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Volume 7 No.  1 January - February 2016 Rs.  100/- Or US 3 5

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Glimpses not to be missed

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Seychelles cover story in global destination jan feb 2016

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Seychelles, Interview H.E. Alain St.Ange, Avani, Le Relax, Banyan Tree,

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Seychelles cover story in global destination jan feb 2016

  1. 1. Volume 7 No. 1 January - February 2016 Rs. 100/- Or US 3 5 if *—~ . f- | “ I‘- y ‘M 3,. . sir» i. A Guide to the world of Hospitality and Tourism Bintan Resorts ‘R Madhya Pradesh ‘ Corinthians Resort _ N‘ ' . _; . ,_ ~. ..- , _, .)cl‘. .i .5‘. ., M95.‘ Precio . .~~. _,. t.. ~
  2. 2. cover slorv Mesmerising Seychelles xi‘; - -7 Nature has been too ‘kind to Seychelles hich is blesed with some atiful beaces, rarest species of flora & fauna, a bird island and the unique Garden of Eden says Chandragupta Amritkar after his second visit to this wonderful country hen I first visited Seychelles on an invitation from s Juergen Thomas Steinmetz, Chairman ICTP and His Excellency, Alain St. Ange, Minister of Tourism and Culture, Republic of the Seychelles, I was thrilled. Having tra- versed across the globe, Seychelles had remained an elusive country and mostly unheard to the Indian community then. It was a wonderful experience. Three years later I again got an opportu- nity and I found it still is a paradise for nature lovers. This time I flew Air Seychelles which has made travel to Sey- chelles very convenient for us Indians with direct flights. The air- line has 4 weekly flights from Mumbai to Mahe Island and the best part is that the flights leave from Mumbai early morning and from Mahe in the night thus giving the tourist full day to enjoy - both on arrival and departure days. Delna Shroff, Regional Manager, GSA — Jet Air Pvt. Ltd and Harshvardhan Trivedi, Sales Officer Jet Air Pvt Ltd — GSA Air Seychelles were kind enough to co-ordinate for my fight tickets. Having experienced business class on most airlines across the globe, Air Seychelles also flew me business class. Their business class seats are most comfortable. Being a vegetarian I was served an excellent meal aboard. The airport is so close to sea that you can sense it as your flight lands. I was informed a part of it is on reclaimed land. For tourists who don’t have hotel vehicles to pick up, there are frequent bus services to the main bus station in Victoria and taxis outside the terminal to all locations across Mahe Island. The amount sur- prised me — its just SCR 5 (ie, Rs.25/—) for travel by public trans- port to any destination across the island. Global Destinations The Seychelles archipelago comprises 115 islands with a total landmass of 450 sq. km. situated within an economic zone of 1, 400,00 sq. km. 41 of these islands represent the most ancient mid- oceanic granitic islands on earth While 74 are low-lying coral atolls and reef islands. There are three main islands where visitors can stay — Mahe, La Digue and Praslin. This trip I decided to experience three hotels. The first was AVANI Seychelles, a wonderful property located right on the beach — hop skip and jump and you are in the sea. It was Manish Jha who was the GM at that time (now GM, Anantara Hua Hin, Bangkok) invited me. Co—ordinating with Dhanushika Ari- yaratne, PR, AVANI Seychelles arranged for my pick up from the airport. It was a nice 30 minute scenic ride through the moun- tains. Jan — Feb 2016
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  4. 4. Arriving in the moming I had to wait for some time as my room was getting ready. The lobby is quite spacious and spread out. It expands into a small open library, a business center with two computers, a bar and a restaurant stretching into the hotels own private beach. My room was quite spacious. The hotel buildings are no more than 2 stories in height and all rooms are either pool, garden or beach facing. The pool is perfect and quite tempting. I was surprised to see the mini—bar in the rooms empty but was informed that they are replenishment as per the guest require- ment. There are two restaurants — the Elements that serve all day buf- fet. The breakfast spread was decent with a nice bakery spread and some hot dishes. On the other hand Tamarind a beachside restaurant serves authentic Pan Asian food well known on the island for its Thai food. Chef Arun Rajput prepared some nice Indian vegetarian dishes including Aloo Jeera, Vilayati Kadai vegetable, Dal tadka with some rice and Indian rotis. “We do have some good Indian food. There are three main mar- kets for us — French, Indian and Chinese. We are looking to tap the Indian wedding market in a big way. For our guests we also provide some exciting excursions around the island, ” said Thomas Barguil, GM, AVANI. In the evenings sitting on the lazy chairs