Tourism Seychelles, the nation’s tourism department, exists today as a catalyst for sustained tourism growth and development in Seychelles.
As a strategy-focused department, Tourism Seychelles is committed to creating a conducive environment for the development and maintenance of an authentic, dynamic, streamlined, and sustainable tourism industry.
That ongoing mission reflects the importance of tourism to the Seychelles economy and the social well-being of its population. This set of ambitions also delivers value for money and a unique visitor experience through innovation, strategic partnerships, and coordination, providing information, measured communication, and capacity development. We speak to Sherin Francis, Principal Secretary.
Q&A WITH SHERIN FRANCIS, PRINCIPAL SECRETARY, TOURISM SEYCHELLES
Can you talk us through the origins of Tourism Seychelles and its initial vision?
Sherin Francis, Principal Secretary (SF): Tourism in Seychelles dates back to 1972 and the opening of the nation’s first international airport. Before then, a handful of visitors trickled in via the sea. The original tourism strap line was ‘unique by a thousand miles’ and spoke to the largely rustic experience it offered, combined with great authenticity and good old island charm.
What are your organisation’s current goals and how do you plan to achieve them?
SF: We envision high value, low impact tourism. For this reason, a lot of our programmes focus on the diversification of our products and offerings, especially regarding offering more authentic experiences and ones with greater sustainability.
Currently, Seychelles, under its tourism strap line, ‘another world’, looks to offer an unrivalled experience of raw nature and a unique opportunity to engage with the Creole lifestyle via our rendezvous programme. For Seychelles, the environment and sustainability are extremely important to ensure a superior holiday experience for today and tomorrow. We achieve these goals by interacting with potential clients via our very active digital and social media platforms, along with trade fairs, workshops, and more.
Why, in your opinion, should someone visit Seychelles, and what for you defines the country?
SF: Seychelles is simply another world! With a population of only 100,000 and located off-the-beaten-path, our islands offer a basket of experiences that includes diving and snorkelling, sailing, hiking, world-beating beaching, swimming, health and wellness, adventure sports, golf, gastronomy, and cultural immersion, all from a range of accommodation that includes 5-star opulence, large and small hotels, villas, local guesthouses, and self-catering. Seychelles truly has something for everyone!
As a culturally vibrant nation, what type of travellers does Seychelles typically attract?
SF: Seychelles attracts a broad range of visitors from across the globe, from Europe to the Middle and Far East. Visitors range from the wealthy to those on a budget. From empty nesters to young families and solo travellers, all these varieties are attracted to our land of perpetual summer where harmony is a way of life.
What does the nation offer in terms of sustainable or eco-friendly travel experiences? Do you have any goals in place regarding this?
SF: Sustainability and eco-travel are important components of our tourism makeup, and we take great pains to nurture them. Some of our smaller islands offer exceptional eco-experiences and it’s crucial to not forget that over 50 percent of our limited landmass is set aside as natural reserves and marine parks. We are conscious of the fact that the newer generation of travellers seeks out these experiences and we are well positioned to provide them with what they are looking for.
What recent trends are currently transforming tourism in Seychelles?
SF: Experience travel has evolved into a large economy, and at present, we also have more and more visitors looking to escape normal life and enjoy a digital detox.
Are you optimistic about the future of the tourism industry in Seychelles, particularly with regards to bouncing back from the COVID-19 pandemic?
SF: Seychelles has a resilient brand that resonates strongly in the tourism world. Obviously, we are not in control of adverse international events such as wars, pandemics, and economic downturns in certain parts of our market, but we remain confident that our brand can deliver and are determined to do so.
Are there any particularly unique experiences or underrated activities that the country has to offer, which are perhaps lesser known?
SF: Seychelles is a land of secrets, and we offer many opportunities to interact with raw nature via our network of walks, trails, and stunning range of marine parks.
Additionally, our Seychelles Creole cuisine is delicious, and foodies will love the experience of dining with their feet in the sand at restaurants dotted about the islands. We offer adventure sports such as zip lining and horseback riding, but you can’t beat a sunset cruise with a cocktail in hand to enjoy the coastline in much the same way as the first explorers of the islands.