So why are Chinese tour operators cancelling trips to Seychelles?
Over ebola fears, according to a report in eTurboNews.
Top Seychelles tourism officials have gone to China armed with maps of Africa and this message: Seychelles is Ebola free and safe for travelers.
Alain St. Ange, the Seychelles minister for tourism and culture is in China with Sherin Naiken, CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board, for one-on-one meetings with travel agents and tour operators. They’re selling Seychelles as the new tourism destination for Chinese vacationers.
They started in Beijing with CAISSA Travel Management Co. Ltd., Windy Feeling International Travel Service, and Qunar.com, eTurboNews reports.
St. Ange argued that Africa is 54 countries, not villages, and spelled out where Seychelles was — safely situated in the middle of the Indian Ocean, eTurboNews reports.
It became apparent to a delegation of Seychelles’ private tourism players who want to work with Chinese tour operators, that Chinese travelers have not yet figured out this geographical detail, according to the report. They put Seychelles in the same bag as other African countries. This wrong perception gave the Seychelles’ tourism industry bad publicity.
The Ebola threat has affected Africa’s tourism industry. Seychelles has been registering cancellations in tourism bookings.
“Ebola is on the west coast of Africa; we sit off the east coast of Africa,” St. Ange said. “Yes, Seychelles remains part of Africa, but we live our lives as a small island nation well outside all the difficulties that are ravaging this continent.”
Tour operators and travel agents in China are convinced the Ebola threat in West African countries is a wake-up call for the continent, eTurboNews reports.
“China is still overcoming its SARS lesson, and with the Ebola outbreak,
travelers are conscious of their choice of holiday destinations,” according to CAISSA. Chinese tour operators and travel agents say there
needs to be continued management of the epidemic to ensure travelers’ behavior does not boycott the continent as a whole.
St.Ange and his delegation plan to go to Xiamen and Shanghai armed with a map of Africa showing clearly the position of Ebola-affected countries and where Seychelles is situated. The same message will be repeated, the report said.