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The first Multi-sectoral meeting for 2018 was held at the STC Conference Room, on Friday, January 26. The meeting, chaired by Vice President Vincent Meriton, assembled government officials and stakeholders from the private sector, to further discuss and propose solutions to challenges affecting the tourism industry.
The participants were updated on progress made to address some of the issues that came up in the last meeting in June 2016, including noise pollution, stray dogs, illegal tourism businesses such as illegal accommodations, mooring concerns on Praslin, among others.
It also provided the platform for the stakeholders to take stock of the current state of the tourism industry and address recurrent and emerging issues.
Encouraging more tourism establishments to become important markets for local agricultural and fisheries produce, the cruise ship business including the lack of activities and services offered to cruise visitors disembarking in Seychelles, the need to ensure that the appropriate fees are collected from boats entering the Seychelles waters and port, were but a few of the issues raised.
The Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine, Maurice Loustau Lalanne; Minister of Environment, Energy & Climate Change, Didier Dogley; Minister for Employment, Immigration & Civil Status, Myriam Telemaque; and Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture, Pamela Charlette were in attendance to take up concerns relating to their respective portfolios.
Representatives of the private sector who attended include representatives of the Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association, and the Praslin Business Association among others. Chief Executives and officials of various government organizations concerned, including the Seychelles Tourism Board, were also present.
The Tourism Minister, Maurice Loustau-Lalanne stressed on the need for action in 2018, to once and for all sort out the issue of stray dogs, noise pollution, petty crime involving tourists and illegal accommodations.
When it comes to cruise ships, Minister Loustau-Lalanne said with the reduced piracy threats, the authorities will be disseminating the arrival dates of cruise ships so that local businesses will be able to offer the necessary services and facilities to the visitors. He noted that only half of cruise ships visitors are already taken up by the DMCs.
On the issue of crime and safety, he noted that in 2017 there was an increase in crimes against tourists with some 204 cases reported up from 125 cases in 2016, adding that while thefts on the beach and car break-ins are on the decline, thefts in the hotels themselves are on the increase. The minister called on the hotels to seek advice from the police and beef up their security, to ensure the safety of visitors.
Reacting to comments that the Praslin community were not being afforded the same attention as businesses on Mahé, the tourism minister disagreed, adding that businesses from both Praslin and La Digue truly understand the tourism business. He commended the Praslin Business Association, which he said has been coming up with good suggestions since its setting up, and stressed on the need for continuous flow and exchange of information to help the decision making process on issues affecting the tourism industry.
Minister Loustau-Lalanne urged the respective government agencies and departments to act upon the decisions agreed upon to address the various concerns ahead of the next meeting. The second meeting is already scheduled to take place on Friday, April 20.
It is expected that there will be four Multi-sectoral meetings this year.
“It’s a frequency that allows us to report progress following the previous meeting. The intention is to harmonize and to make sure that the tourism business gets the maximum benefit out of all the visitors that come to Seychelles, but at the same time we must ensure that we give value for money and a good service,” said Minister Loustau-Lalanne.