World Travel Awards 2015: Seychelles Tourism and Air Seychelles clinch Indian Ocean’s top trophies
Seychelles winners at the 22nd World Travel Awards held at the Kempinski Resort Saturday evening proudly posing for a souvenir photo with their trophies. (Joena Bonnelame, Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - The Seychelles archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, which offers visitors powder-white beaches surrounded by crystal-clear turquoise oceans and lush tropical vegetation, has been voted the Leading Indian Ocean Destination at this year’s World Travel Awards.
This was announced Saturday night at the Kempinski Resort at Baie Lazare, located in in the south of the Seychelles main island of Mahé which hosted the 22nd annual World Travel Awards Africa and Indian Ocean Gala Ceremony.
The event, which was attended by over 100 industry leaders from some 20 countries across Africa and the Indian Ocean and covered by international press including global French television network TV5 Monde, also saw the Seychelles Tourism Board, the national airline of the Seychelles and the Seychelles’ main port of Victoria take home top accolades.
After the Seychelles Tourism Board (STB) was awarded the Indian Ocean’s Leading Tourist Board award, the STB’s Chief Executive, Sherin Naiken, told members of the press that she had not actually expected the STB to clinch the award, which in previous years had gone to other tourist boards in the region.
“I can say that I am really proud and this award we should dedicate it to Seychelles,” said Naiken, adding that promoting the tourism industry is not a responsibility held solely by STB but that it was a collaborative effort of all stakeholders, including the tourism ministry and STB staff working in the tourism offices in all corners of the world promoting Seychelles.
“…It signifies the hard work they are doing and I believe the award will serve as a source of encouragement for them to work harder to continue promoting Seychelles.”
|STB's Chief executive collects the award presented to the Leading Indian Ocean tourist board. (Joena, Bonnelame, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
Saturday was also a big night for the Seychelles national airline as Air Seychelles managed to clinch the titles of leading airline in the Indian Ocean in terms of its Business Class service as well as its cabin crew service for the second consecutive year.
To put the cherry on the cake, Air Seychelles also took home the most coveted award for the regional airline business - the Indian Ocean Leading Airline, which was won by Air Mauritius last year.
The airline accolades have been described as testament of the dedication and hard work of the Air Seychelles staff supported by all stakeholders in Seychelles.
“It makes me as the CEO feel extremely humble just to see how amazing the Seychellois within my team have worked and it’s their commitment, it’s their pride, their motivation and the want to succeed that got us this,” an extremely happy Manoj Papa, Air Seychelles’ CEO, told the press in an interview directly after collecting the awards.
“It’s amazing, it’s a great night… we’ve come a long way - there’s been a lot of challenges in our way but we’ve brought it home for you.”
|Air Seychelles CEO Manoj Papa is joined on stage by the airline's Chairman Joel Morgan also Minister for Foreign Affairs and Transport to collect teh award for Leading Indian Ocean airline. (Joena, Bonnelame, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
|A representation of the Air Seychelles family proudly showing off their achievements at the World Travel Awards 2015. (World Travel Awards) Photo License: All Rights Reserved|
The Seychelles national airline, which was first established in 1977 and adopted its present name in 1978, was wholly owned by the Seychelles government until 2012 when it entered into a strategic partnership with Etihad Airways. The UAE carrier bought a 40 percent equity stake, investing $45 million in the airline with the aim of turning the company around after several prior years of losses.
Sharing the success with the Air Seychelles staff last night, the Chairman of Air Seychelles, Joel Morgan, who is also the minister responsible for transport, said the awards showed the work done over the last three years to turn the company around.
“It shows our small country’s capabilities to go out there in the world and show that we can deliver a service and run an airline at a standard that we can even compete and come out as the winner ahead of other airlines in the Indian ocean region,” Morgan told SNA.
Like the national airline, the Seychelles Port of Victoria also retained awards won last year as the Indian Ocean's Leading Cruise Port and the Indian Ocean's Leading Cruise Destination
The Chief Executive Officer of the Seychelles Port Authority, Lieutenant Colonel Andre Ciseau, described the tourism industry as a collaborative effort between local, regional and international stakeholders which he said the Port Authority has taken into account in ensuring that it delivers on the vision to maintain the competitiveness of Port Victoria.