facing the beach Vinay Patel, Bar Manager prepared some exotic mocktails for me along with some tasty nuts as I watched the sunset. The hotel also has 500 square meters of conference space for corporate and social functions. Banyan Tree l Global Destinations Le Relax Hotel My next halt was Le Relax Hotel & Restaurant. As we approached the property I was pretty impressed — located on a hillside overlooking the bay of Anse Royale it is just a few min- utes walk from beach. Coincidently Rakesh Rai, Group Financial Controller was at the hotel while I was checking in. He told me about the group. He introduced me to the manager Umang Raj who took me around the property. The hotel has just 15 rooms — 10 Sea facing deluxe rooms, 4 standard rooms with mountain view and 1 day room. The deluxe rooms have one interconnected room with king size master bedroom with en-suite bathroom making it ideal for family. The swimming pool is located adjacent to the restaurant from where you get an excellent view of the ocean. The restaurant which serves local, continental and Indian food was the highlight. I had some nice Indian food including a bhel and samosas. You can also rent a car during your stay. This hotel is great value for money — not a very big place but with a picturesque sea view. From Le Relax I moved to the luxurious Banyan Tree Sey- chelles Resort. My dear friend Manas Sinha, Director, Key Accounts, Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts, India who was always keen that I cover his resorts and promote them connected me to Mourad Essafi, DoSM, Banyan Tree Seychelles. And what a resort it is. Entering into Banyan Tree you get the sense of how green the resort is. Taking their sweet time for check-in (surprisingly as my time of arrival was well noted), I was allotted an ultra luxury Two—Bedroom Double Pool Villa spread across 826 sq mts with two private pools, two al fresco dining areas, two master bedrooms and a private jetpool. Fact Sheet - A visa on arrival is issued free of charge for any nationality and there is no need for any official invitation to visit Seychelles. - The currency of the Seychelles is the rupee (SCR) — 1 USD = 13 SCR or ISCR = Rs.5/—. - Seychelles has many hotels (can be an expensive place). Ideal options would be — Banyan Tree, Avani Resorts and Le Relax Hotels. Le Relax Hotels has the uniqueness of having hotels on all three islands and pro- vide island hopping tours. Jan — Feb 2016
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  6. 6. "We have the perfect island hopping facility to explore Mahe, Praslin and La Digue" Pravin Darad, MD, Seychelles consortium of the Kurjibhai Ramji Group of Companies that are well known in Seychelles as Allied Builders for Construction, Real Estates and Property Development but have in recent past created a niche for themselves in Hospitali- ty and Tourism section through Le Relax Hotels Man- , agement Limited. They currently operate hotels in . ’ Mahe, Praslin and La Digue. Pravin Darad not only heads numerous associations but is also involved in var- ious social activities. In an exclusive interview with , Global Destinations Pravin Darad highlights the suc— ll cess of their hospitality segment Pravin rd with familyirelaxing at Le Re| aLuxury Lodge , La Digue What’s so unique about Le Relax Hotels chain? Loved the Indian cuisine at your resort We are one Of llle largest ll°lel Cllallls lll Seychelles and llle Yes that’s a major attraction for Indians to stay with us. In addi- only one to have hotels in all three major islands Mahe, Praslin tron to our Creole Legacy, all the Le Relax Restaurants offer the diversity of Indian cuisine. Said that we get a lot of localities to come and experience/ relish Indian cuisine. . Even our International guests love it as our chefs tune the spiciness to suit individual palate. I r ‘/ , Being a prominent Indian I am sure you must be ‘. promoting Indian culture? . Yes in a big way. I am the current Chairman of Hindu Council of Seychelles which has brought to Seychelles the '1 Indian Culture as also the Indian Heritage and celebrates '_ all the Major Hindu Festivals like Diwali, Durga Puja, Holi, Janmashtami, Ganesh Chaturthi, Rakshabandhan etc. The annual Diwali Celebrations has become the talk of the town and it has now become one of the great crowd Le Relax Hrel is V . f ~. 