The foundation stone for the project was laid yesterday by the Minister for Tourism and Culture Alain St Ange and the chief executive officer (CEO) of the Seychelles Heritage Foundation (SHF) Patrick Nanty.
Present at the ceremony were the principal secretary for culture Benjamine Rose, CEO of the National Arts Council Jimmy Savy, district administrator of Port Glaud Egbert Aglae and other distinguished guests.
The Mission Lodge site is one of Seychelles’ most valuable heritage properties from both environmental and cultural perspectives. The SHF wants the site to have a more iconic visual impact by making it more visitor friendly by putting up a reception and visitor information centre with a gallery, cafeteria, a larger parking area, permanent exhibition, new signage, toilet and washroom facilities.
In the re-development the access road leads to a drop off area by the reception building in the location of the present parking space. The central pathway will be upgraded for comfort of visitors including the re-installation of a stone surface and the installation of soft lighting for any late evening activities.
Installation of adequate signage that blends well with the environment will be placed principally in the proximity of the ruins to provide for an enriching insight through visitor information on the history of the heritage site, including information leaflets and guides to further contribute towards a more interesting visitor experience.
There will also be the restoration, cordoning, reconstruction of parts of some of the ruins to conserve the site and present the history that it contains.
In addition to vying for the Unesco recognition, earlier this year, tourism operators have joined with SHF to revamp the site in order to attract more visitors.
The destination management companies (DMC) will lend a helping hand in making Mission Lodge more visitor friendly.
For those who are not familiar with the site’s history, DMCs and SHF will include education facilities to tell the moving story, highlight Mission Lodge’s authenticity all the while blending it in with the natural serenity.
During the ceremony yesterday a memorandum of understanding was signed between contractors and SHF to seal this private partnership.
Addressing everyone present Minister St Ange thanked the SHF and the contractors to have ensured that this property is brought back for Seychelles and is kept by Seychelles, for its people, and Constance Ephilia Resort for naming each plant with the proper signage.
“I am committed, my principal secretary is committed and the two CEOs present are committed to keeping the doors open to the private sector, because we want you to keep on being not just the face of Seychelles but this backbone that our country needs,” Minister St Ange said.
Mr Nanty noted the different elements which the site has to offer and said, “For the moment the viewing point is more popular, many people who go through here miss out on many other riches this property holds, so we want to rectify this.”
As for the building, he is sure that it will be environmentally compatible with the site to keep its unique quality.
The main contractors working on this project are Laxmanbhai Construction, Vijay Construction, Shreeji Construction and Allied Builders.