Seychelles has seen 10% growth in tourism arrivals from the beginning of January to date, compared with the equivalent period last year.

The 115-island archipelago in the western Indian Ocean has seen a total of 110 009 visitor arrivals so far this year. “There has been significant growth, and the figures we are getting include the cruise ships that are coming in on charters through the airport. Usually, they (visitors) come by boat, but when they come via plane, it is a plus as there are other costs that come into play, meaning they contribute more to the economy of the country,” said Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine, Didier Dogley.

Dogley added that the tourism department was in the process of finalising the Tourism Development Act, which will ensure that the functions of the department are guided by law. These functions are legally still the responsibility of the Seychelles Tourism Board (STB).

Statistics from the Central Bank of Seychelles have estimated a $1m increase in tourism earning for the first quarter of the year.

Civil aviation

Talking at a press conference on April 10, Dogley addressed concerns about the shutdown of French airline, Joon, confirming that Air France “will be flying to Seychelles on a three-times-per-week schedule instead of Joon”. “Unfortunately, the airline won't be coming during summer, but will resume services in October this year. With Air France itself flying to Seychelles, we see that as a big plus for Seychelles as it is an established airline.”

The Minister couldn’t, however, confirm that Air Mauritius would be operating in Seychelles, despite the airline have held talks with the local aviation authority.

Renovations to the domestic airport are nearing completion, bringing additional services to the facility. There are also plans to improve the departure lounge and car park area. Wilfred Fock Tave, chief operations officer of the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority, says there is a plan to introduce a pay parking system at the airport once work on the parking area is completed. “This is a common norm in many countries. There will be an area for taxis and car hire, however, car hire operators won't be able to use the space to stockpile their vehicles

Marine developments

The company contracted to work on the expansion of the Mahé quay recently conducted consultations with different partners in the country, said Dogley. “We are expecting them back in the country towards the end of the year with a plan. Early next year, we are expecting the plan to have been finalised so that it can be presented to the government.”

He added that work being carried out at the Bel Ombre jetty where the plan was to have an area for fishing and another for leisure, was complete. On Praslin and La Digue, work on the passenger terminal has started.