7 , __ gathering celebrations and it is appreciated by one and all and La Digue. We are also the first and only SS—ISO 9001-2008 certified tourism establishment in Seychelles with its affiliation to Green Globe 21 and The Intemation- al Eco Tourism Society. Our chain is also a member of the “Seychelles Secret” Portfolio founded by the Seychelles Tourism Board (STB). This testifies to the quality of our products and services that we offer at all times. Heard a lot about your island hopping facility. Can you enlighten our readers? We have the perfect island hopping facility to explore Mahe, Praslin and La Digue, all within the Le Relax brand. Our Seychelles island-hopping itineraries include full board accommodation (excluding drinks), car hire (Mahe & Praslin) and bicycles (La Digue), inter-boat I , transfers between Mahe and Praslin and La Digue. So at ‘(x ‘ l l l " ‘-T‘ I . - one Pllce you gel to See Seychelles‘ All llleal Package Wlll including Seyhellois and oter nationas. Iam also the Secretary be for 6 Nights - 2 nights in Mahe, 2 nights in Praslin and 2 nights of Iud0_Seyehe11es Forum for Commerce & Industry which is a lll La Dlgue' Fol 3 cellalll Category Of guests We have lllvesled lll platform to help and look into the problems of the Indian business new facilities such as the Self Catering Apartments and Guest Community in seyeheues House in La Digue. Global Destinations Jan — Feb 2016
  7. 7. . I _ the seych}/ zlles Islands another world
  8. 8. L’ l-Illfll-ll‘ -'iIIlr"’l The resort has 60 Creole-style villas with colonial French , and English designs crafted with high, sloping ceilings, airy verandas. The villas - are scattered across the resort jungle — each villa having a private pool (though the main swimming pool is extremely beau- tiful). The villas are of six types - Ocean View Pool Villa; Inten- dance Bay View Pool Villa; Beachfront Pool Villa; Sanctuary Ocean View Pool Villa; Two—Bedroom Double Pool Villa and Royal Banyan Ocean View Pool Villa. Apart from my villa I liked the Sanctuary Ocean View Pool Vil- las as well as intendance pool villas (located on a rocky projec- tion offering spectacular views) which reminded me of Tamara resort Coorg, India as the buggy took me though curved Walk- ways upwards. As soon as I entered the villa the infinity pool overlooking the ocean and forest caught my attention. Unfortu- nately some of the hillside villas don’t have good views so do insist on a villa with a view. The resort has quite a few dinning options. The Au Jardin d’Epices which provides Ocean View is an all day dinning restau- rant. The breakfast buffet always has an Indian dish —enjoyed the poori bhaji. The Chez Lamar restaurant was under renovation when I stayed. On one of the evenings I had an In-Villa Dining ll dinner experience right from a tomato soup to desert. The chef was kind enough to serve me all Indian vegetarian dishes. Mourad Essafi organized for a spa experience. Banyan Tree resorts are well known for their spas (had a wonderful experience at Banyan Tree, Bintan resorts) and this was equally good — relax- ing and refreshing. After enjoying for 6 days - some of the world’s most beautiful hotel beaches + some spectacular Views from hotel rooms it was time to head back to India. At the airport experienced the Seychelles airport lounge which is nice and cozy. I caught up with Carlos Antunes, GM, Sales & Distribution, Air Seychelles who is very bullish on the Indian market and sees huge potential if promoted properly. My return flight was good and comfortable. Landing early in the morning I felt relaxed and enriched. T f Playing a big role in facilitating travel from India to Seychelles, ' Air Seychelles has picked up well as Indians find the four and a half hour non—stop flight from Mumbai to Mahe ideal with no has- sles of a stop over and then boarding another flight. In an exclu— l I sive interview with Global Destinations, Air Seychelles, CEO . ~_‘ g " _ , .,- r‘, :‘("r} l Roy Kinnear spoke about his plans for the Indian market. Excerpts It was great news for travel agents when you recently brought down the fares by 30°/ o? Yes it was a strategic move. Many felt that the airfare was sub— K , stantially high. So, we brought it down from Rs. 50,000/— plus to Rs.33,000/— all inclusive return fare. We have also increased from -I _' '_’7.-Ti‘/ ‘‘ three flights a week from Mumbai to four flights. Also with the - bilateral agreement signed between India and Seychelles we can increase from the current four per week to seven. With this and fare reduction we hope to see a substantial increase in the flow of tourists. What are your plans to increase the footfall? For us India is a key strategic partner. The first step would be to increase market awareness. Through our local GSA we plan to hold workshops with tour operators and travel associations. Many people are already utilizing our excellent connectivity from Mumbai to Mauritius, Madagascar, Tanzania, and Johannesburg. We want passengers to take a break for a couple of days to enjoy the beauty of Seychelles. We look forward to support from friends like you from the media to promote our plans. what about MICE? That's a potential market. We in co—ordination with STB and hotel industry will certainly look at tapping the corpo- rate. Also I believe weddings will be a big market from India. Any plans to start flights from other cities? Not yet. We plan to consolidate on Mumbai. We have a code share relationship with Jet Airways — currently from nine domestic points. This enables passengers from most parts of India to smoothly connect to our airline. Global Destinations Jan — Feb 2016 l “I.
