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Saint Ange Tourism Report #3

Welcome to Edition 3 of the Saint Ange Tourism Report from Seychelles. By Alain St.Ange.

Many thanks for all the feedback and good wishes. To the tourism trade and your staff members in Seychelles, I can only reinforce that we are and will remain together as partners in tourism. To the readers from the four corners of the world, I appreciate your continued interest and thank you for following my work. 

Environmental lobby groups have taken the time to speak up about the island of La Digue and the need to preserve it by making it an example of an eco-friendly island and a sustainably managed one. This is indeed an excellent project for the Seychelles Ministry of Environment to adopt. In the world of tourism, competition is getting tougher and sustainability is a word we need to embrace today as it will give Seychelles the edge it so needs.

On 29th June, Seychelles celebrated its Independence from Great Britain. Forty-one years have elapsed since the day we achieved our Independence in 1976. Seychelles then had a grand coalition between the two main political forces, however this marriage of convenience was to be short-lived; just before the first anniversary as an Independent State, a ‘coup d’etat‘ took place, consequently installing a new government.

Seychelles today has had four Presidents since our Independence namely: Sir James Richard Mancham (1976 – 1977), Mr. France Albert Rene (1977 – 2004), Mr. James Alix Michel (2004 – 2016) and since 2016, Mr. Danny Faure.

In the Third Republic, a shift in the political landscape has occurred and for the first time in the history of our country, the Executive and the majority of the Legislative branches of Government are two different political camps. However, it would appear that, despite all pretenses, Seychelles is today even more divided than ever. The islands have made progress in a lot of areas but a sad practice lingers which shows a lack of respect for citizens’ democratic rights, and this is the ‘with us or not with us’ strategy by politicians. This shows that the word ‘democracy’ today has been demeaned to mean compulsory adhesion to a political party forgetting the rights of people to simply be a Seychellois and to support who they want and when they want.

In discussions with the ordinary man and woman on the street during the Independence Anniversary celebrations, one can appreciate their sense of dejectedness in being able to say that politicians today from both sides of the camp are still not working to benefit the lives of the average Seychellois. The common view is that no one is working to truly look at issues which plague the average Seychellois family, such as the cost of basic necessities and essential facilities such as water and electricity.

Endless Motions and Committees are still not addressing what touches the ordinary man and woman in their daily life, but Seychelles can confirm it has managed with an Opposition Controlled National Assembly to have a One Country with two Pension Systems, one for the people with the official retirement age and one for a select few even though this was deemed illegal recently before the Courts (Ian Delorie v/s The Republic).

After 41 years since Independence the Government land issue in Seychelles is one area where progress is slowly being made in uncovering past abuses of power, but sadly here only a select group of people are being singled out instead of a wider call for all those in power, whichever side of the political camp they may fall, to declare their ownership of land which they acquired from the State, and to examine whether any rules and regulations were broken when they made their acquisition. However, as slowly as the Seychelles giant tortoise moves along, such irregularities will undoubtedly come out one by one. The ‘pandora’s box’ is now open.

Without further ado, here are some news snippets relating to Seychelles:

Reunion Island hosts second Humpback Whale World Congress

From the 3rd to 7th July, Reunion Island hosted the second Humpback Whale World Congress. This uniqueCongresss on a specific species (Humpback Whale) is chaired by the Region of Reunion under the leadership of Didier Robert, the President of the Reunion Region and Cetamada.

This Congress will also drive the “Chemin des Baleines” listed as a UNESCO World Heritage asset. This project has had the support of Reunion for four years already and has been pushed by President Didier Robert through the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands. It has also received the support of Taleb Rifai, the Secretary General of the UNWTO.

Reunion Island is one of the 34 hotspots on the annual route of Humpback Whales as they leave the Antarctic Ocean on their way to the warmer Indian Ocean, where they give birth to their calves. The first edition of this Congress was held in Madagascar and the Reunion edition held at Stella Matutina Museum at Saint Leu is chaired by Sebastien Folin.

