SEYCHELLES’ HOSPITALITY&TOURISM ASSOCIATION WELCOMES NONSTOP PARIS FLIGHTS
(Posted 23rd March 2015)
The Chairman of SHTA, Mr. Freddy Karkaria, last Friday issued a statement on behalf of the Seychelles’ hospitality and tourism private sector vis a vis the announcement by Air Seychelles that the airline was going to resume nonstop flights from Mahe to Paris. Present at the meeting, which was chaired by the Seychelles’ Vice President Danny Faure, were also Minister Alain St Ange, Minister of Tourism and Culture, Minister Joel Morgan, Minister of Transport and Foreign Affairs, Minister Jean-Paul Adam, Minister of Finance, Trade and the Blue Economy, Minister Charles Bastienne, Minister of Home Affairs, Minister Idith Alexander, Minister of Employment and Human Resources and Minister Didier Dogley, Minister of Environment and Energy, Mr Manoj Papa, CEO Air Seychelles, representatives from the Commissioner of Police, Land Transport, STB, and Principal Secretaries for the Finance, Tourism and Culture Ministries. Apart from applauding the re-launch of the nonstop flights to Paris did Mr. Karkaria however also dwell on a range of other pending issues for which talks with government had apparently not brought the expected solutions for the private sector. The Vice President and cabinet members present will no doubt have taken notice of the association’s concerns and the private sector will no doubt closely monitor if any changes will come about in the near future.
‘We wish to confirm that the SHTA will in 2015 maintain its strategy of dialogue with Government, this despite the disappointments and lack of progress on systemic and fiscal issues discussed since July last year and which for the larger part remain unresolved.
We are delighted with the decision by government to re-instate non-stop flights from Paris to our destination as of July. We thank the Government for listening to the trade; the decision is not an easy one and we are cognizant that it is a tough venture.
France has a history of being the number one market for Seychelles, Paris has traditionally been the gateway for our European clientele coming from the west; it is therefore a positive strategic move. Direct and non-stop flights are intrinsic to the development of tourism destinations, travelers are time-conscious, they want to experience a smooth journey, and usually favour destinations within easy reach, and not only when travelling with children.
Lack of direct air access was one of the negative factors affecting the destination’s performance, highlighted last year by Seychelles Tourism Board’s annual marketing review and with meetings with the travel trade with the French and Italian tour operators. The lack of nonstop flights from key markets is a competitive disadvantage, as tourists may choose other destinations, which are easier to access. It was felt by many that the Seychelles had lost its “Presence” within the key European Markets by not having its national airline fly non-stop.
With the direct flights we will once again attract the families and the repeat clients of an elderly age who were diverted elsewhere due to the cessation of the non-stop flights.
This announcement will rejuvenate all other European markets that had made CDG their hub of choice. One cannot discount the marketing importance of one’s national carrier in a key hub. It demonstrates that we as a nation believe in the French Market & CDG as a HUB of choice for its European network. This will bring in feeder traffic via from markets where we had lost market share since the pull-out of Air Seychelles and could well be the impetus we required to see the Italian business return to once again acceptable arrival numbers as well as from Northern and Central Europe, Russia, Scandinavia & the UK.
The partnership with AF is essential in bringing in connecting traffic from all over Europe and this will once again become possible and lead to a successful route for HM & the destination.
We keep an optimistic outlook provided that Air Seychelles applies the right commercial, pricing and promotional strategies to win back the trust and loyalty of the tour operators in France and also Western Europe who have had in the meantime to build up relationships with other carriers.
All of us – trade, government, airline and STB – will need to invest on getting the message to our professional partners and to consumers and not least to our repeaters who have stopped coming to Seychelles because of the lack of direct flights.
We recommend that the STB reviews its marketing activity and focus both on a trade and a consumer communication campaign to bring the desire to visit Seychelles back in the minds of consumers from France and from Europe.
This is a game changer and for it to succeed, requires that all parties here and overseas have full confidence that the government will stay the course and commit the required funds to keep flying. We ask that the Government gives us its commitment that it will do so’.