SEYCHELLES TOURISM ACADEMY LAUNCHES ON LINE TOURISM COURSE
In what surely is another First in the Indian Ocean has the Seychelles Tourism Academy launched their first online tourism course, now available through www.seychellestourismacademy.edu.sc and partnered by the Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth. The launch of the eLearning Sustainable Tourism Course at the Seychelles Tourism Academy by the Seychelles Minister for Tourism and Culture Alain St.Ange and John Lesperance, an education specialist from the Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth has been described by the Principal Flavien Joubert of the Seychelles Tourism Academy as a milestone for the Academy which to join the online Virtual University for Small State of the Commonwealth‘.
The Seychelles Minister of Tourism and Culture, Alain St. Ange, in the presence of the CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board, Elsia Grandcourt and the CEO of NHRDC Mrs Margaret Pillay, said: The launching of the e- Learning Sustainable Tourism Course is a step forward for the Seychelles Tourism Academy. The e-Learning course set into motion will attain the objective of a better trained workforce from the Seychelles Tourism Academy. The country needs a work force from the tourism industry which is better trained, and we are committed in ensuring that our Tourism Academy becomes and remains the professional support for the pillar of our economy. The partnership developed between the Seychelles Tourism Academy and the Commonwealth for Learning is to be commended and I personally appreciate the effort of the Seychelles Tourism Academy to embark on these online courses with the Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth, which I believe will guide the Academy into the right direction in delivering the e-Learning Sustainable Tourism Course.
The Sustainable Tourism Course is part of the existing course of the Seychelles Tourism Academy students in Tour Guiding and Management. Following its online launching on the Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth it will in the near future become a mandatory course for all students.
In his insight on the Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth, John Lesperance explained that the network initiated by and built on the support of Ministers of Educations of developing small States of the Commonwealth will provide support to the Seychelles Tourism Academy on how to deliver courses and build capacity. The Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth will also provide training to the Seychelles Tourism Academy on the use of learning management systems as well as help host the Academys MOODLE server.
Industry sources immediately welcomed the news of the new course element, saying that the use of the latest technologies can only benefit students and as e-learning spreads, classes could even be taken by those already or still in the work place to in the future competently engage in e-Commerce.
Combined with the ongoing transformation of the Seychelles Tourism Academy, which is presently implementing a three phase project constructing new class rooms, a restaurant and conference facility, a dedicated block for hospitality management students, a training Spa and branded villas to acquaint students with the concept of 4 and 5 star service delivery and a 30 room application hotel, this latest innovation is bound to catapult STA to the very top of the African hospitality institutions united under the Association of Hotel Schools in Sub Saharan Africa. Watch this space for regular updates from the Indian Ocean islands tourism sectors.
Archive for September 7th, 2012
SEYCHELLES TOURISM ACADEMY LAUNCHES ON LINE TOURISM COURSE
KAMPALA HILTON MORE EMPTY PROMISES OR FOR REAL THIS TIME
Officials of the AYA Group have yesterday announced that the hotel, due for completion by October 2007 when the Commonwealth Summit was held in Kampala, would now finally open its doors in March 2013.
Full mouthed statements, often bordering the grotesque if not outright incompetent, had at the time of breaking ground, and over the years, purported to finish a floor a week, before it became obvious for Kampalas hospitality industry observers that the developers lacked the capacity to do anything of the sort. Subsequent opening announcements needless to say also came and went, made worse when wrangles with lawyers and issues with other AYA Group companies appeared in the local media.
At one stage the hotel was reportedly put up for sale, at which stage according to some sources government let it be known that this was NOT to happen, as the land was given to the Hamid brothers for literally free, which would have earned them a hefty windfall but left government once again trailing in the wake of hot air.
Subsequently the interested parties pulled away from the deal leaving work at the hotel to meander along at snails pace.
Although a delegation from Hilton was reportedly in Uganda a few months ago, staying at Kampalas best, the Kampala Serena Hotel and getting a taste of what superior hospitality quality can be like in Uganda, no confirmation could be received from Hilton if indeed they are still interested to manage the property or if perhaps another global hotel group may enter the market, which since the discovery of oil in the Albertine Graben has suddenly regained sharp momentum.
New entries in the wider region were Hyatt, taking over the management of a top hotel from Kempinksi, which is now set to open a property in Nairobi, Marriott, due to open a brand new hotel and conference centre in the heart of Kigali while other global groups have reportedly been sniffing around in Nairobi and other regional capitals with the aim to assess market potential.
