SEYCHELLES TOURISM TAKE AIM AT CHINA
As Gulf based airlines are gearing up towards 25 weekly flights between the Gulf and the Seychelles by late 2011, Emirates will by going double daily later in the year, Qatar Airways going daily and Etihad joining the throng with initially 4 flights a week, many people have been wondering where all those passengers will be coming from, streaming to the Seychelles from abroad and connecting at one of the Gulf’s modern glass, chrome and marble airport terminal ‘palaces’.
All these airlines fly to the world’s most populous nation, China, and with the Chinese set to become the world’s number one travelling nation in a couple of years, the Seychelles too is taking aim at that market to bring more and more of them to the archipelago for a ‘holiday of a lifetime’ – filling the beds in the new and existing resorts and helping the airlines to fill their seats in the process.
‘As usual’ Emirates was ‘on board’ recently when a sizeable tourism delegation from the Seychelles descended on China last week to attend the ‘Beijing International Tourism Expo, but in the process also to celebrate 35 years of diplomatic relations AND the Seychelles National Day, all wrapped in one.
STB’s Deputy CEO Elsia Grandcourt led the delegation and used the opportunity to introduce to over 300 invited guests at a special ‘Seychelles’ function their recently installed marketing executives for the Chinese market, who are based at the archipelago’s embassy in Beijing. On the same occasion Kempinski Hotels, of course also operating a 5 star luxury hotel in China’s capital, announced to the Chinese market their entry into the Seychelles, where they are set to open a luxurious resort late this year.
Air Seychelles, according to information given to this correspondent by the Minister of Transport in an interview in May, is also looking at the Far Eastern market and the Seychelles government is working on establishing traffic rights with an eye on a code share arrangement with an airline from the Far East, and probably in fact from China, to more aggressively tap into that promising market and tourists nonstop to the archipelago. Air Seychelles already fly once a week to Singapore and this single flight could be extended and frequencies expanded, as and when negotiations are concluded.
Meanwhile, having been to the Seychelles only last month, groups of Chinese tourists were already seen at the Le Meridien Barbarons while more individual Chinese travelers were also observed on this correspondent’s flight with Emirates from Dubai to Mahe, probably a sign of a lot more to come in the future as STB’s promotional efforts and marketing offensive starts to pay dividends.
Watch this space.