Tuesday 16th April 2019
Seychelles Tourism
Mrs Sherin Francis and her team at Botanical House, Mont Fleuri, Victoria determine the strategic direction for the tourism industry in The Seychelles with the support of a Board of individuals experienced in the travel industry.

Prior to 1971, when the International Airport opened, it took a determined adventurer to reach the remote archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.

Today, there are daily flights bringing visitors from every country in the world. However, The Seychelles are a destination, not a stop-over to somewhere else. This requires an attractive package to entice visitors to make the journey to the islands. In today's busy and overcrowded world, remote, romantic islands offering sunshine and relaxation are ever more attracitve.

A meeting with Mrs Sherin Francis, Chief Executive Officer, Seychelles Tourist Board and her Marketing Manager identified the targeted approach being made to the industry in The Seychelles.

This approach supports the existing infrastructure of hotels and resorts while being aware of the potential in emerging fields of interest to visitors.

The 115 islands of The Seychelles offer unique opportunities to observe nature in remote places seldom visited by human beings. However if you over-sell the isolation then the experience will be overwhelmed and destroyed by too many visitors. It is this difficult balance that has to be struck.

Niche markets are important - diving, sailing, hiking on the many jungle trails on Mahe, Praslin and La Digue, fishing for big game fish from Victoria and fly fishing on the Outer Islands.

In an increasingly overcrowed world where the people have migrated to large cities, The Seychelles offer a respite from the stress of daily life in an overcrowded environment. A chance to unwind from the pressures of daily life.

The spa experience offers relaxation for the body and yoga can sooth the mind.

The essential challenge is to develop experiences drawing from the many and varied resources of The Seychelles and market those experiences in a rapidly changing world.

Climate change and the environment are of increasing concern to the general public. Eco-tourism is a a growing area with obvious local potential.

The Blue Economy concept developed and promoted by Former President James Michel has raised the profile of The Seychelles in the international community.

The Tourist Board are aware of these opportunities and the need to work with the private sector to develop the right support structures to take advantage of these developing areas.

The Scottish Perspective

A simple comparison - The Seychelles, population 94,000 has more five star hotels and resorts than Scotland, population 6,000,000. Tourism is the major industry in both countries.

The visitor experience in The Seychelles is first class from arrival at the airport. The Seychellois with the help of guest workers understand the concept of customer service. In Scotland, in too many instances, customer service is a foreign concept. There is a lingering resentment that service is somehow demeaning.

There is a growing awareness in the more popular tourist destinations of the concept of over-tourism. This is where there are too many visitors and the numbers overwhelm the local infrastructure. This is happening in Venice, Dubrovnick and in Scotland.

In Scotland, this is mainly due to the influence of popular films or TV series. Outlander and the Harry Potter films have a lot of American tourists visiting Scotland. Their interest is in taking a selfie at a known filming location and moving on to the next. They have little interest in the actual history of the country which is much deeper and darker than any Holywood script.

This influx of visitors is having a detrimental effect on Skye, where additional parking has had to be built at The Fairy Glen, at Glenfinnan where the railway viaduct was a co-star in the Harry Potter series and at Culloden which features in the Outlander series.

Over-tourism is a current problem in Scotland and is not being addressed by the government.

VisitScotland, which is the equivalent Scottish Tourist Board, have closed local tourist offices and spend money on an annual Scottish Parade down Fifth Avenue in New York. This serves to reinforce the image of the country stage managed by Sir Walter Scott when he organised the visit of King George IV to Edinburgh in 1822. All tartan, pipe bands and shortbread. The wearing of tartan by highland clans had been forbidden after the Jacobite defeat at Culloden in 1746 and was no longer worn in Scotland.

Scotland has a rich history and Scots have made major contributions in political thought, engineering and medicine. While the romantic fiction from the mind of one of Scotland's greatest novelists is welcome, Scotland is so much more than the tourist souvenirs on sale in the shops of The Royal Mile in Edinburgh or the airports.

The Seychelles are world leaders in tourism. Scotland lags far behind.