He was accompanied by the Tourism Department’s Principal Secretary, Anne Lafortune, and Director for Product Development, Sinha Levkovic, on the visit last Friday.
The ministerial delegation met with the owners and managers of 11 tourism establishments on the island, ranging from newly-built to longstanding accommodations. This includes small hotels, self-caterings, guesthouses and large hotels.
The tour allowed the minister to introduce himself, have a first-hand experience of the level of products and services being offered to visitors on the island, and check the pulse of the tourism business on the island.
The visit started at La Digue Island Lodge a large hotel of 69 rooms that has been standing for over 40 years, where the owners are working to upgrade the facilities and offer new products.
Domaine de L’Orangeraie, which opened its doors in 2015 was the other large hotel to be visited.
The minister was also welcomed at Le Repaire Boutique Hotel & Restaurant, Marie-France Beach Front apartments, Fleur de Lys, Orchid Self Catering Apartments, Chez Marston, Lakaz Safran, Villa Authentique, Kot Babi, and Le Nautique Luxury Waterfront Hotel.
Well-known for its tranquility and world-class beaches, including Anse Source D’Argent, La Digue relies heavily on tourism, and the island is visited by a good number of tourists.
All of the owners and managers shared their successes with Minister Dogley and his delegation including their high occupancy rate. Most of the establishments work with both Destination Management Companies and online booking sites to bring in their clients.
With regards to challenges, the availability of local manpower, stray dogs, the increased presence of drug users and associated petty crimes, congestion at the jetty, noise, increase in the number of motorized vehicles and speeding, lack of a centralized sewage system, interruption in electricity and water supplies, were but some of the issues raised.
Minister Dogley took note of the various concerns, which needs to be addressed by his ministry or channeled to other agencies.
On the issue of sewage, the minister confirmed that a project will soon be implemented to have a comprehensive sewage and wastewater treatment plant on La Digue. Minister Dogley also spoke about plans for the Public Utilities Corporation to have an additional power transmission cable to guarantee electricity supply on the island.
A firm supporter of sustainable practices thanks to his long years of service in the field of environment, the tourism minister also encouraged the hotel establishments to venture into environmentally friendly and cost effective practices, including the installation of their own rainwater harvesting system and solar panels.
Many of the establishments also highlighted their intention and desire to increase their room capacity to be able to expand their business to accommodate more clients and raised their concerns vis-à-vis a moratorium that is limiting new tourism establishments to five rooms only, based on a carrying capacity study done for the island.
Proposals to revise the moratorium to limit new developments to 10 rooms is something which Minister Dogley said will need to be carefully assessed especially now that a visioning exercise, which will chart the way future developments are undertaken on the island is currently in the discussion phase.
There are currently some 100 licensed tourism establishments, offering some 596 rooms on La Digue. Minister Dogley will soon be undertaking a similar visit on Praslin Island.