Freddy Karkaria, the Chairperson of the Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association (SHTA), and Alain St.Ange, the island’s Minister responsible for Tourism and Culture, were both on the island of Praslin last weekend visiting restaurants and accommodation establishments in what has been called the door-to-door visits of tourism establishments by the Tourism Minister and his senior officials from the Department of Tourism and their Tourism Board. Mr. Karkaria took the opportunity of this trip to discuss the successes and challenges of the cross-sectorial, high-level meeting they had themselves instigated through the Tourism Ministry. It was at the second such meeting that key government authorities and the Seychelles private sector met during the month of August at National House that saw Seychelles Vice President Danny Faure and no less than six government ministers meet with members of the Tourism Industry’s Association and the Seychelles Chamber of Commerce and Industries. Mr., Karkaria explained that these high-level meetings are needed because everyone in the country has the responsibility for the successes and for the shortfalls of the tourism industry, and, therefore, everyone needed to hear about the successes but also about the challenges the industry was facing.
At the early August meeting, members of the Seychelles’ tourism trade (SHTA) and Chamber of Commerce and Industries (SCCI), has once again met representatives of the government during the second cross-sectorial, high-level task force meeting aiming to pave the way forward in overcoming challenges the tourism industry faces.
The meeting had again taken place at the National House in Victoria and was chaired by Vice President Danny Faure. Representing the government at this meeting were Minister for Tourism and Culture Alain St.Ange; Minister for Labor and Human Resources Development Idith Alexander; Minister for Land Use and Housing Christian Lionnet; and the Environment and Energy Minister, Professor Rolph Payet, Minister for Finance Trade and Investment Pierre Laporte; and Home Affairs and Transport Minister Joel Morgan.
Representatives of authorities concerned gave an overview on the work progress made since the last cross-sectorial meeting.
The first was on the signboards at beaches which was taken up by transport principal secretary Patrick Andre. Mr. Andre said a survey was carried out after the first cross-sectorial meeting to identify the areas where there are signs indicating treacherous sea conditions, the maintenance of those signs, and areas where there is a need to put up new signs.
Mr. Andre said the idea was to establish a beach management control for safety aspects. Beaches will be categorized according to their level of danger, but he added that it is vital not to overload beaches with signs and not to send the wrong message to visitors.
Mr. Andre said there are 25 new signs expected to be erected by September.
On the issue of access to Anse Source d’Argent on La Digue, it was raised in the last meeting that visitors complain about the entrance fees that have to be paid for accessing the much-publicized and photogenic beach.
Much discussions were held on this issue, whereby the private sector trade firmly stated their position on this matter. Members of the trade argued that this being an icon used to sell Seychelles as a destination, there should not be a fee to be paid for visitors to access this beach. More consultation on this matter will be undertaken.
At that second meeting, the Commissioner of Police, Ernest Quatre, gave an overview of the role of beach police officers. He said beach guards will now become fully-pledged police officers, wearing regular police uniforms, and they will undergo extensive training starting in September for three months.
Principal Secretary for Health Peggy Vidot gave details on the state and improvement of the morgue at Seychelles Hospital as well as steps taken regarding carbon emission from passing vehicles to keep the interior of the Praslin hospital clean.
There were also issues raised in relation to public toilet facilities at various tourist spots and other key locations.
A detailed report on this was presented by the Principal Secretary for Project Planning and Implementation of the Ministry of Land Use and Housing, Yves Choppy.
A survey was carried out by a team from that ministry, whereby they assessed the availability of the facilities, the management, and constraints of the people managing these facilities. New areas for such facilities have also been located.
Other issues raised by members of the Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association (SHTA) during that meeting were taxation, which was taken up by Minister Laporte. Taxi rates and a proper code of conduct for taxi drivers were also among other points of discussions.
A report regarding discussions held between the Tourism Industry Association and Air Seychelles were also presented by the Chief Executive of the national airline, Manoj Papa. A third meeting is expected to be held in mid-September.