Spanish football star Alvaro Morata on honeymoon in Seychelles

Seychelles remains the honeymoon destination for the Who’s Who in the world and this includes international football stars in search of the perfect holiday or honeymoon destination.

Alvaro Morata and wife Alice Campello flew to Seychelles after getting married in Venice, Italy. Morata, 24, is a striker for Spanish football club Real Madrid. UK sports media have been reporting that Manchester United is trying to have the Spanish striker transferred to Old Trafford. The speculations of his transfer to the English Premier League continues even as Morata is in Seychelles enjoying the turquoise blue seas and white sandy of the islands.

Seychelles, as a rule, respects the privacy of the many stars who holiday on its shore but Morata and his new bride Alice have been more than happy to share their snaps in paradise to the world via social media. The most famous of those who did spend their honeymoon in Seychelles was Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011.

UK Television Series to be filmed in Seychelles with Marc Wooton as lead actor

Marc Wooton, the lead actor in the new UK Television Series.

Seychelles is synonymous with beautiful islands and exotic scenery. The Seychelles Islands will once again be featured in an upcoming international television series. A UK-based production house – Baby Cow Productions — has identified some of the islands’ uncrowded and idyllic beaches as the perfect setting for the latest edition of its TV series — High and Dry. Rich in wild nature, the beaches’ backdrop will provide the perfect location for their plot — a plane crash survival on a deserted island — to unfold.

The Seychelles Tourism Board is fully supporting the production with the help of other relevant authorities, considering this will be a huge plus for the country and for its tourism industry.

Announcing the new project, the Chief Executive of the Seychelles Tourism Board, Mrs. Sherin Francis, revealed that up to now Baby Cow had been selecting possible locations in Asia for such productions and that the Philippines was originally the preferred location for the shooting that will now be done in Seychelles.

“Thanks to the good relations we have with the production company and a few others in the UK we managed to convince them to choose Seychelles for once and see how it goes and we are happy that they finally agreed to film the series in the Seychelles,” said Mrs. Francis. It was Sofia and Alex Panagiotaki who sealed the deal for Seychelles to be the filming location. Sofia Panagiotaki was the MC for an edition of the Carnaval International de Victoria and fell in love with the country.

The filming is expected to last four weeks from July 9th to August 4th, 2017. The crew will be shooting scenes at some of the well-known beaches on the Seychelles’ main island, Mahé, namely Anse-Major, Anse du Riz, and the Barbarons beach. Anse Major, which borders the Morne Seychellois reserve in the northwest of Mahé is accessible by boat or a hike by foot, offering gorgeous coastal views which are popular among both the locals and tourists. This is also where key scenes will be filmed mostly during the weekdays.

As the scenario involves a plane crash on a deserted island, Mrs. Francis is calling on the cooperation of all stakeholders, namely the general public, boat owners and other tourism operators during the filming period. “We are aware that a lot of the beaches especially Anse Major are habitually visited by our locals and visitors, reason why filming will take place on one beach at a time. We cannot restrict access to the beaches but we are simply asking for the cooperation of the general public and tour operators bringing clients to these beaches. For example, at Anse Major, you have two stretches of beaches and only one of them will be used for the production at any given time so that the other one can be available to visitors,” said Mrs Francis.

British comedian Marc Wootton will be the lead actor in the series. The total budget for the filming of the series in Seychelles is around £1.7 million. Baby Cow Productions is financing the entire cost of the production. Marc Wootton is an English character comedian. He is perhaps best known for his role as the fake medium and psychic, Shirley Ghostman, on the BBC Three series, High Spirits with Shirley Ghostman and La La Land.

The Seychelles Tourism Board has assisted mainly in getting them the necessary authorizations. Several local companies including small contractors, boat companies, and even a local production house are expected to benefit through the production. Once the series starts airing on Channel 4 in the UK, although it will not be directly mentioning Seychelles, the fact that the beautiful beaches, clear turquoise waters and lush tropical vegetation will be featured this will help to push Seychelles into the UK limelight, which is a market that has been seeing remarkable increase in visitor arrivals to Seychelles over the last two years.

