SEYCHELLES FIRST HALF YEAR ARRIVALS GROW BY 14 PERCENT
(Posted 05th July 2013)
The Seychelles Tourism Board had estimated a growth in arrival figures for 2013 by a conservative 3+ percent, reflecting the global economic outlook at the time the forecasts were put together.
It came as a surprise therefore for many, though not for those closely monitoring the arrival statistics which are issued week by week through the National Bureau of Statistics, that over the first six months of the year this forecast was exceeded month after month by significant margins. Figures just confirmed by the country’s statisticians show a closing by the end of June with a 14 plus percent increase compared to the same period in 2012.
The Seychelles Minister for Tourism and Culture, Alain St. Ange, commented through a mailed communication as follows on this trend: ‘Despite all the challenges our tourism industry is facing, we are still riding a good wave. The economic difficulties in our main markets is showing no sign of redress, but the planning undertaken by the Tourism Board’s Marketing Team and the Board’s Overseas Offices at the the annual marketing strategy meetings keeps us being proactive and intelligent in our sales and marketing actions. We have broken into the world of events because we knew that this would increase press coverage for Seychelles over and above providing entertainment for our people. The annual Carnival International de Victoria continues to surpass the expected press coverage it attracts. We now have to raise the bar for the Festival Kreol, and we need to do for SUBIOS, our Festival of the Sea. Then we have to sell the events centered around our diversity of culture and promote our celebrations of the Commonwealth Day, the La Francophonie celebrations and now the Indian Day in Seychelles and we shall have to also promote the Chinese Spring Festival when this is finally launched. Our diversity is a unique selling point and we need to be proud of the five source branches making the Seychellois Nation we see today. Europe is showing an increase over 2012 with France alone increasing by a 12 percentage point, UK by 14%, Germany by a staggering 29%. Asia is also showing signs of growth as is Africa and the Americas. The diversification policy at the Tourism Board has worked and the push to continue to claim our fair share from our traditional markets at the same time is keep us moving forward. We now need the private sector to look at how to increase yield from our tourism industry and this is not and cannot be just the room rates. We need more for tourists to spend on and this is where the private sector needs to continue to be encouraged to innovate’.
These figures come hot on the heels of a change at the helm of the Seychelles Tourism Board, where Ms. Sherin Naiken took over from Elsia Grandcourt on July 01st, who left STB on an all time high, considering that the year 2012 too had produced a new arrival record for the archipelago. Stakeholder sources attributed the growth to both the efforts of the tourism board but also pointed to the German market, where the codeshared flights between Air Berlin and Air Seychelles, both members of the Etihad family, generated a nearly 30 percent growth in arrivals for the Seychelles.
‘When the old Air Seychelles was pushed out of the Frankfurt route two or three years ago, the German market remained with Condor and the Gulf airlines connecting through their hubs in Dubai or Doha or Abu Dhabi. An important link had gone missing and the market showed some weakness afterwards. When the new Air Seychelles signed code share agreements with Air Berlin to fly German passengers from several airports in Germany to Abu Dhabi, where they then join the Creole Spirit for the final leg to Mahe, suddenly the Germans showed renewed interest in coming here for vacations. Concerted efforts at ITB and sales missions before and afterwards also pushed the market to new heights. It is good that we have our traditional markets show growth again but we are not letting up in exploring new and emerging markets. Arrivals from China are up by 67 percent, and this contributed to the overall result of a 14 percent plus year by year’ added a regular source from Mahe, when asked to comment on the results.
It is now expected, unforeseen developments excluded, that by year end the Seychelles will look at yet another new arrival record in a single year, which will contribute to rising occupancies in the resorts, guest houses, holiday villas and B&B establishments but also bring a smile to the faces of the airline executives as their seat occupancy on flights to Mahe will no doubt rise. Watch this space for upcoming news about the Festival of Assumption in August on the island of La Digue and other key events taking place across the Seychelles islands in the second half of the year. Seychelles, truly Another World.