As we prepare to bid farewell to 2015, it was important for me to reflect on what we have achieved together for our country’s tourism and also its culture related industries. I must say that I feel incredibly proud of our achievements, because on the one hand it is today accepted by everyone right across the political divide that we have indeed brought Seychelles tourism to a new level, and secondly it is obvious that today in Seychelles, culture in all its dimension, is once again being discussed as an important industry for our people.
I am the first to recognise that all this was achieved because we did it together, and this we did for Seychelles. Can I start by saying what a huge privilege and pleasure it was for me to have held the tourism and culture portfolios. Many have said and continue to say that I had been entrusted with the most burdensome but wonderful roles that there is in the country. Burdensome because the Ministry of Tourism and Culture through tourism has the economy of the country on its shoulders, and through culture we have been entrusted to place the Seychellois people at the very centre of our nation’s development, because we cannot have culture if we do not respect our people.
We know that there is still much to do but I hope with you, as members of the private sector trade, we shall continue to look together at the vision we have paved out together for our islands’ tourism and culture industries. But as we wave goodbye to 2015 it is important to reflect that in the tourism industry of Seychelles, we have achieved what was deemed a dream. Seychelles has now recorded 271,989 visitor arrivals as at 27th December for the first time ever. This is 19% over the 2014 figures which stood at 229,034. The success of the tourism industry has enabled the IMF to recognise that Seychelles’ economy is performing better than expected because the islands’ tourism industry was performing. Today, we can safely assume that we shall end 2015 with over 275,000 visitors and establish a new record for Seychelles.
Many of our hotels, and this even in some of the small home-grown properties, as well as the tourism supporting businesses have come out with innovations to show that they are today ready to be counted as the backbone of the country’s economy. They have all worked, and continue to work closely with the Seychelles Tourism Board. This is why I need to again use this opportunity to acknowledge the successes of our Tourism Board. The investments into the tourism industry by many more Seychellois is due in great part of the confidence in our tourism industry. The same can be said about general investments in tourism and this includes major capital investments by hotels and resorts, re-investments by DMCs etc. The Seychelles Tourism Board supported by the department of tourism on the ground has kept Seychelles visible in the four corners of the world, and they have worked with the private sector to not only consolidate our existing tourism source markets, but also in opening new markets for our tourism industry. Our 19% increase in visitor arrivals over last year, shows that Seychelles is today visible and this has ensured that we remain relevant as a tourism destination.
On the culture front, our work has finally paid off and today our culture and its related industries is once again being discussed everywhere. The artists have themselves declared that we are undergoing a cultural revolution in Seychelles. We have once again got an Arts Gallery, and our National Collection can once again be seen and admired by one and all. The National Arts Council has continued to spread the values of our culture, and our Museums, Archives, Library, Kreol Institute, Heritage Foundation, Heritage Research, National Conservatoire of Performing Arts,Copyright Department and Film Unit Department teams are on board and ready to start 2016 running to continue to deliver for Seychelles.
For the economy of Seychelles to be right we need tourism. Our Tourism Board and our Tourism Academy will continue to work alongside our private sector partners for the benefit of our tourism industry.
This is why we keep putting emphasis on tourism and we thank people who are devoted to helping tourism grow” I said when I addressed our ministry’s end of year general staff meeting.
“Let us keep putting culture at the base of our tourism and by this we are getting our people to be involved and to take ownership of our country’s key industry,” I also said as I requested at the same time that more emphasis should be put on the training of our staff in all the departments and bodies falling within the Ministry of Tourism and Culture.
During this meeting I also thanked all staff of the ministry for their hard work and dedication for this year as I said the successes of the ministry was thanks to the hard work of each staff member.
“It is the dedication of our staff members which ensured that the Ministry of Tourism and Culture closes this year on a good note,”
“The ministry has attained a lot and has overcome a number of challenges. We are able to deliver because we can and we want to deliver. For us to succeed, we need to keep being united as one in the ministry. We need to work together as a team. We must take into account that challenges will never stop, but we should always remain connected and in unity as a ministry.” I said.
In that address at the International Conference Centre (ICCS), I also spoke about various key areas of focus for this year including the ministry’s door to door visits, the fungus problem at the National Cultural Centre, the marketing of Seychelles as a destination and its visibility as well as the many recognition the islands have received over the past months.
I want to end by wishing each and everyone of you a Happy New Year and to wish you continued success in your endeavors.
Minister of Tourism and Culture