“With our current budget it would have been impossible to acquire such immense publicity for the Seychelles,” said Mrs. Francis, adding that STB is also bringing a PR company onboard to feature a “Behind the Scenes” documentary about the filming. It is customary for viewers of such TV series to be given the chance to follow what went on behind the making of the production, which is an aspect that one rarely gets to see. This also helps to create a forum for viewers to engage and discuss the series and also the location.

It’s interesting to note that Baby Cow Productions established in 1999, is an award-winning production house in the UK with a reputation for producing some much-loved comedy series. Aside from High and Dry, some of its other productions include Hunderby, Hebburn, The Trip, Gavin & Stacey to name but a few.

Doubletree Hilton Seychelles appoints its first Seychellois Resort Manager

Doreen D’Souza has become the first Seychellois to be appointed as resort manager of DoubleTree by Hilton Seychelles – Allamanda Resort & Spa.

Doreen D’Souza Doubletree by Hilton Seychelles resort manager.

“I am honored to be entrusted with the position of resort manager at DoubleTree Allamanda, and will ensure that it remains the most hospitable and welcoming resort in the South of Mahe,” said D’Souza. “I am grateful to the Hilton family for helping me to hone my skills over the years and making me eligible for the role. It is a true privilege to be one of the first female Seychellois on the islands to be given a top managerial position in a leading international hotel chain.”

The appointment is a promotion for D’Souza, who had previously held the position of HR & training manager for Hilton Seychelles Northolme Resort & Spa and DoubleTree by Hilton Seychelles – Allamanda Resort & Spa.

D’Souza also enjoyed a two-year stint working in the UAE as HR & training manager at the Hilton in Abu Dhabi. This latest move is one of the first measures taken by Hilton in the Seychelles to raise the number of women in managerial positions, an initiative resulting from its participation in a ‘Women in Leadership’ conference held last month.

A Hilton veteran, D’Souza joined Hilton Seychelles Northolme Resort & Spa in 2006 as training coordinator, and in six months was confirmed as training manager. In 2010, she took up the position of HR & training manager at Hilton Windhoek in Namibia. As part of the opening team of the hotel, D’Souza set up the HR department and trained the heads of departments and all members of staff.

Two years later, Doreen joined Hilton Abu Dhabi in the UAE as HR & training manager. In 2014, she returned to Seychelles as the cluster training manager, responsible for training the teams at all three Hilton properties in the Seychelles. Bringing 27 years of hospitality expertise to her new role, D’Souza will focus on creating experiences for families and groups to enjoy in the resort’s private location.

“Doreen has always been hard working and focused on results, with the impressive ability to support and develop the team. We take pride in the fact that she will be our first Seychellois resort manager, and the first woman in Africa and the Indian Ocean region to get this title and responsibility,” said Gregory Thierion, General Manager at Hilton Seychelles Northolme Resort & Spa and DoubleTree by Hilton Seychelles – Allamanda Resort & Spa

Located in Anse Forbans, the DoubleTree Resort & Spa by Hilton Hotel Seychelles – Allamanda has a private beach surrounded by lush tropical vegetation. Congratulations to Doreen D’Souza. Seychelles is proud of you.

Villa Charme de L’Ile, a new home-grown small hotel to open its door on La Digue end of August

Villa Charme de L’Ile of La Digue Island.

Debbie and Sydney Mills are in the final stages of construction of their new property, the “Villa Charme de L’Ile” on La Digue. The five self-catering apartments consist of 3 well-appointed blocks with an immaculate garden and a small swimming pool. The gardens are an example of the ‘small is beautiful’ concept where flowering orchids are the center of attention. The opening date for the Villa Charme de L’Ile is set for the end of August.

Congratulations to Debbie and Sydney Mills for this lovely new addition to the La Digue list of tourism establishments. Mauritius Tourism Professionals well suited for Seychelles!

Until next time, I bid you Bon Voyage

Alain St.Ange

Saint Ange Consultancy.


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