Key Note Address on the Seychelles Brand, Thursday 26th August 2010

26 August 2010 | Tourism

President James Michel
Key Note Address on the " Seychelles Brand "
Domaine de Val des Pres
Thursday 26th August, 2010

Ladies and gentlemen,

Great success stories stem from the passion to make dreams come true. If we have gathered   This time we are looking at a sector where extraordinary opportunities abound. And that is in our tourism industry, the lifeline of our economy.  Today, I am indeed proud to address you, as Minister for Tourism.
When we say that we are a blessed nation, we need not go far to see proof. We are the custodians of the most beautiful islands in the world.  The peace-loving nation that we are and the warm hospitality that brand us have been the ingredients for success in the industry.  We are earning our rightful place as a world leader in tourism.  We are continuously ranked amongst the first in the eco-tourism initiatives, for our world-class hotels, our natural heritage and our marketing drives.  For many across the globe, Seychelles remains a dream destination.

Last year, when many of our neighbours experienced the wrath of the global recession, we managed to maintain our arrival figures with the support of the "Affordable Seychelles" campaign.

And this year, we have seen an increase of 12% in visitor arrivals, compared to last year, and an increase of some 6% over the arrivals for 2008, which was a record year. Seychelles has had the best May, June and July, in terms of visitor arrivals ever recorded.These figures indicate that we have the ability to be more competitive and attractive for visitors all over the world.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The new Seychelles is about transformation.  It is about positive changes.  Where we find deficiencies, we fix the problem, and where things are running well, we strive to do better.  In the face of stiff competition, we have to innovate. And this innovation will take form as the Seychelles Brand. 

What is the Seychelles Brand?

It is a whole new approach.  We can no longer go out there in the global village with only our sun, sea and sand tags.  The Seychelles brand goes beyond the physical beauty of our islands.  It is the long awaited and much talked about bridge that brings Seychellois social cohesion, arts, history and culture closer to other civilizations. 

The essence of the Seychelles Brand is our Seychellois identity, our charm and hospitality. It is the serenity and stability that we enjoy. It is an infusion of our marketing strategy and service delivery with the Creole spirit. Visitors to Seychelles can identify the distinct nature of Seychellois hospitality, our way of life and the unique beauty of our nature and the warmth of our people.

Above all, it is a new dynamism.  It encapsulates the spirit of Seychellois entrepreneurship in the industry.  It will reaffirm and open avenues for Seychellois ownership in tourism-related enterprises. I strongly believe in the ownership of this vital industry by the Seychellois. We have to continue to reinforce the structures and enhance the conditions to allow our people to become key stakeholders in the tourism industry.

The Seychelles Brand is everybody’s business.  It calls for a strong partnership across the board. In essence, we need to live the brand.
The Seychelles Tourism Board will collaborate with the Planning Authority and the Licensing Authority to manage our Unique Selling Points in future tourism planning and licensing of establishments.  The Seychelles Brand also means greater participation by Seychellois in our tourism industry. All Seychellois who wish to set up small guest houses, self-catering establishments or small hotels, will be encouraged to do so.

Those who are operating now without a license will be encouraged to become licensed and work with the STB to set up a recognised establishment, which can receive additional marketing support. Today, small hotels are grouped as the 'Seychelles Secrets'. That will continue, but they will need to be marketed strongly to ensure they get their fair share of visitor arrivals.

The Tourism Board will develop the Seychelles Brand by working, amongst others, on a new label that will be issued to establishments and services that provide service that we can all be proud of.

This label will be issued annually to establishments and services that guarantee 'Seychelles Tourism Assurance' for our country. Tourists will be recommended to use services and establishments which have this 'quality assurance' label. The system will ensure that tourism operators are rewarded for their quality services.

I have instructed the STB to develop the Seychelles Brand beyond the 'sun, sea and sand' experience. We have the potential to become an activity-based tourist destination, to enhance mountain-based activities, as well as historical and cultural sightseeing.

For this reason, an important site such as the Domaine de Val des Pres will come under STB management, in order to maximise its potential as a functional cultural village, where students from the Tourism Academy will also receive training and valuable first-hand experience.

We will streamline our policies in the management, conservation and promotion of our national heritage. Government has decided to set up a body that will provide for better networking amongst all agencies that have a stake in managing our historical, cultural and environmental sites. This body will ensure that there is harmony in common policies and standards, ensure better coordination and set best practices.

The extra step forward will encompass a new component that I believe will enrich our tourism portfolio, and that is domestic tourism.  We have the world’s most beautiful islands and the Seychelles Brand is our brand, so we need to ensure that we all have the opportunity to enjoy them as well.
Seychellois should discover and enjoy the islands and the national parks. The costs of travelling to different islands is one of the barriers we have, so we shall be reviewing the inter island access as well as the pricing policies.

Seychelles needs young people who are ready to take up a long term career in the hospitality industry after they qualify from the Tourism Academy. Training needs to be improved and we need to consider new hotel management training possibilities for our young Seychellois.

Our new branding exercise also needs to extend to the promotion of locally made products and services.  Seychelles needs to maximise the use of local produce. We shall boost our cottage industries with the support of the STB, SENPA, the Agricultural Agency and the Tourism Academy so that more people become suppliers for hotels. 

The Tourism Academy will teach new techniques to potential entrepreneurs, as we seek markets for our home-grown products to be proudly used in the hospitality industry.

We are taking initiatives to diversify our visitor sources, with promotion campaigns in Japan, China, South Korea, India, and the Middle East. This has been an important expansion of our potential for new markets. We are also negotiating with several airlines on the possibility of operating new air routes to Seychelles.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to thank all those who are working hard to make our tourism industry a vibrant and thriving sector. As we have said before, teamwork has been the key to our success, so let us continue on this path and reinforce our public and private sector partnership.

Our country needs everyone to defend, promote and to protect this vital economic activity and develop it so that all Seychellois have a stake in its future. We will only achieve this if we work together in peace and harmony.

Many of you here today have invested years of hard work in the industry.  Many are no longer with us but they have been part of many success stories and we have learnt many lessons from them.  I am reminded here, of Isaac Newton’s famous quote: we are standing on shoulders of giants”. Today we have come together to mark an important milestone in our tourism industry.  We are launching the Seychelles Brand.  This is possible because we are ready for yet greater achievements and we see more things in the distance. This is not because our sight is superior or because we are taller than those who were there before us, but because they raise us up. We thank all those who have helped shaped our tourism industry to the level that it is today.  The Seychelles brand will add a new dynamism to many great initiatives.

Today, I call upon you, in the industry, to engage with us to map out our national tourism development plan, an integrated plan to propel our country into the next phase of its development, a plan to maintain Seychelles as a world class leader in tourism. Let the Seychelles Brand infuse your thinking and enhance our product. Be innovative and forward-looking!

Finally, if tourism is an industry providing diversity in experiences, then let the Seychelles Brand stand be the soul of our tourism industry.  Let it be what makes us unique by a thousand miles - what makes us ANOTHER WORLD!

Thank you. I wish you all successful deliberations.

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