Saint Ange Tourism Report – Edition 10

Saint Ange Tourism Report of Seychelles

Issue Number 10 – Sunday 13th August 2017

Enjoy the read

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Saint Ange Tourism Report

13th August 2017

By Alain St.Ange of SAINT ANGE CONSULTANCY

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Alain St.Ange

Welcome to Edition #10 of 2017.

Our previous discussion on Malika Jivan article on the ‘Today’ Newspaper in Seychelles concerning the lack of foreign direct investment (FDI) in our country prompted significant feedback from readers. One particular point that was raised by a troubled reader is that construction companies tend to book a large quantity of airline seats to bring expatriate contraction workers to Seychelles. With the lack of FDI in Seychelles, airlines are today scrambling to fill these hundred plus weekly seats, which is a cause for concern.

The World Bank has issued its first Systematic Country Diagnostic (SCD) on Seychelles. The report says that the challenge now for Seychelles is to sustain its growth by raising productivity. Raising productivity in a country so dependent on tourism is to ensure that the island’s tourism industry is consolidated for the long term. Many Seychellois have invested their life savings into tourism and they need the security for their investments. Others are employed in this industry and they are breadwinners for their families.

Ten years ago, the financial crash shocked the world and Seychelles. Our islands have fared well and came out as leaders, but is it time to give a boost to the players in this fragile industry to ensure they are able to work facing the situation on hand.

VAT remains a cost which our Government insists can be passed on to the consumer, but in reality is just absorbed by the operator who remains scared of pricing themselves out of the market. Germany and France have been innovative in splitting where VAT is applicable and at what percentage. They have separated the infrastructure and the consumption with a lesser VAT on infrastructure of the hotel’s BED ONLY rate and country’s applicable VAT on extras, such as meals, bar etc. We could stand to learn a thing or two from Germany and France in this regard.

The tourism trade should be encouraged to strive to actively raise the visibility of Seychelles and ensure that the islands remain relevant in the competitive world of tourism. Value for money and the necessity to better the service ethics will need to follow. Customer service skills will need to be honed and improved if we want, as a Nation, to keep tourists coming back to our sandy shores.

Managers in the tourism industry must ensure that their establishment’s staff are upholding the standard that is expected of them. Importantly, the State must allow managers the freedom to fulfill their employment functions. A recent incident involving interference and micromanagement by the State on Praslin Island has prompted fear in the industry that every foreign manager will be reluctant to discipline staff or to encourage their staff members to improve their job performance. In the incident in question, the State allegedly declined to renew a foreign manager’s work permit following backlash from the local staff at the establishment. This will inevitably lead to a further drop in the level of service and in the notion of value for money in Seychelles. There is a real risk that competent and capable foreign managers will think twice about taking up employment in Seychelles for fear of unnecessary interference by the State.

Finally, it is important to again acknowledge all who are diligently re-posting the Saint Ange Tourism Report weekly. Your continued support is greatly appreciated, and is helping us to go from strength to strength with each new Edition.

Enjoy the read,

Alain St.Ange

Saint Ange Consultancy

The First World Bank Systematic Country Diagnostic on Seychelles

The World Bank issued its first Systematic Country Diagnostic (SCD) on Seychelles on 2nd August 2017. Its findings will inform the World Bank’s operational work in the country and contribute to public debate, including as an input to the currently ongoing new national development planning process.

According to the SCD, Seychelles’ economic growth performance has been strong, both over the long term and recently, and employment rates are high. However, as this analysis demonstrates, that growth has been driven mainly by factor accumulation. Although Seychelles is considered to have a high-income economy, our challenge now is to sustain growth by raising productivity.

“While absolute poverty levels in Seychelles are low, inequality is significant,” said Alex Sienaert, Senior Country Economist and the report’s main author, “Increasing Seychellois’ direct participation in an increasingly skills-intensive, sophisticated economy is the paramount challenge for the country’s social sectors.”

The report indicates the need for a development model that fosters strong economic inclusion. In Seychelles, the labour market is increasingly rewarding workers with scarce technical and job-relevant skills. The pressure is on for the education system to equip graduates with the tools they need to reap the benefits of the growing opportunities offered by the Seychelles’ increasingly sophisticated economy. Additionally, social spending is already at generous levels, and needs to be better targeted, to shore up the sustainability of this spending, boost its impact on protecting the vulnerable and empower Seychellois to get high quality jobs.

The report also suggests that increasing state performance is another of the key challenges facing Seychelles today. A high-performing economy requires a public sector that is efficient enough to deliver high quality public services, agile enough to respond to emerging priorities, and small enough not to divert scarce financial and human resources away from the private sector.

