Creole comfort, small hotels boost Seychelles' tourism numbers to new record
File Photo: Visitors pictured disembarking at the Seychelles International airport, from an Air Seychelles flight. (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - A touch of Creole comfort and the warm welcome from an increasing number of small hotels and Airbnb-style room options helped boost Seychelles’ visitor numbers to an all-time high last year, the tourism minister said.
Visitor arrivals to Seychelles reached nearly 280,000 people in 2015, according to the latest figures from the National Bureau of Statistics.
Seychelles Tourism Minister Alain St. Ange credits the 19 percent bump to the increase in ordinary Seychellois and private sector participants being part of the tourism industry.
“It is the ordinary people who have establish their small hotels of two or 10 bedrooms who are giving tourists the Creole touch. This has also allowed the people to have more respect for the tourism industry,” says St. Ange.
SNA talked to owners of three small tourism establishments offering Creole comfort. Some owners are saying that the increased housing options are putting pressure on their established hotels.
Lisette Honore of the Diver’s Lodge in the northern district of Beau Vallon said: “We had a slight increase last year; it was not to a great extent. More and more it’s getting more difficult because there are more establishments setting up and there is a lot of competition.”
This was echoed by owner of Chateau Bleu, Guy Denis, in the eastern district of Anse Aux Pins.
“I will tell you, frankly, although we hear the increase on television this is not the reality. It is really hard getting guests even when prices go down. Too many licenses have been given with no proper control,” Denis said.
For the owner of ‘Le Bonheur’ guesthouse, Marlene Rea and her husband, in the northeastern part of Mahe, there has been an increase in guests but not in revenue collected.
“There has been an increase in the guests we receive but their spending factor is less than what it was previously. There are more people but not more money,” Rea said.
The three owners confirm that the Creole touch they add to their establishments are well received by their guests.
At Diver’s Lodge, guests can enjoy special typical Creole food.
“The clients love it. We have a breadfruit tree so we offer them breadfruit chips,” explains Honore. “There is a saying in Seychelles, ‘If you eat the breadfruit when in Seychelles you are bound to return.’”
Denis of Chateau Bleu says “the Creole touch is in our design with the bedsheets, table covers and the flowers we used. Even for breakfast, we include a lot of local fruits like papayas and bananas.”
At Le Bonheur they offer the Creole food specialties’ like the spicy grilled fish and octopus curry.
The establishments stated that they do receive more guests from France and Germany which are the two leading markets with about 37,500 and 36,160 people respectively for the year 2015.
Tourism is one of the driving forces for the economy of the Seychelles islands in the western Indian Ocean.