Hilton is represented in the region in Nairobi and Addis Ababa, but has sold their Taita Hills and Salt Lick Lodges some time ago to Pollmans Tours of Kenya these two lodges are now managed by Sarova Hotels and may therefore indeed wish to get a wider footprint with a presence in Kampala. There, the building of the proposed InterContinental Hotel at the site of what was supposed to become hotel under the Gulf based Kingdom Hotels, is progressing well though no official opening date has yet been set, wisely one should say considering the minefield of public spats and arguments the Aya Group went through when their repeatedly given new dates were all missed by extremely wide margins. Time will therefore be the only one to tell if the latest date of March 2013 will indeed hold water and the hotel finally be completed, or if another twist in the tail of this long standing comedy is yet in store for us all.
Watch this space for regular updates from East Africas hospitality sector.
Following the hugely successful COMESA Tourism Forum, recently held in Nairobi with participants from the 19 member states, the COMESA Secretariat has just notified the participants of another opportunity to meet alongside the COMESA Summit 2012, due to be held at the Commonwealth Resort in Munyonyo, Kampala, Uganda.
Between November 11 17 will a business exhibition take place while the COMESA Business Forum will take place November 13 and 14.
The 8th COMESA Business Forum is an annual private / public dialogue and a dedicated Business Partnerships Forum that brings together many of Africas top business leaders, international businesses and regional policy makers on one platform to engage on common agendas that support business interests in the COMESA region. The Forum is held alongside the 16th COMESA Summit and provides a key opportunity for the private sector to meet and interact with key policy makers from COMESA countries, during the Forum and Summit.
This year, the regional forum in Kampala is co-hosted between the Private Sector Foundation of Uganda and the COMESA Business Council.
It is understood that following the success of COMESAs first ever Tourism Forum in Nairobi in August this economic sector will be on the agenda for the Kampala meeting and both the secretariat in Lusaka as well as the lead consultant are working flat out to provide a range of findings and recommendations generated by the Nairobi meeting for tourism sector participants coming to Kampala.
In the COMESA region, SMEs dominate the business world cutting across all priority sectors in Agriculture, ICT, Transport, Energy and Tourism among others.
Amongst the upcoming agenda points will be two of importance to the tourism industry across Africas largest trade block and it is expected that many attendees of the Nairobi Tourism Forum will also attend the meeting but in particular these two sessions:
GOING GREEN- A NEW WAY TO DO BUSINESS IN AFRICA
· Todays necessity for sustainable businesses. What are the various approaches to renewable energy that support the SME sector?
· A green business has become less of a luxury and more of an obligatory effort for a companys sustainability. The Forum will address the various opportunities of going green and the alternatives available to your businesses.
TOURISM AND BUSINESS
· E- tourism; Tourism Online- bridging gaps across the region;
· The World Tourism Organization (WTO) General Assembly in Africa- what is on the agenda?
Expect live reports from the COMESA Summit and the Business Forum and watch this space to get all the relevant news updates in November.
A series of meetings between the tourism private and public sector, taking place over coming days on Mahe, Praslin and La Digue islands, is expected to raise a number of issues, where according to information received while on the archipelago have concern levels have climbed into the red zone.
One of the key issues, air access, was highlighted to this correspondent when interacting with private sector stakeholders by phone and in person, and strong sentiments were expressed by leading individuals over a range of issues concerning their national airline Air Seychelles.
Let me be candid with you Wolfgang, cutting the nonstop flights of Air Seychelles from Paris and substituting them with Etihad flights via Abu Dhabi has caused us a lot of problems in France. France is a very very important market for us and we are struggling to explain to our tour operators and travel agents, why flights which operated on very high occupancies, which were code shared with Air France, have been dropped. Tourists prefer nonstop, direct flights to those requiring a change of planes and a stopover at another airport. We believe we lost market share in France because we now force potential visitors to fly via Abu Dhabi. That is a pressing issue and it should be seen in the context of our national interest, our national agenda and not giving the partner in Air Seychelles preference over our own vital interests. We appreciate that Etihad has joined hands with Air Seychelles, but we are Seychellois and must see the interest of our own people, of our own country first. The second issue has come from another of your recent articles. We were expecting to have a nonstop flight from China to Mahe. The aircraft Air Seychelles uses can do that. It does not really matter if it is Beijing or Hong Kong, both would be a great opening for us to sell Seychelles holidays. The Chinese market as you rightly said many times, has grown in leaps and bounds over the past years. Our campaign by the STB obviously works to open up that market. But we need a nonstop flight, not again flying via Abu Dhabi. I think this requires a strategic rethinking at the top level of Air Seychelles because they need to learn to think Seychelles, not Etihad. Etihad does not fly to Hong Kong but would code share with Air Seychelles on that route, but what we need is a direct flight to Mahe, not the long detour via the Gulf which benefits the partner more than us.
