Seychelles Third Tourism Festival – Tourism: Back with Confidence

The annual Seychelles Tourism Festival was celebrated on a much smaller scale than the usual weeklong festivities, spanning over just three days. Despite this, the celebrations essentially captivated the importance of this vital industry.

This year’s theme “Tourism: Back with Confidence,” echoes the local tourism industry’s slow but progressive revival. 

The Festival kicked off with the inspiring words of hope from the Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports & Marine, Mr. Didier Dogley on Sunday, September 27, 2020, marking World Tourism Day. The Minister emphasized on the extensive preparations made and the constant improvement of measures and procedures put in place to help face the challenges brought about by the pandemic and kick-start tourism. He also highlighted the vital role unity within the industry plays in its revival. 

Following this, a group of Tourism Pioneers were honored for their immense contribution to the Seychelles Tourism Industry during a brief ceremony held at Tourism Pioneers Park at the Seychelles Tourism Academy (STA). 

This year, the fifth edition of the ceremony took place on September 28, 2020, in the presence of the Minister Didier Dogley; the Principal Secretary for Tourism, Mrs. Anne Lafortune, the Chief Executive of the Seychelles Tourism Board, Mrs. Sherin Francis.  Its chairperson Mr. John Stravens and the academy’s Principal, Mr. Flavien Joubert represented the Seychelles Tourism Academy.

Family members and representatives of the honored pioneers were also present, showing their pride for the recognition of their loved ones.  

Mrs. Lafortune and Mr. Joubert had the honor to unveil the plaque, which featured eight tourism pioneers: Jessie and Carl Collie, Guy Sinon, William Woodcock, Frank and Elodia Payet, Norman Medhurst Esslemont, David Joubert, and Julien Parcou. 

The event, which has now become a Tourism tradition, reminds us that we must honor the people who laid the foundation for the prosperity of our beloved Tourism Industry, which has become the nation’s largest industry. Without their efforts, tourism would not have blossomed into the success it is today.  

In his remarks, Minister Dogley said that celebrating the international tourism day is also a moment for us to take the time to glance back at our history and understand how tourism has become the country’s biggest economic support through the stories of those who were there at the very beginning. The Minister also highlighted the importance of having Seychellois on the forefront if we want to sell Seychellois hospitality.   

The last day of the Festival started with a panel discussion revolving around the issues brought about by the pandemic affecting the industry and the solutions to ensure the survival of tourism in Seychelles.

The panel consisted of Minister Didier Dogley; Principal Secretary for Investment, Mr. Michael Nalletamby; Chairperson of the Public Health Authority, Dr Conrad Shamlaye; Seychelles Employee Transition Scheme (SETS) Chief Executive, Mr Guy Morel; Seychelles Chamber of Commerce and Investment (SCCI) Secretary-General, Mrs. Irouana Pillay; and Seychelles Hospitality & Tourism Association (SHTA) member and Creole Travel Services Chief Executive, Mr Guillaume Albert and was moderated by Craig Francourt Managing Director – CTF Consultancy. 

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One vital observation made by the tourism Minister was the need for the tourism industry to brainstorm new ideas and concepts nodding towards the inevitable move towards digital tourism. 

Ending on a thrilling note, the Tourism Festival closed with the food and beverage competition F&B Masters Cocktail Competition where five finalists were judged for their cocktail and mocktail creations after passing a virtual preliminary round. 

Competitors came from various tourism establishments, namely Hilton Gastro Lounge, Hilton Labriz, Constance Lemuria Resort, Raffles Hotel and Hilton Northolme.

Stunning judge with his Disney’s Beauty and the Beast inspired cocktail “Jolie Chauvage,” thirty-three-year-old Selwyn Dick came out as the victor for the first edition of this competition. 

The Jolie Chauvage cocktail consists of curry and lemon leaves, cinnamon-infused tequila, black pepper, lemon juice and Takamaka Rum, which is, placed in a glass dome-like the enchanted rose from which it draws its inspiration.

Principal Secretary for Tourism, Mrs. Anne Lafortune, highlighted the success of the Tourism Festival despite being low-key this year and the importance of centering discussions around the theme of ‘Tourism: Back with Confidence.’

With Seychelles having been open to tourists for several months now, celebrating such a significant industry remains crucial as it reminds the nation of the efforts being undertaken to ensure its survival and why tourism players are putting up a fight to save this cherished industry. 

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Linda Hohnholz