Tourism in Seychelles is a vital component of the country’s economy, accounting for more than 60 per cent of its GDP. The national challenge is to find a way to both encourage the growth of the industry while protecting the habitat of the famous Aldabra giant tortoises. As a collection of small islands, protecting the environment is a top priority – perhaps even more than the economy. The influx of visitors to the island and the 27% increase, averaged over the last decade – means protecting a high-value asset like Cousin Island Nature Reserve should be the number-one objective.
There have been discussions about whether Seychelles could be on the brink of overtourism – we connected with Christine Vel, Director for UK & Ireland, Seychelles Tourism Board to find out more.
Is Seychelles truly facing over tourism on the horizon or is it specific islands that have seen an enormous growth in visitors?
Over the last two years we have seen a growth of visitors on the islands and do not expect to grow by double digits anymore. We believe that if we keep to a modest growth we will be on the right track. With the country’s current room capacity and assuming that we keep to the average length of stay, we do not expect to get over 500,000 tourists anytime soon. We do realize, however, that certain tourism attractions/sites need to be managed carefully so as to avoid the issue of over tourism.
Are there islands that are not facing over tourism that travellers can still visit without the negative impact of over tourism? e.g. Praslin / La Digue etc.
Most tourists visit the 3 main islands, which are Mahé, Praslin and La Digue. Many islands/tourist sites are open to day visitors and have the capacity to receive more visitors over the years.
European airlines like Condor and Edelweiss are hanging in the balance about whether their flights will continue. Should that happen – what sort of impact do you foresee for the tourism industry – especially leading up to the slow months of May – July?
It is suggested that these airlines will drop back to operating seasonal flights which will certainly affect us. Thanks to Edelweiss, we have seen the Swiss market grow considerably and then there is the marketing these airlines do for Seychelles which also helps us greatly as we are a destination with limited resources.
Are there any markets that you expect to draw in more travellers as compared to previous years?
If flight dynamics do not change further we are looking at increased numbers from Switzerland and also Israel thanks to our new flight to Tel Aviv. North and South America are performing well as are the Eastern block countries so we are looking forward to positive results from these areas.