These sentiments were echoed in discussions with several senior industry captains, and though the Chairman of SHTA, Louis DOffay was unavailable for a meeting due to other commitments on the available days, others were swift to step up and comment, on condition of anonymity that is. And in the process another rising controversy appears to shape up, when news gradually filtered into the private sector that the overseas offices of the Seychelles Tourist Board were to be shifted to the respective Etihad offices. On the face of it done for cost saving measures there seems to be an altogether more selfish interest emerging, namely that Etihad would like to get a full handle on the promotion of the Seychelles in their European and other market places on an exclusive basis. Said one source to these plans: If that is true it is not right. STB needs to be an independent body and operate independently. If Etihad would take over that function, what about our other partners we are working with. How would for instance Condor react in Germany, which is in direct competition with Air Berlin in which Etihad took a major stake. Would they even touch anything coming from a competitor, do any joint efforts which might mean giving hard facts of plans, capacity, fares and tariffs maybe and their main competitor would know it all? I see a big problem there in terms of split loyalties and conflict of interest. And in other markets, would Emirates which is a strong partner of Seychelles tourism, accept having to deal in special deal coordination, special promotion coordination with an Etihad office. Or Qatar Airways, do you think that is possible, do you think that is wise really?
Another source added to it when saying that already the inflight announcement given, as reportedly experienced on a flight to Mahe very recently, was all about Etihad, including their frequent flyer programme, and little if anything came across the announcements about Air Seychelles. I think that battle lines are now being drawn. Etihad has their own agenda and it is not all good news for Seychelles. They were happy to hear that Blue Panorama was pulling out of Seychelles because they now try to capture that traffic via Abu Dhabi. And here is some disturbing aspect of it. Blue Panorama representatives have complained about the cost of handling at Mahe. They say it is several times the price of such services in other of their long haul airports. The interesting thing is that it is Air Seychelles doing the handling. It is a monopoly and Etihad has found a cash cow. Other airlines have raised the issue too. So was Blue Panorama pushed to the limit to then absorb their Italian market for the Seychelles? They invested quite a bit but it seems some elements in the equation were not really as supportive as should be. Perhaps it is time to think of lifting the monopoly and let an international airport handling company come in to lower the cost of flying to the Seychelles? And then there is the open question on Air Austral. They had put ticket prices on the market for their launch of Paris to Mahe to La Reunion flights. It was never fully explained why they pulled out of that, was it objections about flying from Paris to Mahe by someone? Someone we both may suspect behind it to protect their own market? If so, is this in the interest of the Seychelles or of just one party? I think that in the past years Seychelles has created a big brand recognition in the world. The media have helped a lot to achieve that but let us not forget, the work done by our tourist board offices overseas has been just very good too. Why now change a winning formula. What interests are coming into play here? And are the boards of Air Seychelles and of STB really putting us first, Seychelles first, or is there pressure from the partner airline, pressure from somewhere above? It is something which has to come out in the open and you are a friend to us in many ways, so maybe you look into those aspects I have mentioned.
Tourist Board sources were tightlipped over the issue, but as so often, NOT saying something is already part of the answer, and it is expected that the meetings of the public and private sector stakeholders will openly address such concerns and ask, as I did, if some of the proposals are not like shooting oneself in the foot?
Efforts to discuss some of these issues in an open interview with Air Seychelles CEO Cramer Bell were not possible due to his travelling schedule, and as he is the only one who can go on record with the media for the airline, it was impossible to get an authoritative quote on the record. A chat with the airlines General Manager Commercial, Mr. Robin Middleton, while open and friendly, could therefore not cover such crucial elements, but was appreciated nevertheless to provide background on domestic operations as well as covering some gaps on the airlines recent developments and future plans.
Considering the flagging fortunes of Indian Ocean neighbour and Vanilla Islands partner Mauritius, some sections of the private sector are already anxious to maintain the winning formula Seychelles tourism has introduced in recent years and not let any selfish interests spoil it for the many in favour of just one and sink back into oblivion as one regular contributor put it, tongue in cheek of course as the Seychelles remains on course to reach 200.000 visitors this year for the first time ever. True, we are on target right now, but we must strive to do better, use all our available tools to promote Seychelles and not let selfish interests derail us said yet another source while also echoing the opinions expressed by others before.
Hard questions need to be asked it seems and putting the facts on the table during stakeholder meetings will be hugely important to maintain the level of trusted cooperation between STB, the ministry and the private sector, and issues concerning transport, crucially important for an island nation, must not be spared. Seychelles, truly Another World? Lets keep it that way by having common sense prevail. Watch this space as sparks will surely fly.