TOURISTS FLOCK TO SEYCHELLES AHEAD OF ELECTIONS
‘Brand Seychelles’ not only rules the Indian Ocean it seems when it comes to visibility and magnetic attraction for seekers of exotic holidays in near eternal sunshine on white powder sandy beaches, but has seemingly also trumped the upcoming general elections, which are being held this coming weekend and – due to the expanse of the archipelago – take place between 19th and 21st of May.
Ahead in terms of tourist arrivals by 9 percent already, compared with the all time record breaking year of 2010, there seems no stopping the trend, and here too the Seychelles appear to be setting their own unique way of things. Almost all countries in Africa – the Seychelles does geographically belong to the continent and is a member of the African Union – experience a dent in arrival stats when elections loom on the horizon, with some even going into near free fall as tourists and business visitors stay away to watch the outcome from the distance. Not so in the Seychelles however. While known for competitive politics which at times in the past could easily be described as almost fierce, the economic changes rang in by the government of President James Michel over the past years, which did include a complete overhaul of the country’s tourist board and the introduction of a real private public partnership, did much to keep the people of the Seychelles content with their political leadership. As any opposition anywhere, on the Seychelles it too plays a role of ensuring accountability of government but with President Michel at the helm of the country his policies have been seen as generally inclusive and blessed with the good fortunes of weathering the challenges of the 2007/8 world economic crisis better than many others there seems no stopping him from securing another term of office, when the results are published. He was well advised to nurturing and developing the two key sectors of the economy, tourism first and foremost and fishing, where the country’s robust anti piracy responses have won them much acclaim amongst the naval coalition. Intensified foreign relations have led to an investment boom on the islands and conducive Visa arrangements, NONE ARE NEEDED, allow visitors from around the globe to flock to the islands, only needed a confirmed hotel reservation, a return ticket and sufficient funds to pay for their expenses while in destination. Double daily flights by Emirates has now put the Seychelles one stop away from most population centres around the globe, giving the archipelago’s tourism sector an added ‘shot in the arm. This correspondent will be reporting live from the Seychelles, speaking with Seychellois going to the polls and also with tourists in the resorts about how they, if at all they know that elections are going on, feel about spending their holidays on the resorts of Mahe, Praslin, La Digue and the other islands while elections are being held.
Watch this space.