Another 1,300 rooms could also become available for reallocation should developers of eight already approved projects decide not to go ahead with the hotel developments. The eight projects are among 18 hotel developments not included in a moratorium on large hotel projects in excess of 25 rooms.
The Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine, Ambassador Maurice Loustau-Lalanne said the decision does not go against the moratorium, but seeks to ensure that there are enough rooms to cater for the growth in tourism numbers.
“We do not want to have an inconsistency between the number of seats on planes coming to Seychelles and availability of hotel rooms. And given the current performance of the tourism industry, it becomes even more urgent to ensure that hotels with bed stock matches the air access to Seychelles,” said Minister Loustau-Lalanne.
Seychelles currently has some 5,300 hotel rooms spread across more than 500 establishments on the three main inhabited islands – Mahé, Praslin and La Digue. According to a carrying capacity study conducted by an international consultant, Seychelles can sustain a total of 9,300 hotel rooms.
In line with the carrying capacity study, President Danny Faure announced in his State of the Nation address in February that the government has decided to prolong the moratorium on large hotel projects in excess of 25 rooms until the end of 2020. The moratorium does not include 18 already approved projects that are supposed to increase the number of hotel rooms by over 3,000, to match the carrying capacity quota.
However, Minister Loustau-Lalanne said only 10 out of the 18 projects have started and are at various stages of development, while the remaining eight have been dormant, some for more than 10 years. He noted that his ministry will be writing to the respective developers, giving them one year to make a decision.
“They will be given a year to decide whether they want to go ahead or stop the projects altogether. And in case they do not want to go ahead with the projects, the number of rooms will be taken back and put in a pool and reallocated to both local and foreign investors that have the money and are ready to move ahead in the orderly tourism development in Seychelles,” he added.
Meanwhile developers wishing to build large hotel projects and existing hotels wanting to increase their profitability or upgrade the standard of their products, can also start to submit their proposals to be allocated with the 800 rooms belonging to non-operational hotels, in the likes of the old equator hotel, the reef hotel, Auberge club at Belombre, as well as the Cap Ternay and Grand Police hotel development projects, which the government has said will not go ahead.
The reallocations will be done on a case by case basis, and the projects will still be subject to environmental impacts assessments and approval from the relevant regulatory bodies including the planning authority.
Minister Loustau-Lalanne said the government will be imposing a time limit on all newly approved projects benefitting from the reallocations.