Minister Loustau-Lalanne was accompanied by the Principal Secretary for Tourism, Anne Lafortune, and the Chief Executive of the Seychelles Ports Authority, Colonel André Ciseau.
AIDA Cruises is one of eleven brands operated by the Carnival Group – one of the world’s largest cruise lines.
The AIDA brand, which has a fleet of 12 ships is sailing to Seychelles for the first time this season, and AIDA Aura — one of its smallest cruise vessels — is already making its third call to Port Victoria.
AIDA Aura arrived in Port Victoria on Tuesday, carrying 1,300 passengers and 400 crew members and will be leaving on Thursday. The large majority of the passengers are German nationals.
The ship’s captain, Sven Laudan, welcomed Minister Loustau-Lalanne and his delegation onboard the ship measuring some 200 metres with 11 decks.
Captain Laudan explained that AIDA Aura is making round trips to Seychelles, Mauritius and Reunion, and will be making some 10 port calls to Seychelles this season.
“We spend three days here and the passengers are happy about this, there’s excursions everywhere,” he added.
Minister Loustau-Lalanne and his team were given a short tour of the cruise vessel, which has many amenities, including restaurants, bars, fitness centre, and pool area.
The Minister said he has visited AIDA Aura considering it’s the first time the cruise brand has included Seychelles on its itinerary.
He noted that AIDA has already confirmed that it will be sending a bigger cruise vessel to Seychelles for the 2018-2019 cruise season.
Welcoming the news, the Minister said that this signifies an added boost to the number of Germain tourists visiting the destination, considering AIDA is tailored for the German market. Germany is already the leading tourism market for Seychelles in 2017.
“From my discussions with the Captain I have been made aware that the passengers are extremely happy to be in Seychelles and would prefer to spend up to seven days, but we cannot allow them to be docked for seven days in our port as it would affect our operations, so we have to find ways to get the cruise ships to include other islands on their itinerary as we endeavour to attract more cruise vessels to our shores,” said Minister Loustau-Lalanne.
“I believe we are slowly developing our cruise business and we need to make a good impression when we have new cruise lines picking the destination. We are witnessing an increase in the number of holidaymakers coming through the cruise liners and we should try our best to get at least half of them to get on a plane and spend a longer holiday in Seychelles,” he added.
The CEO of the Ports Authority, Colonel André Ciseau, said a total of 42 port calls are expected this season, with the cruise liners bringing some 42,700 visitors to Seychelles.
This represents an increase of almost 50 percent over last year when 28 port calls were recorded, as well as a 55 percent increase in cruise visitors to our shores.
“The work we have done together with the Association of Ports of the Indian Ocean Islands (APIOI), stakeholders, partners and the local authorities, in addition to improved maritime security in the region is paying dividends. We have invested a lot of efforts in growing the business and we will continue to work with other countries in the region for joint marketing. And now that we are also jointly promoting the Cruise Africa Strategy this would be of added advantage,” said Colonel Ciseau.
“As part of the Cruise Africa Strategy we are also working to encourage super yachts to visit the region in parallel with cruise ship calls, and together with the Port Management Association of Eastern & Southern Africa (PMAESA) we are developing a yacht lottery as part of this promotional effort, which will allow the winning yacht to visit member countries of the port association without paying the applicable port dues,” he said.
Colonel Ciseau said the lottery should be ready to go on sale by the end of next year.
The Seychelles’ cruise ship season lasts from October to around April.
Minister Loustau-Lalanne remarked that the cruise business is one with huge potential and that once the planned six hundred metre extension of Port Victoria is completed the country should be more aggressive in promoting Seychelles as a cruise destination.
If all goes according to plan, the Port Victoria extension and redevelopment project is expected to commence early next year and should be completed by 2021.