The Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine, Didier Dogley, held his first press conference last week, since assuming the portfolio in April this year.
This is in line with President Danny Faure’s recommendation that all public offices should regularly disseminate information to the public.
The press conference was held at the ministry’s headquarters at Botanical House, Mont Fleuri. It was also attended by the heads of the various departments and agencies that fall under the Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine ministry.
This includes the Principal Secretary for the Tourism Department, Anne Lafortune and the Principal Secretary for the Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine Department, Garry Albert.
The Chief Executive of the Seychelles Tourism Board (STB), Sherin Francis, the Principal of the Seychelles Tourism Academy (STA) Flavien Joubert, the Chief Executive of the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA), Gilbert Faure. The Director for Projects and Infrastructure, Franky Laporte and Captain Percy Laporte represented Seychelles Ports Authority (SPA) and the Director General of the Seychelles Maritime Safety Administration (SMSA), Captain Joachim Valmont were present. Michael Berlouis and Sheryl Barra represented the national airline, Air Seychelles.
In his opening statement, Minister Dogley mentioned the importance of making information available to the public.
He expressed satisfaction with the ongoing work and projects being undertaken by the ministry.
“Having been at the head of the Ministry of Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine for 3 months now, I feel it is important, that my ministry including all its agencies provide an update of our various ongoing projects,” said Minister Dogley.
Commenting on tourism, the main pillar of the country’s economy that falls under his leadership, he noted that the destination has recorded 192,000 tourists since January 2018, which represents a 1% increase over last year for the same period.
In terms of tourism earnings, Minister Dogley noted that since the beginning of the year there has been a 24% increase in foreign currency (USD) recorded by the Central Bank of Seychelles compared to the same period last year. Commenting on the 1% increase in visitor arrivals since January, Mrs Francis said STB is aggressively working alongside trade and airlines partners to increase the numbers.
She noted that STB has been working towards increasing visibility by capitalising on the use of digital marketing initiatives, citing the digital marketing workshops held in June for Mahé, Praslin and La Digue, and the launch of another edition of ‘My Seychelles Experience’ video competition.
Mrs. Francis mentioned that Seychelles would be hosting the closing of an international golf tournament; Staysure 2018 Tour Season in December as part of its marketing plan to increase visibility and diversify the visitor segments by also promoting Seychelles as a sports destination.
Still on the subject of tourism, PS Lafortune explained that her department has been actively working on resolving the issue of increased number of illegal tourism accommodations in the country.
She further noted that the department would be boosting efforts to raise the level of service in the tourism sector through the hotel grading policy that will be implemented soon.
She also mentioned the active work being done concerning the Tourism Master Plan and the success of the Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Label among the hotels.
On the part of STA, Mr. Joubert informed the press that the academy’s management is working actively on the recommendation made by the trade to get students to have more practical experiences.
He explained that the 2-months overseas work attachment for management students has been extended to six months and in 2019, they are anticipating to place students on a one-year internship.
PS Albert said his office has been concentrating on reviewing the legal framework and providing more practical, up-to-date as well as adequate legal support in line with the international standards of operations for all the entities that fall under his responsibility.
On the part of Air Seychelles, Mr. Berlouis mentioned investments that are being made in terms of new technologies to improve the customer experience, citing revamping the airline’s website and online checking systems, as well as upgrading the standards of the airline.
For SCAA, Mr Faure said that there has been much emphasis on safety, security and service. He explained that the organization’s focus is to improve the current physical and labour force set-up to meet its target of serving eight hundred to one thousand passengers per hour during peak hours.
Mr. Franky Laporte, the representative from SPA mentioned the various projects being undertaken to improve the ports facilities. He said the extension of Port Victoria is imminent and that the tender will be published by 2019 and the project should be completed by 2022.
He further mentioned that the project on Eve Island on Praslin to improve the passenger jetty and terminal building facilities is expected to start in August of this year.
When giving an update on the work being done by SMSA, Captain Valmont said the organization awaits the legislative support needed to fully discharge its mandate and address challenges such the handling of Jet ski Owners and Business Yachts anchoring in the Seychelles territorial waters.
He also reported that the SMSA has committed to investing in staff training.
Minister Dogley closed the meeting with an announcement regarding the annual tourism week held in September.
He said that the department believes in propelling the magnitude of the event with the aim of engaging all stakeholders and the general public.
This year the theme of the event will be in line with the SHTA campaign “We are Tourism.”