Avani Seychelles Barbarons Resort & Spa was the latest hotel to receive a visit by the Seychelles Minister responsible for Tourism and Culture and the senior management team of the Ministry and its Tourism Board. This visit to Avani Barbarons followed stops at a number of small Seychellois-owned units. Minister St.Ange used this visit to meet the General Manager of the resort and his senior management team in what can be described as a management meeting of the resort. After an open and frank discussion on the challenges facing the hotel and a follow-up brief by the Minister on the proposed hotel classification of grading scheme, Minister St.Ange touched on complaints that had reached his office on the subject that car hire vehicles are being used to transfer guests to and from the airport to the resort.
The resort has also been at the center of a point of annoyance seen by taxi operators whereby taxis stationed at the hotel were bypassed and car hire vehicles were being used instead to transport clients. A second point that angered the taxis parked at the resort’s taxi bays was the continued scheme where some hotel staff would call in taxis of friends or relatives when a taxi booking was needed.
Alain St.Ange, the Minister for Tourism and Culture, took time on this door-to-door visit on the western coast of Mahe to address these points with Mr. Manish Jha, Avani Seychelles Barbarons Resort & Spa General Manager, in a bid to ensure the licensing laws of the country were respected.
Minister St Ange said it is illegal for car hires to be contracted to do airport transfers as if they were a defacto taxi service.
He said that a car hire company must respect the condition of their license, and airport transfers should be done by taxi operators, or if on a package holiday, by their DMC.
Solving the issue of the resort not using taxis stationed at the resort’s taxi bays to transport clients, Minister St Ange appealed to Mr. Manish Jha to investigate into the matter as it is not ethical and was leaving a bad taste in the mouths of taxi operators.
After the meeting with Avani Seychelles Barbarons Resort & Spa General Manager, Minister St.Ange; Anne Lafortune, Principal Secretary of Tourism; Sherin Naiken, Chief Executive of the Seychelles Tourism Board; Mr. Manish Jha; and the resort’s front office manager met Davidson Madeleine, Chairman of the Taxi Association, and its members to discuss the points as discussed by the resort and the Ministry.
Minister St.Ange, chairing the meeting, said Avani Seychelles Barbarons Resort & Spa has agreed to solve the discrepancies on transfers and to work to also solve the issue raised about bypassing taxis stationed at the resort’s taxi bays.
The minister said, while the hotel is doing its utmost to comply with regulations, taxi operators stationed at the hotels should ensure they respect their own code of ethics.
“We want taxi operators to be part and parcel of the industry. Taxi operators today fall into a block where they are respected, and they should work with hotels for the benefit of the industry.”
Minister St.Ange appealed to taxi operators to open a dialogue with the general managers of the hotels where they are based.
“Hotels need you, because taxi operators are a reliable service for the establishments. Always keep an open dialogue with the general managers. The general managers are here to defend the interest of their company and to ensure a good taxi service is always available for their clients. Let us ensure taxis move together as one with the tourism industry for a win-win situation,” the Minister said.
Mr. Madeleine said he is pleased that the problem of taxi and car hires at the hotel is being solved.
He said code of ethics concerns, especially in regards to dress code, will be tackled by the association and assured those at the meeting that he will work to remedy the problem.
Mr. Madeleine also mentioned that the Avani Seychelles Barbarons Resort & Spa was not the only hotel in the country with the practice of using car hires for airport transfers and mis-using taxi bays was occuring.
Minister St.Ange re-assured the taxi association that his ministry is meeting the general managers of hotels on a one-to-one basis and that this subject would be tabled to ensure that this point of concern is solved.
At the Avani Seychelles Barbarons Resort meeting, Minister St.Ange also discussed the spirit of fairness by hotels when tendering out desks to car hire operators at hotels.
He said in an open market, a hotel should try to accommodate as much as possible – more than one desk to car hire operators – as this also provides choices to hotel guests.
Minister St.Ange said that in the spirit of transparency, there should be more than one car hire operators’ desk stationed at the hotel.
Minister St Ange said the Ministry of Tourism and Culture continues with its door-to-door visits, because it wants to work with hotels to achieve its set objectives and targets, as he also said that for the government, the buck stops at the desk of the resort’s general manager. “I appeal to the GM to ensure his hotel stops with immediate effect practices deemed to not be complying with our islands’ licensing regulations. Let a car hire be a car hire, and let a taxi operator do their work as taxis. Today, we are appealing to you, but please let us work together for Seychelles,” the Minister said.
Mr. Jha said being new in Seychelles, he was following the practices of his predecessors and colleagues in the industry. He welcomed the minister’s visit at Avani saying it is a positive move to bring the hotel another step ahead.
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