SEYCHELLES NATIONAL ECONOMICS COUNCIL TARGETS TOURISM FOR GROWTH
When President James Michel chaired the countrys National Economics Council, in short NEC, earlier in the week the meeting had to look at a revised growth forecast for the Seychelles of 2.8 percent, down from the initially expected 4 percent. Global rises in the cost of fuel, combined with inflationary pressures, caused this lower than hoped for new estimate but the discussion reportedly swiftly focused on tourism, which continues to show a remarkable growth for the first almost four months of 2012.
The classic core markets from Europe showed in part a significant reduction in arrivals but the hard work of the Seychelles Tourism Board and the Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association is now paying off. A fresh approach to new and emerging markets saw unprecedented doubling of arrival numbers, for instance from China where already last year numbers literally doubled and are again up in 2012 for the first few months by 95 percent. Other markets, like from the Middle East, also show an increase of over 40 percent year by year, prompting the NEC to task STB and SHTA to prepare a strategy paper of the way forward for the rest of the year, to have tourism once more locomotive the economy forward. Diversification and new products were mentioned as the key for future success and Air Seychelles, now in a phase of re-orientation and looking at a new range of destinations under the auspices of partner airlines Etihad, was also called upon to play their part.
Other significant issues reportedly discussed were the governments plans to introduce VAT from mid 2012, with calls for review of both modalities and time frame to allow for a smoother implementation of the new tax system and to avoid any increase in cost for in particular the tourism industry.
A regular source also mentioned that reclamation of land through artificial peninsulas or islands connected with Mahe by bridges would also be necessary to cater for the increased requirements for office space and commercial premises while pointing out that this might take place under public private partnership in order to shift much of the financial requirements to private investors while government would provide zoned areas and the required permits to go ahead with such new projects, while also supporting loan finance through commercial banks and development banking institutions.
In an interesting turn of events was a principal decision also taken to facilitate the upstart of new airlines based on the Seychelles, subject to meeting regulatory and safety requirements, to improve connectivity between the islands at affordable tariffs, an apparent reference to the huge increase on domestic fares for Air Seychelles flights between Mahe and Praslin, where locals now have to pay the same fares as tourist visitors. Watch this space for regular news updates from the Creole Island paradise of the Seychelles.
Archive for April 21st, 2012
SEYCHELLES NATIONAL ECONOMICS COUNCIL TARGETS TOURISM FOR GROWTH
RESCUED LOW LAND GORILLA TO RETURN HOME
When the Rwandan security forces took a baby gorilla from traffickers last year near the common border with Congo DR, the young animal was kept under close care and supervision for several months, while the authorities tried to establish the origin of the baby. DNA analysis undertaken by the Max Planck Institute in German recently affirmed that the little gorilla belongs to the lowland species, not at home in Rwanda or the Virunga mountains across the border but from a more distant part of Congo, and arrangements are now being made to return the animal home to a special facility near Goma operated by ICCN. The Congolese wildlife managers will then determine if and when the animal can be put back into its original habitat, thought to be at the Tshiabirimu National Parks in Walikale, DR Congo.
Last year at least 6 cases became public knowledge, of lowland gorilla babies being caught by the Rwandan dragnet established to capture poachers and wildlife traffickers, before handing the animals back by the Rwanda Development Boards Tourism and Conservation Department to their Congolese counterparts at ICCN, and only last month did reports emerge that at least three young gorillas were liberate from traders residence in Goma while he sought interested buyers.
Such reports reaffirm the need for constant vigilance and I thankfully acknowledge the support wildlife NGOs like the Diane Fossey Gorilla Fund International whose Vice President Juan Bonilla was reported to have said:
This clearly shows the urgency of the anti-poaching investment we have been advocating for especially in the Eastern DR Congo. However, with that part of the Congo almost lawless due to the presence of various militias and a severely limited administration, directed from distant Kinshasa on the other side of the continent and left without any meaningful funding, that has for long been a major issue with wildlife conservationists. Said one regular source close to the tripartite cooperation office between Rwanda, Uganda and Congo DR in Kigali: Wildlife conservation in Rwanda works very well and their surveillance and interventions are really good. In Uganda too gorilla conservation is a huge priority for UWA, and now with a new board they can find back to their glory days. But Congo is a problem. ICCN is underfunded, visits to habituated gorilla groups on the Congo side of the Virunga massif are a fraction of what Rwanda and Uganda are recording so there is not as much income. And much of that part of the country continues to have problems with upholding existing laws. It is lucrative to engage in illegal mining, wildlife trade and even game meat trade, including meat from monkeys and primates. For that reason our development partners are trying to get Kinshasa to take these issues more seriously and intervene with direct projects. But really, compared to us here in Rwanda it is a drop of water on a very hot stone. Wildlife conservation in Africa needs to get a political ranking of the top 5, because many countries depend so much on wildlife based tourism. Here in Rwanda it works, so why not in the countries around us you need to ask.
True enough, but for now bouquets to the Rwandan authorities and their partners in wildlife conservation like the DFGIF and barbs galore to wildlife traders and traffickers with no regard to the survival of a seriously endangered species. Watch this space.