The month of April ended in a new visitor arrival record for the Seychelles, when 20.049 visitors arrived through the international airport, a figure never reached before. This constitutes a 5 percent increase over April 2011, which too at the time had set a new record, while the accumulative figures for 2012 year to date show an increase of arrivals of 5 percent, ahead of forecasts.
This comes amid reports that the French market is experiencing a drop of nearly 20 percent, enough cause for concern to have a high powered delegation led by ministers Alain St. Ange, Tourism and Culture and Joel Morgan, Internal Affairs and Transport head for Paris next week to engage with the tourism trade.
The end of nonstop flights by Air Seychelles in January this year led to a drop in visitor from France and plans by Air Austral of La Reunion, to fly a service from Paris to Mahe were also shelved, leaving the Etihad connection from France, now code shared with Air Seychelles, offering 8 flights a week via Abu Dhabi to the archipelago.
Said a source from Victoria: The tourist board is fighting back to recapture the French market. Other new markets have made up for the loss of arrivals from France and continue good growth but France has always been our biggest foreign market. We will not leave it to others but need to promote the use of flights via Abu Dhabi, or via Doha or Dubai. The airlines are helping and when the delegation leaves on Monday they will meet the key trade partners from France and discuss with them how Seychelles can help to sell better, how the airlines can help to sell better. We now have 28 flights a week through the Gulf and there is enough seat capacity to make this work. It is not nonstop any longer but one stop but we think the appeal of Seychelles as the best Indian Ocean destination will override the issues of the halt of Air Seychelles flights in January if only we explain it well enough.
The Seychelles Minister for Tourism and Culture, Alain St. Ange, was quoted in a media release sent to this correspondent overnight as having said: Our presence [in France] will help reinforce the work being done by our Paris Office in the market and it is our hope that the tourism trade meeting we are holding in Paris will help to regain back our market share.
While in France the meetings with tour operators and travel agents will be complemented by meeting airline officials from France or working in France and, almost needless to mention, meeting the media as the Seychellois tourism marketing juggernaut relentlessly marches on.