SEYCHELLES TOURISM ACADEMY CONSTRUCTION IMPRESSES FINANCIER DELEGATION
A delegation from the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa, in short BADEA, recently visited the Seychelles to discuss further cooperation and support for investments on the archipelago. Notably, the development bank is financing 80 percent of the projected cost of the modernization and expansion of the STA while the government of the Seychelles has injected the remaining 20 percent of the cost.
The Seychelles Tourism Academy falls under the portfolio of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture and the bank’s delegation took the opportunity last week to call on Minister Alain St. Ange to discuss opportunities for investments in the tourism sector vis a vis new resorts. ‘For us in Seychelles, tourism is not only hotels. The time has come for us to get investors – Seychellois or foreigners – to work with us to increase what we have as facilities on offer in our country. We need to be innovative and offer new attractions to encourage our visitors to spend their holiday dollar. With the Ministry of Finance, Trade and Investment and the Seychelles Investment Bureau (SIB) we need to join forces to intensify our campaign to get such new investments for Seychelles’ was Minister St. Ange quoted to have told the bankers before adding: ‘Seychelles’s vision of diversification of its products and of its services will increase visitor spending and in so doing increase the yield from tourism. The building of a water park for example with an aquarium and an underwater restaurant is a business proposition in its own right. A floating hotel and/or a floating restaurant could add value to what Seychelles today has to offer to its visitors. These will create additional attractions for our country. Investments in new such projects that are viable will only help to further boost our economy. We need to intensify our approach of diversifying our activities and our attractions’.
Minister St. Ange then turned his attention to the Seychelles Tourism Academy and according to information availed to this correspondent by a regular source in the islands said: ‘When I took office as chief executive of the Seychelles Tourism Board one of my first missions was to bring to President James Michel’s attention the need for a new tourism academy that reflects the development in the tourism industry. Today, as the minister responsible for tourism, I am indeed happy with the steady progress of the construction work on the new tourism academy and I am convinced that Seychelles will have an exemplary hospitality and tourism training institution – one that the country will be proud of. I am indeed thankful for your help and for helping to make it happen. In the second phase of the project we will complete the ‘Ecole d’Application’ – part of the academy where students will put into practice what they have learnt in the classrooms. This hotel will provide practical training at the academy itself and is an important part of training for our future hoteliers. The school will prepare the students to face the reality of working in our tourism establishments’.
The delegation then visited STA where they were received by Principal Mr. Flavien Joubert and key members of his staff and shown around the construction area of the mountain top compound as well as the operational part of STA where regular studies continue. The site, located at La Misere, is a former communications station used by the American military but handed over to the Seychelles government which in turn then moved the Seychelles Tourism Academy there. A grand masterplan was then developed how to turn STA in the a world class hospitality training institution and a market leader in Africa for such studies, resulting in the launch of construction last year, with phase one due to be completed before embarking on the creation of additional facilities like the application hotel, luxury villas and a Spa. There, young Seychellois aspiring for a career path in the hospitality industry can be trained, at the end of their course ready to enter the workplace with the same skills as their expatriate colleagues. The visitors were reportedly impressed with the progress of construction as well as the set up at STA as a model institution of combined vocational and tertiary hands on training.
STA has in the past entered into a key partnership with the Shannon College in Ireland where Seychellois students from STA can complete their degree courses in hospitality management and where even lecturers have had the opportunity to advance their own knowledge in teaching methods and the latest trends in hospitality training. Over the past months, as reported here, has the management of STA also signed MoU’s to create added partnerships with similar institutions in Shanghai, Muscat and Malta, aimed to promote student and lecturer exchanges.
Said another source who was asked to comment: ‘Seychelles resorts have always had more job opportunities than we have trained Seychellois available to fill them. There were always issues on the qualifications of our young people and the government moved to make training available. The graduates from STA are employed by the hotels because they learned skills at the academy. The private sector plays an important role on the board of STA and is involved in what students learn while taking courses. The management programme is very special because for the first time we are creating a generation of young hotel managers. At the end of their academic studies they undergo practical training when they are placed in top hotels in Europe and the United Arab Emirates and are then ready to start working at home. You were with us in the past for events when we sent students to Shannon. The government is investing heavily towards that end. We had high level discussions how to shape the future of tourism in the Seychelles and STA is a centre piece in our strategy how to achieve these objectives. Foreign investments are important to drive Seychelles tourism forward. But is it also important to give our young people career prospects and find them jobs, or allow them to learn how to start their own businesses in tourism. Restaurants, boat hire, tour guiding, guest houses, B&B’s and small resorts. In the end it all comes down to turn ‘Brand Seychelles’ into something which puts food on the table of our people and I think we are succeeding’.
STA is undoubtedly a source of pride for the Seychelles, which remains truly Another World.