NEW ARRIVAL RECORD STILL POSSIBLE SAY SEYCHELLES’ TOURISM STAKEHOLDERS
(Posted 08th November 2014)
It will be touch and go, with just 8 weeks remaining now until the end of the year, for the Seychelles islands to establish a new arrival record, or else miss it, something no one wants to see happen as it would mean lower arrival number compared to 2013.
At the end of October had some 192.708 visitors entered the archipelago, compared with 193.127 a year ago and with the two strong months of November and December coming up, there is hope that last year’s figures can be equaled and perhaps slightly exceeded.
While China has this year increased arrivals by 76 percent have reports hit home that several groups have cancelled their travels over Ebola fears, in the case of the Seychelles entirely unjustified as the island’s government had already at a very early stage banned travel to Ebola ridden countries while imposing Visa requirements for travelers from West Africa, a point in part responsible for a loss of expected arrivals as a result. A major travel trade mission is now going underway to China to reassure that market that travel to the Seychelles was entirely safe and that nothing had changed from earlier in the year.
From Europe were the news also not overwhelming as only Germany has added numbers in 2014 while France, the Benelux countries, Italy, Scandinavia and Britain all had less tourists come to the Seychelles this year.
For France did the Seychelles launch a major market offensive which included the reduction of transit time for Air Seychelles flights in Abu Dhabi, where passengers can now stay on board the aircraft. Seychelles’ tourism stakeholders however are still advocating for nonstop flights between Mahe and Paris, as do French based travel agents, an issue causing some considerable headache in the headoffice of the national airline which appears compelled by partner Etihad to include the Abu Dhabi stop.
The World Travel Market last week in London gave resorts and DMC’s from the islands the opportunity to meet the British travel trade and drive home the message that the archipelago remains one of the world’s most favourite wedding and honeymoon destinations and can be reached with multiple connections every day by Emirates from all key airports across the UK.
The Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association, the national tourism private sector apex body, also yesterday published figures which show that October was the strongest in terms of arrivals ever for this month, with 23.312 entries, only marginally behind the strongest month ever being April 2013 with 23.736 recorded entries.
Commented a regular reader from Victoria after passing the latest passenger statistics: ‘By end October we were down from the record breaking 2013 by just 419 visitors. We can still make this up over the next couple of weeks but we will miss our target of 3 percent increase for sure. The challenges have been noticed in the ministry and at the tourism board and solutions have been introduced. The changes in focus by STB on some markets is important and will perhaps help to be more confident for 2015. We now also have more flights after Emirates went double daily and Mihin added another frequency from Colombo. We will have to wait and see how the additional flights by Air Seychelles to African destinations and to Mumbai will work out and if those new flights will drive arrivals up. It has been a difficult year from some of our European markets and whether some people like it or not, nonstop flights to Paris are very important to recover our traffic from there’.
Like all stakeholders on the islands will the weekly arrival numbers be closely watched over the coming 8 weeks and fingers will be crossed that come 31st of December, the 2014 arrivals will be a short nose ahead of the 2013 figures to maintain the run of yearly better numbers which started back in 2009.