The Seychelles Minister responsible for Tourism and Culture yesterday official opened the Tourism Annual Marketing Meeting 2013 of the islands. This was made in the presence of the CEO and Deputy CEO of the Tourism Board, the Director of Marketing, all Managers from the different Seychelles Tourism Board’s Offices in the four corners of world and their Marketing Colleagues based in Seychelles, and interested members form the Private sector.
Minister St.Ange used the opportunity to give a short brief on the situation of the island’s tourism industry.
The Minister said: “It gives me great pleasure to speak to you this morning, to welcome you most cordially at the official opening of the Tourism Board’s Annual marketing meeting, the meeting where we look at how we, as an industry and the Seychelles Tourism Board, has performed and how this can be improved for the year 2014.
Friends of the tourism Trade, Tourism has performed well in the year 2013, by year end, visitor arrivals is expected to increase by at least 10% to reach over 228,000 visitors and set another record for the country. Despite the lack of direct non-stop access to Europe, our main core markets has rebounded and increased by 10%, according to latest figures. Indeed, Europe remains the largest market for Seychelles. This is being led by France, Germany, Italy, Russia, although visitors from Italy is still down 7% compared to 2012. Diversification of the tourism markets continue to bear real gains with an increase of visitors from Asia by about 21%, in particular China up 74% and Middle East by 11. Asia is now the second largest market, followed by Africa up 8%, with South Africa increasing by 10%.
For 2014, the Tourism Board foresees an increase of between 5 to 8 per cent in visitor arrivals over 2013 figures. The Tourism Board will continue with its plans to consolidate its efforts in the traditional markets of Europe by channelling adequate funds to appropriate activities – be they marketing activities, road shows, workshops, media or press, this is not forgetting as well as working with existing ‘partners’ who remain passionate about selling the destination whilst seeking new interests at every given opportunity. This approach I fully support, because for many many years Seychelles, and here both the private sector and the Government, have invested heavily to get this market to be where it is today. The market that knows the Seychelles well, that market that now understands Seychelles and that Market that appreciates the Seychelles as a relevant tourism destination for their market.
As we also endeavour to intensify efforts in our emerging markets in Asia, Middle East and the Americas, we are conscious that adequate research continues to be required. This is of prime importance as it will assist us in targeting the right kind marketing to the right ‘clientele’, as well as working with the right ‘partners’ such as the Tour Operators, Press, Media so as to maximise visitor potential.
Important for us all to appreciate are also the constraints we face as we stimulate the different markets. Tour Operator partners will move to seek press visits and educational tours for their agents. This are we are today seriously suffering because we are unable to pay for all the airline seats we need to keep our destination relevant and visible. The big question for you all will be to reflect seriously before looking at new offices and opening new markets, because we are unable to service these markets and then this hurts the destination.
The Tourism Board’s strategy in 2014 also includes to keep on developing our various niche markets with potential to be further explored. Sailing and cruise ship tourism is one where the time is now for us to reactivate and capture the growing market. As Piracy in the Indian Ocean begins to be less of a threat, we must prepare ourselves for 2014 and beyond. We will work with the right partners to reactivate this market, and here we must say that we are relying on the input of our Trade partners who specialise in this kind of Tourism to work with us to make this a success.
In our aim to continue promoting Seychelles as an ‘affordable’ destination, we need to keep on working with the smaller establishments to help them to become active in the world of marketing and sales. Affordable accommodation must be marketed and the right markets for them should be targeted.
Our aim is to showcase the Seychelles as a destination which offers different types of accommodation – and thereby attract visitors from different budget range. We hope that with the willingness and input of the owners and management of such establishments, the year 2014/2015 will see an increase in the performance of our smaller establishments. While talking on small establishments, the Ministry of Tourism and Culture together with the Seychelles Tourism Board endeavour to also look at our various small operators which supports the tourism industry. Today I am happy to announce that following discussions with the CEO of the Tourism Board, proposals are now in place to have a dedicated Senior Marketing Executive to work with, and to work for the small home grown Seychellois establishments and to get them more known, so that they be better prepared to face increased competition.
For us to succeed in achieving all of our targets for the New Year ahead, there are challenges that we need together as an industry to surmount.
The first being accessibility which remains an important factor in the equation. The Ministry of Tourism and Culture, the Seychelles Tourism Board together with the Ministry for Transport we are working together to ensure we remain accessible as a destination to our core as well as our potential markets.
Earlier this year in April 2013, Air Seychelles, now in equity partnership with Etihad, launched its inaugural flight to Hong Kong and only 2 weeks ago, one of our new airline partner, Mihin Lanka in code share agreement with Sri Lankan Airlines, started its new direct services to Seychelles, a new route which will definitely open us to the Far East Market. We remain grateful to still have the partnership of other airlines such as Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airline, Condor and Emirates. We were sad to learn about the suspension of the Qatar Airways services to Seychelles earlier this year, and now more recently with Emirates reducing their number of flights from 12 per week to a single daily flight come May next year. This will be for a few months as works are undertaken on the runway at Dubai Airport. For this reason we have to continue working together to ensure we increase accessibility to our islands. This is a National Concern and one we need to dedicate time looking at our options.
