(eTN) - Figures just released by the Seychelles National Bureau of Statistics have put a big smile on the combined faces in the archipelago's tourism industry, confirming a 12 percent rise, year-on-year, of arrivals in the first week of April.
2011 was already a record year for the Seychelles, and the tourism planners at the Seychelles Tourism Board (STB) had, in view of the economic challenges in their European core markets, put a cautious annual growth rate of 4 percent out for 2012, expecting a rise in arrivals from last year's 194+ thousand to about 200,000.
When hearing about this surprisingly strong and positive trend, a regular source from Mahe answered overnight with this comment: ââŠthe foundation of it all is the partnership of [the] private and public sector. In January 2010, we had a very intense period to discuss marketing strategies, and everyone came on board when we agreed to open new markets. China, Russia, the UAE were all targeted, and since then, our partner airlines have added a lot more capacity to make it possible for those markets to grow. China, last year, nearly doubled arrivals; this year, after Q1, we are again seeing a near doubling with 95 percent plus in numbers. Russia is up by over 50 percent, the United Arab Emirates where Seychelles is really seen and recognized now as a top destination is up by over 40 percent. We still have a long way to go but are on course to meet our targets for this year to reach 200,000 visitors for the first time ever.
âThe other reason for our success is how government has responded to the needs of the private sector over the past years. STB was restructured twice to meet the challenges the world of tourism today poses for destinations like the Seychelles. Mr. St.Ange was able to put a great team together in Bel Ombre and overseas. He brought the global media on board, and whatever skeptics there were to start with, they have all had to admit that the strategy we jointly developed was the right one. The presence of industry representatives on the board, a good chairman, a top CEO, and the interaction with the hospitality association has made a lot of difference. We have challenges, but we sit down and talk them over, we develop solutions. We created new attractions like the carnival, we now have a calendar of key events and top sponsors for each and every one of those, and we have new top-class resorts for the high-priced end of the market and more Seychellois-owned guest houses, bed and breakfast, holiday villas for the budget visitors than ever before. We are proud as Seychellois of what we have achieved, and we are thankful to our partners around the world, the airlines, the travel trade, and the media for supporting us and making this possible.â
Sentiments often heard and often written about but now once again backed up with facts and figures, as the statistics received from Victoria overnight show.
In a related development, it was also confirmed that Air Seychelles and Etihad are now on course to add a 7th frequency on the route between Mahe and Abu Dhabi from mid-2012, then offering daily flights, operated on a codeshared basis between the two partner airlines, allowing further penetration of emerging and new markets for the Seychelles in line with Etihad's growing global network. It was also confirmed that the fleet exchange project was on course and that the remaining B767-300s would be returned to the lessors, ILFC in the United States, before A330 aircraft will be introduced to fly in Air Seychelles livery. Crew training is reportedly in progress already towards that end in Abu Dhabi.
Source: Dr. Wolfgang H. Thome, eTN Uganda