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INTRODUCTION

Background and rationale

Importance of tourism to the economy. The number of visitors to Seychelles increased by 19 per cent in 2015 to reach just over 270 thousands.  Receipts from international tourism grew from US$257 million in 2009 to US$430 million in 2013, before falling to US$393 million in 2015 equivalent to US$1, 423 per visitor.  The direct contribution of tourism to gross domestic product at current market prices and domestic taxes in 2014 was 23 per cent and 29 per cent respectively.   Direct employment in tourism-related industries amounted to 11, 723 persons in 2014 representing 24.4 per cent of formal employment.

Seychellois participation. In order to promote Seychellois participation in the tourism sector, tourism sub-sectoral policies establish that some tourism-related activities are exclusively reserved to Seychellois operators.  At the end of 2015, there were more than 1,550 operators in the Seychelles tourism sector of which an estimated 1, 200 were Seychellois.

Tourism assets. The most valuable assets for tourism development that Seychelles is endowed with are natural and cultural attractions. Seychelles is blessed with pristine white beaches some of which are regularly voted among the best in the world and a large number of endemic plants and animals. Almost 47% of Seychelles land area is designated as protected areas for environmental and biodiversity purposes. In 2010, the President committed the country to the target of protecting more than 50% of its land area for conservation.  However, the total marine protected areas amounts to less than 1 per cent of the Seychelles Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).  In 2012, Government announced plans to designate 30 per cent of the Seychelles EEZ as Marine Protected Areas, which will make it the second largest marine reserve in the Indian Ocean, half of which will be strict no-take zones.  The rich natural heritage of Seychelles is reflected in its two UNESCO World Heritage Sites – Aldabra Atoll and Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve.

Seychelles has 46 national monuments which are conferred to those monuments that are deemed important either for their historical importance or scientific interest, or because they are aesthetic symbols that celebrate the social, political, cultural and economic achievements.  In 2013, the Ministry of Tourism and Culture submitted a request to UNESCO for the Mission Ruins of Venn’s Town to be classified as a Cultural World Heritage Site and for Silhouette Island to be classified as a World Heritage Natural and Cultural Site.  The Ministry is also marketing 4 of Seychelles’ cultural attractions that highlight the country’s cultural heritage under the brand name “Patrimwann”:  Creole Institute, Domaine de Val de Près (Craft Village), La Bastille and the Eco-museum.

There are important cultural and nature-based events that represent important promotional platforms for the Seychelles’ tourism sector.  The most important ones are: Festival Kreol; ‘Carnaval International de Victoria’, the Seychelles Eco-friendly Marathon and the Seychelles Ocean Festival.

 

Tourism in national development frameworks. Tourism has always been one of the main pillars of the economy.  This is reflected in all of the current national development frameworks namely, the Seychelles Strategy 2017, Seychelles Strategic Land Use Development Plan 2015-2040, and Seychelles Sustainable Development Strategy 2012-2020.  The goals for the tourism sector outlined in the Seychelles Sustainable Development Strategy 2012-2020 are to:

  • Promote a sustainable tourism sector; and
  • Enhance the economic benefits of the tourism sector for the local community.

The strategic objectives for the sector in the three national strategic frameworks are to:

  • Improve the overall quality of the Seychelles tourism product;
  • Refine the positioning of the destination on the international tourism market;
  • Increase the direct and indirect participation of Seychellois in the tourism sector;
  • Increase the occupancy rates of tourism accommodation establishments;
  • Significantly minimise the negative impacts of tourism development on the environment and society;
  • Implement sustainability standards by introducing a tourism sustainable scheme for the tourism sector;
  • Promote the sustainable management of existing local and natural resources within the tourism sector;
  • Diversify and expand the tourism experience in Seychelles;
  • Integrate the principles of sustainable tourism in educational institutions/organisations;
  • Preserve and promote the cultural and traditional values of Seychelles; and
  • Promote corporate social responsibility within the tourism sector.

Institutional arrangement. The Tourism Department oversees the planning, development, implementation, management, monitoring, and evaluation of the tourism sector in Seychelles. The department took over some of the functions that until 2013 were part of the responsibilities of the Seychelles Tourism Board. This include: exercising general supervision over tourism enterprises; establishing a code of practice and standards for tourism enterprises and to ensure that they are complied with; and promoting the development of human resources in tourism and related fields.

In discharging its responsibilities, the department coordinates the implementation of the tourism policies, plans and strategies of other ministries, departments, and agencies. It also works closely with private sector operators, non-governmental organisations, and representatives of tourism industries. The institutional arrangement of the tourism sector is outlined in figure 1. The roles and responsibilities of the key stakeholders of the tourism sector are explained in the Seychelles 2012-2020 Tourism Master Plan as updated in March 2016.

Legal and regulatory framework. The underlying legal and regulatory framework guides the country’s tourism development process and shapes the tourism business environment in a way that fosters long-term national interest. The operations of tourism business activities in Seychelles are governed by sub-sectoral policies, regulations and other legal instruments. Annex 1summarizes the regulatory and legal framework under which tourism businesses currently operate.

Competitiveness. In 2015, Seychelles ranked 2nd in Africa on the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index behind South Africa, and 54th in the world out of 141 countries. Seychelles scored well on environmental sustainability, prioritization of the tourism sector, tourism service infrastructure and transport infrastructure, but less well on price competitiveness, natural and cultural resources, and safety and security.

[1] This section is drawn from the Seychelles 2012-2020 Tourism Master Plan as updated in March 2016.

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