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Government officials met with stakeholders from the private sector in the third Multi Sectoral meeting for 2017 to discuss and propose solutions to challenges affecting the tourism industry.
The meeting held on Friday, June 23, at the Ex-National Assembly Hall, National house, was chaired by the Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine Mr. Maurice Loustau Lalanne.
A presentation on proposed changes in entrance fees for visitors to access the national parks and marine parks, mooring concerns on Praslin, stray dogs and tax on hybrid and electric cars were the main items on the agenda.
The Chief Executive of the SNPA, Flavien Joubert outlined the authority’s intention to strengthen tourism in the National Parks and financial needs required to achieve its objectives. Through a PowerPoint presentation made by Andrew Rylance, a Technical Advisor contracted through the GOS-UNDP-GEF protected area finance project, those present learnt that SNPA’s financial needs currently double its budget allocation.
Proposed strategies to increase revenue include increasing entrance fees for non-residents to the national parks and the payment of a one-time fee for tourists staying at hotels bordering marine protected areas. Details were also given on proposals to ensure the efficient collection of revenue that would be used to invest in conservation management and to improve tourism products.
Several points of concern were raised by the stakeholders including the need to improve the product value and safety along the trails and terrestrial parks. On the need to increase revenue, the trade proposed the setting up of kiosks to sell locally made products as well as for the one-time fee to be extended beyond the hotels bordering the marine protected parks.
Minister Loustau Lalanne who saluted the efforts of the SNPA highlighted that there should be more consultations with immediate stakeholders that would be affected, before a final decision can be taken on the proposals.
Aside of Minister Loustau Lalanne, the Minister of Environment, Energy & Climate Change Mr. Didier Dogley, Minister for Employment, Entrepreneurship Development and Business Innovation Mr. Wallace Cosgrow and the Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture Mr. Michael Benstrong were also present at the multi sectoral meeting. Representatives of the private sector who attended include representatives of the Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association, the Seychelles Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Praslin Business Association among others. Chief Executives and officials of various government organizations concerned were also present.
The other three items on the agenda were brought forward by the newly created Praslin Business Association, chaired by Mr Christopher Gill.
On the issue of stray dogs, which is in fact affecting all three main inhabited islands, Mahé, Praslin and La Digue, the stakeholders were given details on a new draft bill that seeks to amend the Dog Control Act. Once it enters into force – on January 1st 2018 – the provisions of the new act should help resolve the issue of stray dogs.
Currently in the white paper stage, members of the public are being invited to give their views on the new bill through a series of meetings, which will start in July. The new act makes provision to have dog shelters on the three main islands to house stray dogs until their owners can be located, or they can be re-homed. Ultimately, dogs that cannot be found a home after a set time period will be put to sleep.
On the issue of moorings it was felt that there should be more designated moorings on Praslin. It was pointed out that this would help generate revenue as mooring spaces can be rented to yachts and this would also help to protect the reefs and limit accidents.
Minister Loustau Lalanne remarked that there are plans to increase the number of mooring buoys on both Mahé and Praslin. Some 45 new mooring buoys are expected to be installed alongside the existing 78 at several marine parks.
On the issue of tax on hybrid, the stakeholders were informed that revision in tax rates announced by the Ministry of finance makes provision for the new tax rates to be applied based on the engine capacity of the hybrid vehicles, while 100 percent plug-in electric cars are not subject to taxation.
Statistics of crimes for the period of January to March 2017 was also presented. It was noted that an increase in crimes and other illegal activities had been recorded in the vicinity of Port-Launay and Baie Ternay during that period. Additionally, statistics for May show an increase in illegal activities at the Beau-Vallon beach.
The participants of the meeting were also updated on progress made to address some of the issues discussed at the previous meeting.