“We have worked hard during the year and ensured that we evaluate the strengths and weaknesses while we continue to evolve to ensure that we maintain our competitive advantage,” said Ciseau.
|The Seychelles Port Capital of Victoria retained its position as the Indian Ocean Leading Cruise destination and Cruise Port. (World Travel Awards) Photo License: All Rights Reserved|
The World Travel Awards, established in 1993, rewards the very best travel organisations in the world through a global vote by travel professionals from 171 countries.
Awards are presented for excellence in providing services in different categories of the world’s travel and tourism industry including air services, car rental services, spas, travel agencies and tour operators, hotels and resorts amongst others.
“Thank you is a lovely word… to be acknowledged is a lovely thing to happen… this was an idea to try and look at the travel industry globally,” the World Travel Awards President Graham Cooke told SNA.
This is the first time Seychelles has been chosen to host the African and Indian Ocean regional Award presentation ceremony.
Cooke noted that the organization loves to explore new destinations, adding that such an event would gain Seychelles global media coverage.
“It’s near the equator, it’s very central to the world in terms of if you look at the Indian Ocean and Africa… we put together a world tour every year where we go to every continent and put on an event and I think really the Seychelles now seems to have a much more progressive tourism ministry wanting to place themselves on the world map,” said Cooke, who is on his first visit to the Indian Ocean island.
In Saturday’s ceremony neighbouring Indian Ocean island, the Maldives, was recognised as the Indian Ocean's Leading Beach Destination while in Africa, Kenya took the coveted trophy for Africa's Leading Tourist Board, the east African nation’s Diani Beach was voted Africa’s Leading Beach Destination, while Kenya Airways walked away with Africa’s Leading Airline in Business Class.
Other Seychelles businesses in the travel and tourism industry were also proud winners of the 22nd World Travel Awards for the Indian Ocean in their respective categories.
Four Seasons Resort Seychelles was recognised as the Indian Ocean's Leading Hotel Residences as well as Seychelles’ Leading Resort. Four Season’s Royal Suite also emerged as Seychelles’ Leading Hotel Suite.
Kempinski Seychelles Resort was the proud winner of the Indian Ocean's Leading Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions (MICE) Hotel and the island nation’s Leading Conference Hotel.
|Several other Seychelles businesses in the travel and tourism industry were also proud winners of the 22nd World Travel Awards for the Indian Ocean in their respective categories. (Joena, Bonnelame, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
AVANI Seychelles Barbarons Resort & Spa, which only opened its doors in March this year, won the Indian Ocean's Leading New Resort award while the Indian Ocean's Leading Private Island Resort is Seychelles’ Fregate Island.
Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa and Raffles Praslin, Seychelles are also proud winners, emerging as the Indian Ocean's Leading Spa Resort and the Indian Ocean's Leading Villa Resort respectively.
Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa is also Seychelles Leading Spa Resort and Leading Boutique Hotel.
Sainte Anne Island was declared Seychelles' Leading Family Resort while Banyan Tree Seychelles was awarded the archipelago’s Leading Green Resort trophy. Praslin Island’s Constance Lémuria Seychelles won Seychelles' Leading Hotel while the Owners' Signature Villa at the Enchanted Island Resort was voted Seychelles' Leading Luxury Hotel Villa.
Both the Seychelles Minister for Tourism and Culture, Alain St Ange, and the STB Chief Executive, Sherin Naiken, have highlighted the visibility that such an event hosted in Seychelles brings to the destination as well as the essential revenue that feeds into the country, as tourism is the main pillar of the island nation’s economy.
“Getting there is easy with a bit of work but maintaining what you have is much harder, and to do this it’s not up to me as the tourism ministry or the CEO of STB. It is the people of Seychelles that need to realize in the end that we are all ambassadors for the tourism industry if our country is to continue depending on tourism,” concluded St Ange.
|The Seychelles Principal Secretary for Tourism Anne Lafortune collecting the trophy awarded to Seychelles as the Leading Indian Ocean destination. (Joena, Bonnelame, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
The World Travel Awards are first given on a regional basis, with the winners qualifying for the grand finals of the World Travel Awards.
Seychelles has been the second stop of the 2015 grand tour which started in Dubai last month, where nominees in the Middle East’s travel industry were recognised.
This year's grand final, which will see winners from the all the regions converge in Morocco, will be held in December.