The report adds that Seychelles has made much progress on this front and can build on this further to position government and the state-owned enterprises to support a high-performing, high participation economy.

It is to be recalled that this report follows recent insights shared by Maliki Jivan in ‘Today’ Newspaper, where she proposed a series of measures to sustain growth by raising productivity, including a commitment to business, to stimulate FDIs, to encourage FOREX earning businesses and exports, and for Government to be a facilitator of business.

The time to move ahead and look at the tourism and hospitality operators is now. We at Saint Ange Consultancy can restate what the tourism trade has been saying over and over again –

“Seychelles businesses are not competing among themselves. They have to be seen as the preferred holiday in advertised tourism publications. Our Seychelles packages need to be noticed and the businesses need to be able to afford to be remain visible."

ORIGINAL DOCUMENT http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-

release/2017/08/02/world-bank-systematic-country-diagnostic-on-seychelles-meeting-the-productivity-participation-and-performance-challenge

PUBLIC PERMALINK http://www.publicnow.com/view/88A426F931DF0389AB94E5C3B639B8C776F9C04B

Exciting new Excursion to Cousine Island

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Cousine Island Seychelles

An up-close encounter with nesting seabirds, endemic bird species, giant land tortoises, and depending on the season, a nesting sea turtle — these are what conservation lovers are being invited to discover by visiting the small Seychelles’ island of Cousine.

Located some eight kilometres off the west coast of Praslin — the Seychelles’ second most inhabited island — Cousine is now offering day visits for small groups. The new excursion experience on the secluded island, also home to a small boutique hotel, is open to both Seychellois and tourists.

Describing what the excursion has to offer, the Guest Relations Manager on Cousine Island, Michelle Pretorius, said visitors would be welcomed by the conservation team upon arrival, who will brief them on the island’s conservation programme.

The visitors would then be taken on a guided tour of the island’s plateau to encounter and learn about the various species that call Cousine their home, while all precautions are taken to minimize any disturbances to the wildlife.
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“To minimize any disturbance to the wildlife and guests on the island we can accommodate up to a maximum of six visitors per day,” Mrs Pretorius said.

The visit takes around 5 hours, including a three-course lunch and time for the visitors to relax and enjoy the scenery, including the clear azure waters surrounding the island.

“As we are a conservation island with strict invasive species protocol we only allow our boat to beach the island. We therefore can collect visitors from Praslin or we can arrange a helicopter transfer both at an additional rate,” said Mrs Pretorius.

Cousine spans 25 hectares in size, 1.4 kilometres in length and 800 metres in width. Although small in size the island has a big heart for conservation. Rich in natural habitat, it boasts an array of endemic vegetation, which creates the perfect habitat for land, sea and migratory bird species that call the island their home. Nesting sea birds that can be found on the island include the white-tailed tropic birds and fairy terns.

A thriving population of 40 Seychelles Magpie Robin, listed as endangered on the IUCN Red list of Threatened species due to its small population, can also be found on Cousine. Visitors can also expect to meet one of the 80 giant Aldabra tortoises roaming around freely on the island. And if one is lucky to be on the island during the nesting season, the unique sight of a Hawksbill turtle laying its eggs on the beach will come as a special treat.

Aside of the newly introduced day visits, Cousine also has the capacity to welcome an intimate compliment of up to 12 adults & 6 children at its small boutique hotel, which underwent major renovations in 2011, reopening in April 2016.

The hotel boasts 4 luxury villas and a new stately Presidential villa that have been built to blend in well with the island’s lush tropical vegetation.

"The Seychelles tourism industry needs new attractions and tours for its visitors. The yield from tourism will only increase when there is more to do. Congratulations to Cousine Island for being proactive and coming up with this new excursion for visitors to Seychelles"- Alain St.Ange.

Changing the face of Entertainment in Seychelles

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Club Liberté

There are many reasons to go to the Seychelles today, but quality entertainment venues with class and style have until recently not been one of them.

The Seychelles; tropical green islands set in the sparkling turquoise blue waters of the Indian Ocean, welcome the traveller to discover this country often styled as “unique by a thousand miles” – where the houses hug the lower slopes of majestic mountains smothered in green velvet, the dark forest broken by spectacular granite outcrops and where the white beaches fuse into the turquoise seas. These beaches are the glory of the Seychelles and each beach has its distinct character.

Mahé is the main island of the Seychelles and is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and impressive islands in the world, with most of the population of the Seychelles concentrated in the north around the capital, Victoria. Away from the bustling little capital and its business and hotels, there is extraordinary beauty to be found along the coast of Mahé, particularly in the south and over the mountains to the west.

