A consultative meeting with private sector stakeholders to discuss the revision of the tourism Boat Charter Policy was held on the 5th April 2019 at the International Conference Centre of Seychelles (ICCS).
The Meeting was chaired by the Principal Secretary for Tourism Mrs. Anne Lafortune and in attendance was the Director for Policy, Research, Monitoring and Evaluation Mrs. Bernice Senaratne, Director for Standards and Monitoring, Mr. Louis Desnousse, relevant government agencies and boat charter operators.
The aim of the consultation meeting was to present and discuss the proposed amended Boat charter policy which dates back to 2008 in order to collect the views and recommendations of the private sector, mainly boat charter operators who will need to abide by this policy.
During the meeting, it was unanimously agreed that Boat Charter businesses should be reserved to Seychellois including all assets. The operators highlighted that by not allowing leasing of capital assets from foreigners, the charter businesses will remain free from foreign involvements. The Principal Secretary also assured the meeting that all 300 registered Boat Charter businesses are fully owned by Seychellois as per the Tourism Department’s records.
One of the main concerns raised by the Boat Charter Operators during the meeting was regarding the availability of qualified and skilled labour. According to the operators, graduates who qualify under ‘My first Job scheme’ do not have the required skills and training for the job. The Assistant Director of the Seychelles Maritime Academy (SMA), Captain Wilton Ernesta also present during the meeting explained that the Academy provides the necessary training for maritime based operations and as of this year they have adopted a new strategy to recruit and produce quality students as opposed to quantity by the year 2020.
The boat charter policy comprised of 11 policy statements which include ownership and investment in the charter business, Fleet size, Qualifications required, Conditions of Licence, Standards to be maintained, Environmental actions, Preservation of the Environment, Operators subjected to Integration policy , Information to be submitted to the relevant Authorities, Non-compliance and Emergency and Evacuation procedures.
The main recommendations submitted by the operators in the meeting were regarding the preservation of the environment statement, whereby they emphasized on the need for better infrastructure and facilities to support this policy. The example of introducing a black water pump out system for the disposal of waste was given in view that currently waste is being disposed in the sea. They will be unable to implement the policy requirements without the proper infrastructure in place. It was also recommended that a Boat charter association should be set up to facilitate dialogue and support the operators and the different activities of this sector.
The Tourism department will be taking into consideration all comments and issues raised during the meeting. The proposed draft will be amended and presented to the stakeholders in a follow up validation workshop.