SEYCHELLES TOURISM BOARD AND AIR SEYCHELLES SIGN MOU
Last Friday saw the long in the making signing of a new Memorandum of Understanding between the Seychelles Tourism Board and national airline Air Seychelles. CEO’s Mrs. Elsia Grandcourt and Cramer Ball put pen to paper to ink the most extensive agreement signed todate between the two industry partners, aimed to make use of synergies abroad when promoting the country as a destination and flying with ‘The Creole Spirit’ when coming to the islands.
Present at the signing were Minister for Tourism and Culture Alain St. Ange and his Home Affairs and Transport counterpart Joel Morgan. Under the new agreement, both parties will jointly explore ways to work together to promote Seychelles around the world, providing more opportunities for visiting journalists, travel agents, and tour operators. Mrs. Grandcourt, the STB CEO, said after the signing: ‘I am grateful we have been able to sign this MOU today which reaffirms our engagement with the national carrier in promoting the Seychelles destination. We have already been working very closely together and I believe with this signing today, we can only look at more positive things in the future’. Cramer Ball in response was quoted saying the airline’s expanding international schedule and partnership strategy will be a key enabler of boosting tourism and contributing to the growing diversification of visitors arriving to Seychelles. ‘This is an exciting time for Air Seychelles. We have had an incredible year. We took delivery of our first Airbus A330-200 last year, and next week we will welcome our second. We are looking to expand our network to over 750 destinations weekly to and from Seychelles. We see great opportunities in markets like Hong Kong, Greater China, Europe, South East Asia, Eastern Europe and Africa. Throughout the year we will be expanding our airline partnerships and expanding our links to these destinations. The signing of this MOU, our partnership with STB, is fundamental to the future of how we promote Seychelles around the world. This new bond is a big part of the future of Air Seychelles and we’re delighted’.
Tourism and Culture Minister Alain St. Ange also used the opportunity to state that: ‘The Ministry of Tourism and STB have always been committed to the national airline and formalising this agreement today ties our two organisations together and gives us a solid way forward to work together. We are enthusiastic of the support being offered by the Air Seychelles in the marketing of the destination, which remains the core role of the STB. We will work hand in hand with the new Air Seychelles and its partners, such as airberlin, and those to come, who are opening up new avenues and opportunities for Seychelles, as the World continues to diversify’.
(Cramer Ball, CEO of Air Seychelles seen here signing the MoU with Elsia Grandcourt, CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board)
In a related development it was also learned from a source on the main island of Mahe, that Air Seychelles management and board were joined in a top strategy session by key personnel from the Seychelles Tourism Board and the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority, aimed to map out a joint way forward in how to best use available resources to promote the Seychelles abroad, and perhaps also to take on board past criticism voiced from sections of the private sector over the lack of nonstop flights to such places like Paris and fare pricing on the domestic network.
Notably was James Hogan, President and CEO of Etihad Airways present with a team of top executives from Abu Dhabi, clearly a sign of how highly rated this meeting was seen in the top floors of both airlines and their partners present. Hogan was quoted as saying: ‘Partnership is at the heart of the Etihad Airways business strategy. In all areas of our business we work with like-minded companies and individuals, who share our vision, to drive and support growth and development. We are already seeing the benefits of increased collaboration in the growing numbers of tourists to the Seychelles fed through the joint Etihad-Air Seychelles network, which is the result of our equity partnership’.
Cramer Ball of Air Seychelles was quoted adding: ‘The tourism board and civil aviation authority have done an impressive job creating demand for travel to the Seychelles through focused marketing initiatives and a liberal air transport policy. By collaborating we will achieve a much better result for Seychelles tourism’.
Participants at the meeting reportedly analyzed opportunities for future growth and examined the many attributes of the destination and their strong appeal to an ever widening demographic of visitor. The forum also discussed the challenges facing Seychelles’ tourism industry and how these could be tackled in a measured and collectively-supported strategy.
Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and Culture Sherin Naiken concluded: ‘In the forum we witnessed the emergence of new working relationships between tourism, civil aviation and the airlines. I am confident this new relationship will achieve great results for our Islands’ tourism industry. We are all winning together for Seychelles’.
A regular private sector source, while appreciating the high level meeting between STB, SCAA, Air Seychelles and Etihad expressed some level of concern for not having been able to give the private sector input to the deliberations which was termed; ‘… an unbiased view from our side of the aisle. We interact regularly with our minister and the STB staff but when we learn of such a meeting we would have liked an opportunity to give input. It is important what we have to say and while we had recent interaction with Air Seychelles’ top management, maybe this was a lost opportunity by only choosing public sector and the airline partners to sit in the room and strategize over our common future. After all it is our future, the future of Seychelles tourism’.
Only in the Seychelles, clearly Another World.