  9. 9. an. ‘ I /2 l 'rw. lcrclzixhotclcom I ' fl / r / -a ' / ca .2, . ' .9 2,). /., ,. "3 9,59 23 "0/l» CM» -1’? a~~; " jyegcée/ /es cflzi/ ancfcjé/0/J/ yin? lo fwa/ Le, pra: i in g)c>[a:2§igue f not 4'. /e. /z. ..z/ ./. /ae. .l. ... ... .., , ll/ L./ ... 4 I ~: :§ . Z; l J ”l~fi"l~ Tl ~*-Ts? ‘ ‘rim-, l «I strata / .: .=. :.; -.. , _ , . ,x 3 V 2) I :53; 4.. ls. ../ , / <2.. ... ,l, /.2.. . ’ V- l ' ‘X I ’ A _. , Siege/ Le/ /est - Welcome to fulfill dream to lifetime holiday on a paradise with Le Relax Hotels Island Hopping; Mahe-Praslin-La Digue. To enlighten your stay in romantic view offers lighthearted relaxing tropical days soften into intoxicating nights packed with pleasure. The dreamlike sunset and always be at ease on soft white sand beneath your toes and hear to the whisper of the ocean lapping the shoreline just a pebble’s throw away. We offer enriched stylish yet informal dining experience with stimulating blends of Creole as well as Intemational & Indian taste to suit your flavor and appetite. To cater to your demand with the flexibility to indulge your palate beyond the confines of a Restaurant Menu and served with Le Relax flair. The guest may opt for choice to dine in the privacy of his/ her own villa by ordering room service.
  10. 10. ”The average holiday maker who travels at the back of a plane in economy is as welcomed to Seychelles as are the famous personalities” One of the main reasons for the success of Seychelles as a tourist destination goes to His Excellency, Alain St. Ange, Minister of Tourism and Culture who has been promoting his country at numerous global events since 2009, when he was appointed as the Director of Marketing for Seychelles. Within a year he was promoted to the posi- tion of C. E.O of the Seychelles Tourism Board and seeing his success and passion in 2012 he became the Seychelles Minister for Tourism & Culture. The same year he was elected the first President of the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands Regional Organisation — that comprises of the islands of La Reunion, Madagascar, Mauritius, Comoros, Mayotte, Maldives and Seychelles. He was elected to the Board of the UNWTO Executive Coun- cil in 2013. To get an insight on the success story and his plans Chandragupta Amritkar spoke with His Excellency, Alain St. Ange. Excerpts Your Excellency, having known you for so many years what astonishes me even today is how you manage to make your presence felt at all major events across the globe. Where does such energy come from? You are too kind; I am just trying at all times to deliver for the tourism and culture industry of my country. This is my duty and one I enjoy doing. I work to deliver on my mandate as a Minister of the Government of Seychelles. To do it well, it has to be done with passion at all times, and I can say it myself that I manage the Ministry of Tourism and Culture that I head with a lot of total pas- sion. It is this passion that stimulates me to recognize those who are working alongside me, or those who have worked before me to get Seychelles where it is today. This recognition is always sensitive because it concentrates on the man and women from the private sector and not on past politicians. This is all part and par- cel of my passion for my country and, my country must include those who made my country what it is today. Seychelles is surrounded by quite a few well known tourist destinations like Mauritius. How do you compete with these countries and bring in more awareness about Seychelles globally? We are not in competition with the likes of Mauritius. Actual- ly we complement each other. We are all in the same region and our duty and responsibility as islands of this region is to work together to grow our tourism cake. This will ensure that we all benefit in return from the growth when our region becomes Global Destinations known and respected as the new tourism region of the world. On the ques- tion of awareness we all work differently. Sey- chelles is known as being press friendly and this I use a lot because Sey- chelles has nothing to hide, and Seychelles always prides itself that it has no NO GO areas for visiting press. What you see in Seychelles is what we are. So the rule of thumb is set our press free and let them become our Ambassadors, because after a visit to Seychelles every press member will be over impressed by what Seychelles has to offer, and