Amid tourist influx, Beach Control Committee to ensure Seychelles remains world-class destination
Vendors near the Anse Source d'Argent beach on La Digue. (Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - A new Beach Control Committee has been tasked with the sustainable management of all beaches so Seychelles can maintain its image with tourists as a world-class beach destination.
"We all know that tourists come to Seychelles firstly for the sun and sea scenes. We have noticed recently that on beaches, which are our number one asset, there are activities being conducted that are not necessarily legal or in accordance with regulations," said the principal secretary for tourism, Anne Lafortune.
Since 2014, Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, has experienced a constant increase in tourism arrivals which have had a positive impact on its economic development. The rise in tourists has also brought about a flux of tourism activities especially those associated with the island nation's beaches and coastal waters.
In the first multi-sectorial meeting for this year, held last week, the tourism minister, Didier Dogley, who put together the new committee, said that the authorities are in favour of many activities but are rather seeking to regulate the way such activities are conducted.
He expressed concerns on some of the activities like sales of coconuts and renting of beach beds.
|Tourism partners and the government are not in favour of leasing beach beds. (Chloe Sammy) Photo License: CC-BY|
"We as the authority encourage activities such as coconut vending but we want it to be done the proper way. It is not acceptable for an individual to be walking across the beach with four or five coconuts under their arm and disturbing a visitor who is resting on the beach to buy a coconut from them," he said.
As for the beach beds he said that tourism partners and the government "are not in favour of leasing beach beds as we feel that it will bring about complications and difficulties on our beaches."
The committee comprises of the police force, department of environment, the Enterprise Seychelles Agency, the Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association and the Seychelles Planning Authority among others.
Sybille Cardon, the chairperson of SHTA, told the press that their presence on the committee is to make sure that the reason why tourists come to our beaches is clearly understood.
"Clients come to Seychelles for the beaches. This is what we want to explain to the committee. Of course, we need to put necessary infrastructures such as toilets on beaches, but most importantly we need to keep the beaches as they are - don't place beach beds, and umbrellas among other things," said Cardon.
She explained that it is "the lack of these is what makes us unique and hence are the strong points that the association wants to bring forward."
Lafortune said that the Ministry will be looking at the beaches that are visited most frequently.
"They will be the priority, however, should there be a concern arising in regards to another beach, such as the noise issue, we will be able to know, with the formation of the committee who will tackle the problem," she said.
The Seychelles Planning Authority will be the body responsible for giving authorisations of constructions on the beach, whereas the Public Health Authority will be there to ensure that food being sold on beaches meet hygienic standards among other things.