Members of the Seychelles’ tourism trade met representatives of the business community and of the government during the second multi-sectoral meeting held recently. The aim of the multi-sectoral meeting is to pave the way forward in overcoming challenges that the tourism industry faces and to touch base on what has been achieved so far in regard to the challenges aired during the previous meetings.
The meeting took place at the National House, Victoria and was chaired by the Vice President Vincent Meriton. Also representing the government were the Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation Ports and Marine Maurice Loustau-Lalanne and the Minister for Environment, Energy and Climate Change Didier Dogley.
Several points of concern were raised during the meeting such as noise pollution especially on beaches and other public places.
Minister Loustau-Lalanne and the principal secretary for environment Alain Decommarmond agreed that an education process should be put in place to sensitize the population about the issue. The police department has been called on to enforce disciplinary measures.
The concern of stray dogs and their welfare was also among the points discussed during the meeting. Minister Dogley said programs have already been set for the year to further deal with this pressing issue.
An education process is among tasks to be carried out in schools. This will be done in partnership with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to help counter the problem on the main islands.
Speeding at Cote Dor was also part of the discussions. The lack of speed bumps on that stretch of road is encouraging speeding and hence noise pollution in this vicinity. Other points of discussion were in relation to the general safety of the roads on Praslin.
Vice President Vincent Meriton agreed that as means to protect the pedestrians and directly the tourists on Praslin more lighting and safer pavements should be placed to help lower risks of accidents.
Additionally, the principal secretary for land transport Patrick Andre said they are coming up with new ideas to share with the general public in regard to driving on Praslin. The use and placement of speed cameras are among the other proposed solutions being considered.
Availability of rooms and hotel capacity were also discussed. Minister Loustau-Lalanne said there are peak periods where there is a lack of available rooms in hotels at certain given periods. He added that this issue is not throughout the year.
The meeting also deliberated lengthily on the planned tourism infrastructures whereby the focus was on the state of the various nature trail. Minister Dogley gave an account of the work that the Seychelles National Park Authority (SNPA) is doing to upgrade the trails, such as erecting proper signboard, the setup of a bin site and the general upkeep.
On the same subject, the chief executive of the Seychelles Tourism Board (STB) Sherin Francis said in parallel to what SNPA is doing, STB is working on a comprehensive hiking guide where 13 national trails have been mapped out, labeled in terms of level of difficulties and would match the various signage which will be erected by SNPA.
Mrs. Francis said STB is undertaking this project in collaboration with two of its partners from Reunion Island.
She also explained since the mapping of all these nature trails has been done electronically, the data would be made available to STB. She added that STB intends to develop a hiking smartphone application which could be used offline once downloaded.
Another point of concern raised during the meeting was about yield versus tourist arrival numbers. Minister Loustau-Lalanne said while the visitor arrival numbers have gone up by 18% for the first quarter of the year, statistics has shown that the yield has not gone up but rather it has stayed at par to 2016 figures.
He added that the 18% is a remarkable increase and should directly contribute more towards the economy of Seychelles. He said the country should be collecting more in terms of revenue and believe we are most probably earning more from this sector.
Minister Loustau-Lalanne said the tourism satellite accounting system that the tourism department is working on should hopefully help to obtain better statistics for the future.