for the world to hear it straight form the horses mouth, from a member of the press themselves is the best visibility we can ever hope for. HE Alain St. Ange, the Seychelles Minis- ter responsible for Tourism and Culture delivering his address at the plenary session of the 21st General Assembly of the UNWTO. You created a dedicated park at the Seychelles Tourism Academy with a view to honour pioneers of the Seychelles tourism industry. How did the idea germinate? This is a project very dear to members of the tourism industry. They have spoken about this for a long time. It is important to realize that tourism is the pillar of the Seychelles economy and tourism entrepreneurs and professionals are the main catalysts for our islands good economic results. But doing something is always a challenge whereas critics are easily made. A glass half full of water will be seen by many a glass that is half empty, whereas I see the same glass as being half full. But for me at the Ministry of Tourism and Culture and for Sherin Naiken at the Tourism Board we are convinced that through the concept of recognition we are doing justice to the industry that is our bread and butter. The beauty of the tourism pioneer park is we can always add on names of those who should be recognized. This is why I appealed to people of Seychelles to send in names of those pioneers whom we may have missed out. This is an opportunity for everyone to be positive for a cause. This year’s Grand Seychelles Tourism Ball was well attend- ed. What were the key takeaways? Jan — Feb 2016 l)
  11. 11. . ‘ ‘ , . 0 '‘. lt‘l"€lZlXll0l€l. C0lll if ‘ ii fl ’. /T’ F’ I‘ / T -/ /T </ ‘/5 HO/ flir (firrlufifizlliz/ z¢t‘l/ H g . . ‘. ./ IL/ ‘./ Q// . . /' t/ l.. / Szycée/ /ea cfld/ arzcla/42/olo/ ping lo Q4451/ze, pra5 in Cg')o[a. :bl9ae . —_ M . .i: '%*x_-. '-'? i< ‘ '. jLd. .:: :.. .+. _. . ‘_: .."'/ . 4 far .1;/3.. /.. ..z; ... .le. .., ..l. p.. ..l-. . we: .12. _ 1/. .l. ./as ll/ ../ ... 4. "m , V l I . ; j) l -{g_; , ' . j . . , . We care our guest to enjoy ”Island hopping package” with below services: 0 Accommodation in Deluxe Rooms at Le Relax Hotel and restaurant, Mahe, Standard room in Le Relax Beach Resort, Praslin, & Deluxe Rooms at Le Relax Beach House in La Digue. 0 Meals are indicated in the package. 0 Package includes Transfer from ]etty/ Hotel or Airport / Hotel on Mahe, Praslin and La Digue. 0 Inter-Island boat transfers between Mahe, Praslin & La Digue. 0 Enjoy Car Hire on Mahe, Praslin and Bicycle in La Digue. 0 Minimum stay for La Digue 8: Mahé will be 02 days, (stay on Mahe & Praslin can be changed as per the preference and timings of retum flight). Each of the rooms is furnished as below: Other Facilities and Services: 0 En suite bathroom with shower 0 Swimming Pool — beach towels, sun beds and umbrellas 0 Air Condition and Ceiling Fan 0 Indian, Local Creole and Intemational Cuisine 0 Cable Satellite TV with local channels, in-house movies 0 Pool Bar and sports - Wifi Broadband intemet access (chargeable) 0 Intemational Direct Dialing Telephone 0 Car Hire ( Mahe & Praslin)/ Bicycle Hire (La Digue) 0 Digital Security Safe 0 Free Parking 0 Self-Service Tea/ Coffee making facilities (chargeable) 0 Mail and postal facilities 0 Mini Bar (replenish upon request) 0 Laundry and Pressing Service 0 In- room Dining (subject to room service charge) 0 24 hrs Security with CCTV Camera 0 Baby Cots (on request) 0 Baby-sitting and medical assistance available on request 0 Hair Dryer and Shaver socket 0 Electric voltage 220-240 volts Mahe Praslin Praslin La Digue La Digue La Digue I-9 Relax HOW 3! Restauflflt Le Relax Beach Resort Le Relax st‘ 1°59” Le Relax Beach House I-6 Relax 59" C3*€| 'i"9 Le Relax Luxury Lodge Emallzhelpdeskalerelaxholelrom Emall: beachlesort@lerelaxhoteltom Guesthouse Apartment E _H ' al I h ‘ R0’ Box 215 R0. Box 4060' Ema: l:guesthouse@lerelaxhotelrom Emal| :bA2actlhl; (usenlgrelaxhotetcom Emaijzselfmeringsfilyelaxhmelgcom "'3' - "WW °d99k 9"? 3* 0‘? 10'" Ange R0 al Mahe Grand AHSE, Praslin, Stijoseph Estate nse eumqm Anse Reunion: Anse Gauletta Se cllelles ' Seychelles, Gm" "”‘°' °'°"' R°". ‘a" C“"‘°"‘Ch"""' La Digue. Seychelles) 13 °‘9"ev 59V‘“9"95: Telwzlgs 4382500 Te| ,+248 4294646 Praslin | Seychelles. l§rl3|'9l2l:35:’2)’§: :;'§5' Te| :+248 4234011 T€| I+243 4234343 ' ' 2+ . Fax: +248 4371900 Fax= +248 4233050 FEM48 4234434 FaX3+248 4234434 F"“*2"8 4234342 I »‘ / Hp! ‘/I. 1:1¢: urIr1(’: rl1:1. 1/ug