Come to the Seychelles for a romantic vacation, come to stay in a world-class resort, come to dive in crystal-clear waters, come for the deep-sea fishing, come to chill out under a palm tree on a natural beach, come to drink a rum punch by the poolside, come to get a taste of Creole culture and cuisine – these are daytime activities, so what do you do in the evening if you want to get away from your hotel?

There are of course a few entertainment venues open in the Seychelles, but these, even though some are located in major hotels, are in general merely a minor part of the hotels’ entertainment offers, with no attraction for the more sophisticated person who might be drawn to come to the Seychelles to stay in one of the exquisite luxury resorts.

There has always been the demand to have a quality entertainment offer that will match the expectations of the tourists, and new and repeat visitors who love the Seychelles for its tropical uniqueness but who expect to have access to a quality night life experience which lacks in the Seychelles, especially on the South coast of Mahé. Now there is something new.

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A Creole flavour at the Club Liberté

To find this new and exciting place, take a 20-minute drive from Victoria over the mountains to the southwest coast of Mahé, to Petit Anse, where the Four Seasons Resort Seychelles is located. Situated on a lush hillside, it is the perfect setting, with inspired tropical villas verdant with mango, jackfruit and coconut trees, cascading down towards sugary white sands. Here, right next to the Four Seasons Resort, is the first of the new style entertainment experiences – the Club Liberté.

The operators of the Club Liberté are determined that this venue will be that which “changes the face of entertainment in the Seychelles”. With a combination of contemporary and tropical influences, the Club Liberté resembles a colonial plantation house, and the plantation house “spirit” is there as soon as the door opens into the luxurious interior. The Club Liberté is not big, but it raises the bar of the Seychelles entertainment offer to new heights.

The unique offer in the Club Liberté is the Sushi Bar, which is food as entertainment. Be ready to be dazzled by the skills of the sushi chef as he prepares your order right in front of you. Everything is made to order as you wait. This is probably with little doubt the best sushi in the Seychelles.

There is a quality restaurant offer, offering a small but tantalizing menu, influenced by rich and vibrant Creole cuisine or international classics. When you want your food fast but don’t want fast food, check out the restaurant for appetising light bites. The chef utilises the very best of Seychelles produce to prepare a creative and innovative cuisine with tropical accents. The restaurant stays open until late to satisfy those early morning cravings.

Or you can just sink into a comfy chair as you enjoy a coffee or try one of the exotic cocktails prepared by the renowned cocktail barman. Relax with a beer and a snack and watch the world’s leading sporting events with live and recorded action on the big screens, or where cocktails and snacks can be savoured anytime you wish, while watching the entertainment shows. Live music and theme nights, themed to different international as well as local events are designed to attract a wide range of guests.

The Club Liberté is the place to be for entertainment and dining. This is a world-class entertainment venue, ideal for a night out, boasting unrivalled food outlets and bars, and entertainment. Experience all that’s new at the Club Liberté.

Giant Migrations through Seychelles

With the South-East monsoon in full swing in the Seychelles, activities such as boating, charter fishing, diving and snorkeling are not quite favorable for the tourists wanting to experience the best that Seychelles has to offer. On the other hand, the windy season also brings with it humpback whales.

The Humpback whales make their long and arduous annual migration from the cold Southern Waters of the Antarctic, which is also their winter feeding grounds, to the warm waters around the equator. Interestingly, humpback whales show high site fidelity, and Seychelles is lucky to be one of these common spots which they frequent. The humpback whales come to the tropics to give birth. There are many theories for their northward migration but still remains inconclusive to researchers. One hypothesis suggests that they use the tropics as refuge from killer whale predation of their calves. Another is that the calves benefit from thermoregulation being in warmer waters.

Normally, most sightings of humpbacks around the Seychelles occur around the Aldabra atoll and the Outer islands. The Aldabra team has had 23 sightings in July alone with the whales seen to be moving northwards. The team took advantage of a rare calm Sunday to dive along an adult female and her calf. They described the experience as overwhelming, thrilling and quite emotional.

Aldabra Humpback Whales
The team released the following video on social media to share with the world their indescribable encounter.
Although one will need to venture to the Outer Islands of Seychelles for the best chance of witnessing these gentle giants, locals and visitors on Cerf Island had an unexpected encounter recently. They were lucky enough to see a humpback swimming between St. Anne island and Mahe island, only a mere 100 metres from shore. The whale was then seen passing Ile Cachée before it headed out to the open sea just before the airport on Mahe. This is indeed a rare occurrence, and it remains a mystery as to why the whale came so close.

