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The Seychelles Tourism Department has met with stakeholders interested in venturing into water sports businesses to gather their views and inputs on a newly proposed policy.
The meeting with the relevant parties was held on Thursday 6th July 2017 at the Ex-national Assembly Hall, at the National Library.
The policy drafted by the Tourism Department in conjunction with its partners including the Seychelles Maritime Safety Administration (SMSA) encompasses both motorised and non-motorised sports.
It contains 10 policy statements aimed at regulating ownership or investment in a water sports business, registration of water sports equipment, specific demarcated areas where such activities can be undertaken, the time periods during the day when water sports activities can be carried out among other aspects.
In her opening statement, the Principal Secretary for Tourism, Mrs. Anne Lafortune explained that “the department has found it necessary to draft such a policy, following increased proposals submitted by individuals wishing to go into the water sports business. This is linked to increased demands for tourism products that caters for the more adventurous visitors to the Seychelles shores”.
She further stated that “the policy serves to ensure the right operations of water activity vessels.”
Mrs Lafortune, along with representatives of relevant agencies including the SMSA and the Seychelles National Parks Authority (SNPA), provided explanations based on the views and comments raised by several existing water sports operators present as well as the interested parties in venturing into the sector.
Regarding the specific areas demarcated for water sports for example which currently includes Beau Vallon, Anse Royale, Perseverance on Mahe and Cote D’or and Anse Lazio on Praslin, stakeholders were told that SMSA shall determine and demarcate other areas from time to time to support growing demand for such activities.
With regards to ownership or investments in water sport activities which is to be reserved for Seychellois, questions were raised on the issue of hotels already offering non-motorized sports. Those present at the meeting were informed that hotels are being encouraged to lease out water businesses to Seychellois, and that operators shall be allowed to have only one water sports business.
There were also propositions to revise the time period during the day when water sports can be carried out, to cater for certain groups of tourists wishing to undertake non-motorized water sport activities earlier than 10am.
The authorities took the opportunity to stress on the need for water sports businesses to have properly equipped and manned rescue boats at all times during operation, and to respect the conditions which will be applied to individuals partaking in water sports activities, such as the age factor, where any person under 16 years should not be allowed to operate a motorized water sports equipment.
Once it comes into force, the policy for water sports businesses will go hand in hand with the Beach Control Act that regulates the use of motorized equipment, which the SMSA has been working to amend. The SMSA which is currently going through the process of becoming an autonomous authority will be the one responsible for the issuing of licenses to operators of water sports activities in accordance with the policy.
SMSA has already advised that it will be taking tougher measures to address irresponsible use of recreational watercrafts, including jet skis, where reckless users will be fined or have their vessels confiscated, to prevent repeats of accidents related to water sports activities.
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