KEEP SEYCHELLES SAFE SAYS TOURISM MINISTER, WE DEPEND ON TOURISTS
As the murder trial on Mauritius is now underway, where two suspects are standing trial over allegations of having killed British tourist Michaela McAreavey in her hotel room, the Seychelles tourism establishment left no opportunity pass last week and this week to publicly promote the concept of further improving safety and security for the visitors to the archipelago by calling upon the public to appreciate the value tourist bring to the country in terms of foreign exchange, investments, job creation through the sector and via secondary and tertiary employment and the goodwill satisfied tourists take back home with them.
This campaign for public awareness and the need to keep our visitors safe and out of trouble is not linked to what is going on right now in Mauritius. Yes, of course it has been in the news that the trial is now underway but we have always promoted amongst our people to be friendly to visitors and look after them if they get lost somewhere. We know that internal peace in Seychelles is crucial for our success, and government is having many initiatives underway to help young people to build a career. STA is offering more study places than before and when the new academy is ready we think we can meet manpower demand through graduates. There are start up business schemes available to build a business, from guest houses to fishing trips, guided tours to the Morne National Park and so much more. We are looking at arrivals now by end May and if the projections are right we will again up our numbers compared to a year ago. For 2012 Seychelles hopes to attract around 200.000 visitors, and in comparison to others small here is beautiful We are not and never will or can be a mass destination because sustainability is at the centre of what we do here. Occupancies will rise when we reach this number and every year we hope to add little by little until we have reached a number were sustainability meets demand. To achieve that we must not forget that our visitors must be safe and secure when here with us and that is the reason why the topic was raised, not because of what goes on somewhere else. We do not exploit others woes but follow our own strategies said a regular senior source on the islands when asked if the timing of the tourist safety and security campaign was purely coincidental or deliberate.
Seychelles Minister for Tourism and Culture Alain St. Ange in turn had this to say in a public statement availed to this correspondent: This is one of our important unique selling points. The world at large knows we are a peace loving people. The world at large knows we remain not only safe, but very safe. This asset we must all defend and we must all stand together to safeguard. He then went on to explain government policy vis a vis tourism and employment opportunities: Our President wanted to extend a hand to our people at large to enter the world of tourism. He said this as he launched the Seychelles Brand of Tourism. This brand of tourism for Seychelles by Seychelles is to ensure that the industry that remains the pillar of our economy is consolidated for the long term. The tourism business in Seychelles must not become only for big businesses, every Seychellois who so desires must see themselves in the industry not just as employees, but also as players, as business men and women. Everyone involved, everyone so implicated will defend his or her industry before ending with an example of how tourists are safe in Victoria even at night: Last year and again this year at the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands Carnival, known as the Carnival International de Victoria which is jointly staged by Seychelles and La Reunion we saw several people including visitors sleeping in Victoria after the street party and they did so without fear because of the safety label we continue to enjoy. This we must never lose as the peace loving mid ocean islands of Seychelles. Minister St. Ange would not be drawn however into discussing the recent announcement by one Karl Mootoosamy, Head of the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority, that they would stage a rival carnival festival within weeks of the announcement being made last weekend, baffling the tourism sector both at home in Mauritius and abroad, where it is largely felt that MTPA had ran out of ideas and was grasping at straws in a desperate Copy and Paste attempt to upstage the Seychelles. Understandably would the Minister St. Ange not wish to add fuel to the fire raging in the public domain and on social networks over MTPAs move but going by feedback from Mauritius itself it seems a hugely controversial decision, and being made as the murder trial is underway it was also felt that it was a timed smokescreen to divert international attention away from the trial, unsuccessfully as it appears. Watch this space to get regular updates from Seychelles Another World.