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Photo of the humpback whale cruising past Cerf Island, with Mahe in the background. Photo credit- Anna Marzocchi

Humpback whales are not the only giants that use Seychelles as a hub during the South-East Monsoon. The windy season also brings with it whale sharks. Seeing a whale shark, or even swimming with one, remains one of the most ultimate bucket list experiences by travelers. There are only a handful of destinations around the world where in-season sightings of whale sharks are almost guaranteed, and Seychelles remains one of these destinations.

In fact some of the earliest scientific whale shark records came from the Seychelles. Whale sharks can be seen throughout the Inner Seychelles Islands from July right till the end of October, with common occurrences around Cocos Marine National Park, Curieuse Island, Baie Ternay Marine National Park etc. Although most of the sightings occur off the southern tip of Mahe Island.

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Photo of ecstatic tourists swimming with a juvenile whale shark in the Cocos Marine National Park. Photo source- Seychelles National Parks Authority Facebook page

Article contributed by Ameer Ebrahim, Environmental Consultant

Saudia launches flights to Mauritius

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Saudia

Saudi Arabia Airlines (Saudia) has announced the launch of its three-times-weekly flights to Mauritius on the 14th September 2017. The flights will leave Riyadh with a one-hour stop in Jeddah before heading to Mauritius. These will be operated with a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner with a total capacity of 298 seats, of which 24 in Business Class. Mauritius is the third new destination for the company this year, and the 87th overall.

Seychelles to welcome the Four Seasons Private Jet

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Four Seasons Private Jet

Seychelles will once again be welcoming the Four Seasons Private jet in October next year as part of its new 2018 ‘World of Adventures’ private jet experience.

The Four Seasons Private jet landed in the Indian Ocean archipelago for the first time in November 2016 as part of its ‘Cultural Escape’ tour.

For the 2018 expedition, guests joining the hotel industry’s first fully-branded private jet, will be spending three weeks touring countries across multiple continents.

Starting off in Seattle on October 19, they will travel to Kyoto, Bali, Seychelles, Rwanda, Marrakech, Bogotá, and the Galapagos Islands before their voyage comes to an end in Orlando on November 11.

In Seychelles, guests of the Four Seasons Private Jet will spend three days at the Four Seasons Resort Seychelles, located at Baie Lazare, in the south of Mahé, the main island. The General Manager of Four Seasons Resort Seychelles, Adrian Messerli, said: “Seychelles is a true island paradise – remote and untouched, yet experienced with all the luxurious comfort and caring service of Four Seasons.”

“We can’t wait to welcome Four Seasons Private Jet guests for three memorable days,” he added.

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Four Seasons Resort Seychelles

A packed schedule has been designed to allow the visitors to explore the wonders of the island destination – both on land and at sea. They will be able to choose among snorkeling trips, day tour around Mahé, visiting the UNESCO World Heritage site of Vallee de Mai on Praslin where grows the legendary coco de mer – the biggest nut in the world – and having a relaxing time at the beach.

A special evening featuring a creole-style dinner on the beach accompanied by locally made island rum and traditional music performances is also planned for the whole group.

Launched in 2015, the Four Seasons Private Jet, which carries up to 52 guests, is a culmination of a vision to deliver a fully immersive Four Seasons Private Jet Experience both in the air and on the ground.

Each journey includes air travel aboard the Private Jet, ground transportation, planned excursions, all meals and beverages throughout the trip and luxurious accommodations at Four Seasons hotels and resorts.
The Four Seasons Jet itinerary prices for the new 2018 world of adventures experience begin at $138,000.

Credit:- aTP- Arab tourism portal

Madagascar airports to undergo major revamp

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Madagascar airports are all set for improvement and expansion with the help of the Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund (EAIF). The $245m project is expected to create opportunities and promote changes across the continent.

The upgrade construction work is ongoing on the runways, passenger terminal facilities and related infrastructure of the Ivato international airport in Antananarivo and the Fascene international airport in Nosy Be.

EAIF Chairman David White commented that the Madagascar airports projects represent a step change for the country’s economic development drive. He also referred to the same as important employers in their own right and promoters of growth.

Investec Asset Management (IAM), is one of the largest third-party investors in private equity, credit, public equity and sovereign debt across the African continent and manages EAIF. EAIF is a member of the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG).

Additionally, four international development banks have come together to support the growing projects. The four include the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC), Proparco Economic Cooperation (PPP), the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) and the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID).