  12. 12. World Tourism Day is celebrated every year in Seychelles with a Tourism Ball. This is when public and private sector meet and socialize instead of always meeting in the office. This year we saw yet again committed tourism trade members come out in great numbers, but as important was the long list of the business community who are partners of the tourism industry make the effort to be seen and counted as being friends of the tourism industry. This social evening is one of the most important one of our calendar of events and we know our friends by looking at the list of those who come out to be seen and counted. What infrastructure segments do you think currently need upgrading to enhance the tourism sector’s potential? The Seychelles Brand of Tourism is the country as a whole. For too long many believed that the Seychelles Brand of Tourism was the hotel and this was so far from the truth. Our airport, our arrival formalities, out welcome, our taxis and car hires, our roads, our parks and gardens, our capital city, our inter island links etc are all as important as our white sandy beaches and warm turquoise blue seas. We need everyone to be aware of this as well as the drive by our tourism industry for our culture to be recognizes as the key unique selling point for Seychelles. When we talk about our culture we are of course placing our people at the centre of our development. What about sustainability? What steps do you plan to take to reduce impact on nature due to increased tourism? In Seychelles what you see today will be seen tomor- row, in ten years and even longer. We are set to be good custodians of what we have been blessed with. This is a I Govemment undertaking to its people. Managing the growth of our tourism industry as we preserve what We have is navigating a fine line which is why we have today imposed a moratorium on the construction of large hotels. This is to give us time to complete a detailed carrying capacity for our islands as the Ministry responsible for lands and planning looks at the islands land use plan. We have launched our very own Sustainable Label for our tourism establishments to encourage hotels owners who believe in a long term involvement in the tourism indus- ' try of Seychelles to embrace sustainable practices. Sey- ‘ chelles it must be noted has been at the forefront of such an inspiration even before the buzz word of eco—tourism Global Destinations and sustainable development became in vogue. We did it from day one of our tourism industry because we believed in it. But sustainable tourism is more than just our environment it is also our people and their involvement in the development of our industry and also our culture that must be seen and respected. How do you plan to help local communities through tourism? Seychelles Tourism is for Seychelles and for its people first and foremost. This is why we said publicly Seychelles should claim back its tourism industry. Tourism cannot be just for big business- es, it must be all inclusive in nature where the local communities and our people see themselves as active partners. We joined the East3Route program with South Africa KwaZulu Natal, the King- dom of Swaziland and Mozambique because this body has as its aim grass route tourism. Now we moved further through cultural tourism development with an inter district competition for Cultur- al Awards. This is to get our regional communities involved in showcasing culture and their own points of interests to our visi- tors. This is also a sure way to get tourists out of their hotels and taste Seychelles and its authentic culture. How do you plan to attract investors into Seychelles tourism sector? Seychelles offer to the business world one guarantee few other countries can offer. This is safety and a place to work that is as close to paradise as possible. Seychelles is disease free, it requires NO VISA for anyone, it has an impeccable safety label, it has a weather pattern that has given it the name of the land of perpetu- al summer and Seychelles is at the cross roads between East and West and the hub for South — South cooperation. We just need to spell all these points to the world at large and the business com- munity will continue to look at Seychelles as the country for a solid investment. Above all in Seychelles your investment is respected and you will always be able to repatriate your profit when and as you decide. Coming to India specific, its great news that Air Seychelles has reduced the airfare between Mumbai and Seychelles. How do you see this impacting tourism? We listened to the Indian Tour Operators and Travel Agents and ur / I Jan — Feb 2016
