Seychelles tourism falls out from Ukraine, Russia conflict
Tourism is the lifeblood of the Seychelles economy, accounting for 70% of GDP. Over 240 000 tourists visit the islands annually. Europe remains the country’s biggest market.
"Without Europe we would be dead but when Europe went into economic difficulties we diversified very fast. (JC) Russia today is an important, very important market for Seychelles. they’ve not been affected with the crisis that is taking part but Ukraine was as important and there we’ve suffered," Seychelles Tourism Minister Alaine St Ange said.
The Island is famous for its pristine blue waters and white sandy beaches. China and the Middle East are also becoming key markets. While tourism is growing in Seychelles, the government is clear that it doesn’t want to over commercialise the Islands.
"We also don’t want every beach of Seychelles to disappear. We want the people to keep getting access to that so we have calculated with the land use plan where a hotel can be built and what types of hotels can be built," Alaine St Ange said.
While these beautiful white beaches remain the main attraction in the Seychelles, tourist operators are looking at other ways of using the island to provide a better offering to tourists.
"If they are staying on Mahe they will definitely want to do Praslin and La Digue. So during their stay they will not see only one island. Sometimes they will be doing three or four or five islands depending on the excursions. The excursions, they are daily excursions that we have," Doris Coopasamy, Product And Contract manager with 7 South, said.
Seychelles remains largely underdeveloped. A strategic move by the government to preserve the country’s natural beauty.
"The unique beaches that we have and you know the coral and the granite make-up of the islands is very unique and sets us apart from Maldives and Mauritius. And our eco tourism policy and stategy is about preserving the islands," May De Silva, marketing manager for 7 South said.
Seychelles is working hard to attract tourists from new markets and reduce its dependence on Europe, especially in light of what’s happening in Ukraine. But its hopeful that tensions in that region will soon subside.