Seychelles hooks Giant Marlin

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A photo of Mr. Raed Hassan with his Record breaking Black Marlin, as well as Alati’s owner, Michael Mason and boat crew members; Captain Perry Rosalie, Mangi Katana and Tabu Karissa

On August 9th 2017 Mr. Raed Hassan, an avid angler from the UAE broke the Seychelles Marlin National record, whilst on holiday in Seychelles. The fish weighed in at a huge (881.849 lbs), making it largest marlin caught on rod and reel in Seychelles waters.

Mr Hassan battled the beast for a staggering four and a half hours on 80lb test line. Unfortunately, after the fight the fish was exhausted and could not be released.

Mr Hassan had charted one of Seychelles’ best fishing vessels, Alati. Alati is a Cabo 45’ Express which comfortably accommodates up to 12 passengers or up to six fishermen. The vessel is built specifically for big game fishing, but is also spacious enough to serve as a pleasure craft, with two sleeping cabins, a spacious common room and kitchen, along with ample deck space. Its professional crew includes a skipper and two fishing guides (or one skipper and one cook).

To book your next Big game adventure in the Seychelles, visit their website http://www.a1fishingseychelles.com/en for more information.

Mauritius-Eclectic retro-chic meets barefoot luxury

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Barefoot luxury
A completely re-imagined luxury resort in Mauritius-Eclectic retro-chic meets barefoot luxury. With innovation at their core, LUX* has done it again. This December, they will unveil a fresh new perspective on Mauritius with a re-imagined resort unlike anything else on the island. A pioneering vision from designer Kelly Hoppen delivers a lifestyle that is effortlessly sophisticated, yet blissfully informal.

Amidst lush tropical gardens, LUX* Grand Gaube is enveloped by undulating coves, the calmest of lagoons and is blessed with two tranquil beaches and three spectacular swimming pools.

From generously proportioned rooms with balconies or terraces, to romantic junior suites and showstopper villas with private pools and gardens – all come complete with Indian Ocean vistas and the legendary LUX* hospitality.

As a true destination resort, they also spoil you with space. There is an abundance of places to relax or refuel and extensive sports and wellness facilities featuring a sensational new spa, fitness, tennis academy, golf and water sports. To tempt you from your lounger they also invite you to join them at inspirational classes and expert-led workshops.

Credit: Mauritius from the collection of reports by Riaz Nassurally, the eTourism Consultant Social Media of Mauritius

Activities & Excursions in Seychelles

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Discover Seychelles

Mason’s Travel of Seychelles are inviting visitors to "Explore the Tea Tavern Glacis Nature Trail." This nature trail is short (20-30 minutes) and easily accessible from the road between Victoria and Port Glaud. The path starts just above the Tea Factory and is not far from the Morne Blanc Nature Trail and the Mission heritage site.

The trail presents a wonderful opportunity to view flourishing native vegetation where there is little competition from introduced species, as it is part of a habitat restoration site in the Morne Seychellois National Park. There are also magnificent views to the west and south of Mahé Island.

Plants to be seen include the insect-catching Seychelles pitcher plant and a variety of other endemic trees, palms, shrubs and herbaceous species. Endemic birds such as the Seychelles Bulbul, Blue pigeon, Sunbird, Kestrel and Swiftlet may be seen, as well as the cryptic chameleon if you are lucky. Tiny endemic frogs may be heard calling too.

What was the restoration process?

Restoration is the process of returning a degraded habitat into a healthy ecosystem that is biodiverse and resilient. At the Tea Tavern Glacis, restoration started in 2011 as a small area which formed part of a research project on the effects of vegetation restoration on the Glacis habitat (and its plant and animal community).

The Glacis vegetation was formerly heavily invaded by plant species introduced into the Seychelles, even though Glacis native plants are well adapted to the harsh environmental conditions on these rocky outcrops. Unfortunately, invasive plants compete aggressively with the native vegetation for space, light, water, soil nutrients and pollinating insects.

Often the native species (both plant and animal) struggle to survive the onslaught! So, during the restoration, the invasive alien species have been removed using a method which reduces their chance of re-growing. Although seeds continue to germinate and alien seedlings have to be removed regularly. Fortunately, in some parts, native seedlings are also sprouting and this natural regeneration is encouraged.

Between 2014 and 2016, the restored area was expanded to cover an area of 4.2 hectares. This was enabled by funds from the GEF Small Grant Programme, through a project set up by the Plant Conservation Action group (PCA, a local NGO) and the Seychelles National Parks Authority (SNPA, which carries out the specialised work of removing alien plants).

This funding also enabled PCA to involve the local community of Port Glaud, whose district the Tea Tavern site falls within. Port Glaud residents received some training and have also helped significantly with weeding of alien seedlings and creating a safe pathway for visitors. They will also act as guardians of the site, keeping an eye on progress in the restoration and noting how people are using the site.

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