Another vital component of the equation is our tourism Statistics which plays a major role in planning. As we plan for the 2014, it is important that we have the right statistics to work with. To that end the Seychelles Tourism Board is in dialogue with the National Bureau of Statistics with the aim of ensuring that the statistics we are provided with, be it for hotel occupancy, yield or length of stay are accurate. On that note, may I ask the Trade to please co-operate with the National Bureau of Statistics when important information are requested from your establishments and businesses.
Without accurate statistics we are unable to achieve proper planning and forecasts. Important for you to help us to help you.
To be able to compete in this new global competitive tourism world it is of paramount importance that we stay up the curve when showcasing our destination. The making of the Seychelles new destination video along with its various niche market videos and viral of which all of it filming has just been completed will be launched just in time for the ITB Berlin. We also have in-house Imran Ahmad – a professional photographer/diver whose work is well known and respected worldwide. We are confident that he will deliver stunning pictures and footage which will assist us immensely in revamping and reactivating the interest of Diving Tourism in Seychelles.
Friends of the Tourism trade, by mid next year we will also hopefully have our new destination as well as corporate website and a set of e-marketing tools; a combination of smartphone applications and social media which will put us at par to other leading tourism destinations who have already mastered the art of virtual marketing.
Equally important are also our brochures, posters and other print material which the Seychelles Tourism Board is in the process of revamping.
Last but not least, we have in addition as collaterals, the new Sesel Sa publication, a magazine for the tourism industry which we shall continue to work on so that it becomes more and more informative and will be seen as a reference tool for our partners when selling the Seychelles. This magazine is the one publication that will be at every tourism trade fair and used at each and every workshop the Tourism Board organises.
Friends of the Tourism trade, to be able to consolidate our position as a tourism destination, the Government have decided to restructure the Seychelles Tourism Board to make it more relevant in addressing our various challenges in the industry. The Seychelles Tourism Board’s function will now focus on marketing of the destination. The Ministry will assume the regulatory functions of products and standards as well as policy and international cooperation. Events management will move into a new national body being set up.
Friends of the trade, my concluding words today is to make an appeal to various actors that should come together to make this industry works. Marketing Seychelles is not solely the responsibility of the Seychelles Tourism Board and the people of the Trade. Marketing the Seychelles requires the understanding and co-operation of other Ministries and organisations because the ‘Product’- Seychelles is made up of various important components.
From security for our visitors – be it in their hotel room, on the nature trail or on the beach, the tackling of noise pollution and this is more obvious in areas surrounding smaller establishments and public beaches affecting the peace and tranquility statement we make around the world, the increased numbers of dogs and of rats, waste pollution and management, the level of cleanliness needs to be improved, operators who make a quick ‘kill’ by purposefully and knowingly overcharging the visitor, courteous taxi drivers, good customer service delivery by people who work in hotels and other tourism establishments, to name but a few.
This list is for the first time endless and there is a lot of work to be done. The Tourism Board and the Ministry of Tourism and Culture will continue to make noise in the four corners of the world. This we do, and this we have to do to ensure that Seychelles remains visible as a tourism destination, and in so doing relevant as a tourism destination. The day we stop making noise in the marketplace, the pillar of the economy of our country will suffer. Everyone must take their responsibility and everyone must deliver for Seychelles.
The willingness and good will of our counterparts in other organisations, in other Ministries and the public at large can help Seychelles sort out the list of worrying challenges our country is facing today.
I will just repeat that he work of the Seychelles Tourism Board is selling and promoting the destination, this work will be greatly enhanced when the worrying challenges are dealt with, then together we will improve the visitor’s experience in Seychelles and keep our country’s tourism industry on its path of consolidation.
Success can only be achieved if we are all on the same page and if we all move forward with the same objectives and with the same goals. Therefore the input, the support and the co-operation of everyone involved in Tourism remains invaluable – whether you are involved directly or indirectly – your input remains invaluable as we look forward to a successful 2014 and beyond.
But as I call for the private sector and other Ministries and State Organisations, I have to express my disappointment with the Tourism Board’s Marketing Department for being aloof if being part and parcel of National Events organised by the Tourism Board itself or by the Ministry. I have discussed my disappointment with the CEO and your No SHOW for example at last weekend’s SUBIOS, your very own Festival of the Sea shows your disconnection with the new marketing approach using culture, and in so doing people of our country through events as USPs over and above the traditional sun, sea and sand tag line.
With this I would like to declare the marketing meeting opened and wish you all successful deliberation” Minister Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles Minister responsible for Tourism and Culture said.