  13. 13. this was a request they made to us. Today we can see a wave of renewed interest for the islands ever since the airfare between Seychelles and Mumbai has been reduced. India is price sensitive and we remain guided by our partners in the trade in India. Sey- chelles with its four hours flying time from India is the ideal new tourism destination for Indian Holidaymakers. This we know will work and we are excited by this opportunity to see two countries Q . — 1: I ; . H. E. Alain St. Ange at Bird Island Seychelles of the Indian Ocean get even closer that they are in people to peo- ple contact through tourism. Apart from leisure travel what is the potential for Indian Honeymooners and Seychelles as a wedding destination? Destinations for honeymoons are chosen because they are dif- ferent and are known to offer an experience that will be as close to paradise for the newly weds. Seychelles has been top of that list of destinations for years and we continue to pride ourselves that we are the best of the best in that special holiday break. Pris- tine environment, clean and secure is what Seychelles is and what it offers. If Seychelles is good for Prince William and Kate Mid- dleton of the UK for their honeymoon, it must be good for our chosen bride as our life partner. This is why many many celebri- ties choose Seychelles for their honeymoon and where discretion and privacy will always be assured. I missed attending the Seychelles-India Day Celebrations as I had already scheduled visits to Taiwan and Bintan Resorts during that time. But how did the event go and any significant achievements? Celebrating our historical links gave Seychelles a Seychelles- India Day Celebrations because India is one of the five branches that make us, the Seychellois Creole people - the special people we are today. This year’s event was a total success and attended by Dr Mahesh Sharrna, the Indian Minister of State for Tourism, Culture and Civil Aviation. We also received A. R. Rahman, the music icon of India and he was here to receive his accreditation as the Cultural Ambassador of Seychelles in India. This event has managed to solidify the unity between our Seychellois with Indi- an origin and this is seen as a positive step forward in creating long term stability and togetherness in Seychelles. What are some of the misperceptions of Seychelles that you’re trying to change in the Indian mindset? cover slnrv Seychelles suffers for the perception that it is only a tourism destination for the people's of the world — only for the rich and famous. Yes the islands welcome many many of these stars, celebrities, Royalties, Presidents and Prime Ministers but Sey- chelles also welcomes the person looking for a holiday of the life- time. The average holiday maker who travels at the back of a plane in economy is as welcomed to Seychelles as are the famous personalities. Both groups are welcomed with open arms and both groups can enjoy the Seychelles magic, What awards and accolades has the country won in last couple of years? Seychelles continues to win accolades and awards. These often reflect our natural beauty such as Best Beaches, but we often also win Best Resort, Best Spa or Best One-Island-One-Hotel Resort. This year for the 2015 World Travel Awards, Seychelles pulled the Award for the Indian Ocean Leading Destination and also the Indian Ocean Leading Cruise Destination. It was also the Sey- chelles Tourism Board that won the Best Tourism Board for 2015. What is the present tourism scenario? Seychelles is proud of its achievements in the field of tourism. Today we are cruising with a 20% increase in visitor arrival num- bers over 2014. A hotel group in Seychelles such as Hilton Hotels with three hotels has confirmed that 2015 has been their best year ever in hotel occupancy and in yield. These figures are clear demonstrations that we are working as a tourism destination and that our public — private sector partnership in place is paying div- idend. Our private sector trade remain our key partners and we value their commitment to the industry. What new initiatives have you planned for 2016 and say next five years? Seychelles needs to consolidate its achievements. This is very important for our islands because we depend on tourism, the industry that has become the pillar of our economy. The party to consolidation will also relook at our service delivery, value for money of a Seychelles holiday as well as how we are seen by vis- itors. We shall be embarking on a revisited Tourism Master Plan to ensure it is reflecting the Seychelles of today. This will mean a self assessment of what we are and also of what we do. Jan - Feb 20I6 Global Destinations
