addressed the appeal by the country to support the new flight by Air Seychelles to Hong Kong but said that as they wanted to move to be ready with specialized catering needed for that new market new formalities to recruit foreign cooks made it too complicated because they today needed to convince the Ministry that this employee was suitable when it remains clear to them that they would not be spending the money to employ a foreign staff member if they were not an asset. They made it plain that they want to manage their establishment themselves and not be dictated by an officer in a Ministry trying to manage it for them.

The Executive Board of the Association also held it meeting on Praslin which was followed by a cocktail at the la Reserve Hotel at Anse Petite Cour.

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