A CHALLENGING YEAR AHEAD FOR SEYCHELLES AS EMIRATES DROPS SECOND DAILY FLIGHT
(Posted 05th January 2018)
The Seychelles are looking ahead to a challenging business environment for their tourism industry as a battle for the skies in and out of the archipelago is looming.
Changes at Air Seychelles already announced here include the axing of the airline’s long haul destinations including the vitally important route to Paris, which also then necessitated the drop of flights to Antananarivo / Madagascar, from where significant passenger numbers connected to the French capital in Mahe.
While the three flights per week to and from France, last year Seychelles’ second most important source market for tourists after Germany, will very likely be made up by Air France subsidiary JOON – they commence services the week Air Seychelles yields the market to them – does the drop of one daily flight by Emirates send an entirely different message.
Long a key partner of Seychelles Tourism has Gulf rival Etihad, an airline now struggling after their failed investment and partnership deals with European airlines like Air Berlin – bankrupt and in liquidation – and Alitalia, the ailing Italian national airline, pushed to gain traction but at least in the eyes of the Seychelloise people now stands in the dock as the main culprit behind the downsizing of Air Seychelles. The national airline will have to return their two Airbus A330’s and declare redundancies for the respective crews and ground personnel as a result while the archipelago sees the reaction of the Gulf’s leading airline, Emirates, pulling one of their daily Boeing B777 services – all the time while flying twice a day with an Airbus A380 to the rival island of Mauritius. It remains to be seen if the reduction from two to one flight per day by Emirates will be a seasonal adjustment or else a more permanent feature.
This set tongues wagging and tourism planners are scratching their heads, after the January figures showed that from January 2017’s 20.886 arrivals this year’s figures only stood at 19.598 according to figures seen.
The industry now banks on the near doubling of cruise ship arrivals during the 2018 season compared to a year ago, even though cruise ship passengers only boost arrival numbers and not hotel occupancies.
For that are hotels and tour operators looking at the new flights by among others British Airways, to boost the tourism sector.
Sections of the private sector have already voiced their concern over the static budget for marketing the archipelago at a time when global competition is heating up and when the Seychelles face new challenges.
‘We are as an industry still lobbying for better funding for STB but also for government action on other areas affecting tourism. The recent travel advisory by Britain has been a shot across the bow so to speak, a warning for our government to act and keep the Seychelles safe, for tourists but also us local people alike‘ wrote one regular source and commentator from Victoria.
After years of unbroken success and rising arrival numbers in the earlier part of the decade are tourism planners and marketers now challenged to follow in the footsteps of these years since the entire Seychelles’ economy is today more dependent on tourism success than ever before.