  14. 14. Glimpses not to be missed Victoria Victoria the capital city of the Seychelles is named after Queen Victoria and the smallest African capital. It is an haven for people who reside in cities like Mumbai, Delhi, New York, London etc. as one can move around the city leisurely not feeling the bustle noticed in most cities. There is noticeable traffic in the mornings and evenings but hardly an issue. Although this is the capital city there’s only one traffic light. For those who don’t want to go in a vehicle can literally walk around the city and cover its many attractions such as the Botan- ical Gardens and the Markets (the only bustling place in the cap- ital). The Botanical Gardens were established in 1901 and it cov- ers around six hectares with almost 500 different plants. At the centre of the Capital is the clock tower can be seen. Often described as a mini-Big Ben the tower was in fact a replica of the clock erected in London in 1897 at the junction of Victoria Street and Vauxhall Bridge Road. Praslin Island Praslin Island, the second-largest island in the Seychelles is famous for Vallée de Mai a UNESCO World Heritage site where the famous Coco de Mer nut grows. From Mahe we took a ferry over to Praslin which takes approximately an hour. Here I would advise you that the sea can be pretty rough and if you are on the deck you can get wet. Do be careful with your cameras which can also get wet. One can also take a short flight of 15 minutes by Air Seychelles. On reaching the port you can hire a taxi to the Vallee de Mai or the more adventurous type can opt for the cycle. Vallée de Mai is Global Destinations one of only two places in the world where you can see the rare coco de mer palms growing in their natural state (the other being nearby Curieuse Island). The Coco—de—mer is 40 metres tall and around 200 years old. General Gordon of Khartoum was con- vinced that this was the site of the original “Garden of Eden”. This hauntingly beautiful primeval forest is home to some 6000 Coco—de—mer trees, considered to be among the botanical won- ders of the world. The nut of the Coco de Mer is very large (the largest seed in the plant kingdom) ; the leaves growing up to 6 m wide and 14 m long and is oddly shaped, being the shape and size of a woman's disembodied buttocks on one side, and a woman's belly and thighs on the other side. The nature and origin of this extraordi- nary nut was mysterious, and the propagation of the tree was not understood. The Coco de Mer palm has separate male and female trees, unlike the coconut palm. The male catkins can reach 1 metre in length, making them the longest in the world. The seeds can weigh as much as 30 kg. Entrance to Vallée de Mai is €15 per person and payable only with cash. La Digue In the afternoon I visited La Digue the third largest inhabited island of the Seychelles. It can be reached in 2 hours from Mahe . «,. ,~ , ,. or in just 30 minutes from Praslin. We were informed that there are hardly a dozen cars on the island and the primary mode of transportation is the bicycle. Today, the island's main industry is tourism and it is known for its beaches, especially Anse Source d'Argent and Grand Anse. La Digue's tallest peak, Belle Vue (Eagle's Nest Mountain), is also in the central part of the island, with a summit more than 300 metres (1000 feet) above sea level. The Lady of our Assumption Church is 100 years old. Aldabra Aldabra is the world's largest coral reef and listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. Here one can see the giant land tortois- es. Two hours by boat from Mahe, Cousin Island is a nature reserve which is managed by the International Council for Bird Protection. The best time to visit is April or May, when approxi- mately 1.25 million birds nest on the island. Jan — Feb 2016
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