The 14 contestants of the Miss Seychelles beauty pageant will make a child smile in a talent show on Saturday, the show's organiser said.

The talent show, which will be held at the International Conference Centre in the island nation’s capital, will raise funds for a local charity helping children with disabilities called Make a Child Smile. Tickets cost 100 Seychelles Rupees are already on sale and can be bought through the founder of Make a Child Smile -- Clifford Mondon. 

“They will be singing, dancing, including traditional dances, and recite poems. The dances they had recently learned as part of their training in preparation for the contests, while others will be doing demonstrations in kickboxing and karate,” said Terry Carolla, the main organiser.

 The contestants in a practice session with the choreographer. (Michel Desnousse) Photo License: CC-BY

Carolla said the show has been organized in a timely manner so as to give the girls exposure two weeks before the Miss Seychelles crowning ceremony.

“The participants will most importantly face a crowd and build their self-confidence so that come August 26th, they would have conquered all their fears and ready to confidently participate in the pageant,” added Carolla.

Guest artists such as Telsy, Sandra, Fastidious and Joseph Sinon as well as groups like the national cultural group and the Relations band will also participate in the event.

This is the first time contestants of the Miss Seychelles pageant will come together to raise funds for charity.

Mondon thanks the Miss Seychelles contestants for their support and generosity in making a Seychellois child smile. (Cliff Mondon) Photo License: CC-BY

Mondon, the founder of the Make a Child Smile foundation, said: “Money raised by the contestants will go to the charity, which has been assisting mostly children in need of specialized medical treatment or has some sort of disability.”

“I thank the Miss Seychelles contestants for their support and generosity in making a Seychellois child smile,” said Mondon, the father of Grace, who has a disability.

“There are so many children without happiness and without a smile on their faces and I want to see them happy and smiling,” he added.

This year’s beauty pageant will be held under the theme ‘Miss Seychelles Another World -- Labote Seselwa - The pearl of Seychelles.’ 

The contestants -- ages 17 to 25 -- are: Keisha Pereira, Serah Jumaye, Seychelle Worth, Ralista Hortere, Tracy Francoise, Joanna Pouponneau, Stephie Bastienne, Hillary Joubert, Petra Tamatave, Nerli Haide, Nancy Esparon, Ella Marie, Falaine Dora and Angie Desnousse.

The prestigious pageant of Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, will be held at the Avani Seychelles Barbarons Resort and Spa on Saturday, August 26th.

Seychellois can now watch local news and live entertainment on télésesel -- the island nation's first high-definition television channel.

“The channel is the first high-definition local TV channel that will try to find a niche in the information space of the country,” Camille, one of the station's founders, said at the launch ceremony on Friday at Eden Island on the eastern coast of Mahe.

Camille added that the channel boasts people of experience and the latest technology that enables everything to be switched to high-definition.

Télésesel created by Clive Camille and Gilmer Philoe is an initiative of Radius Studios, a private production company set up in 2015 by Camille. The project is supported by the local telecommunication company, Cable& Wireless Cable Seychelles.

The télésesel channel since July 24 is broadcasting 24 hours a day on channel 1 of the Cable IPTV platform. Viewers can watch a wide range of programmes from talk shows, documentary, environment and lifestyles, to shows promoting all aspects of Seychelles. The channel will also have a news bulletin that will be broadcast every night.

Camille told SNA that the new channel is not trying to compete with other broadcasting services in the country, but it will offer a diverse mix of entertainment that suits all ages.   

The two founders of télésesel -- Gilmer Philoe and Clive Camille (Jude Morel, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY

Speaking to SNA, the other founder of télésesel, Gilmer Philoe, said the idea and inspiration started when Camille and himself while the two were looking at a video that he had produced.

“It was only then that Camille asked me to join him in opening a new TV channel. Without hesitation, I said yes,” Philoe told SNA.

Philoe, who worked for 26 years in the field of broadcasting, said that the public was yearning for more local television programmes and the channel will offer just that.

At the launching on Friday, télésesel also presented its group of presenters and journalists in a video. They are Stephanie Remie, Myra Labiche, Betty Mondon, Patsy Athanase, Andy Henriette, Kerine Savy, Madiha Philo, and Bertrand Tirant.

Henriette, the sports presenter, told SNA that joining télésesel was one of his biggest challenges as he had some doubts at the beginning.

He said that his programme will focus on promoting Seychellois athlete and will address controversial subject among others in the Seychelles sports world.

Talking about the télésesel’s partnership, Camille said that they chose Cable & Wireless because the company represents innovation in the telecommunication industry.

The chief executive of Cable & Wireless, Charles Hammond, said that the telecom world is moving to what they have become now, a service provider.

“The transition in this industrial revolution is happening so fast.  It is an exciting time and télésesel forms part of it,” said Hammond.

He added that Cable & Wireless Seychelles received quite a few proposals from different organizations, “but Radius’ proposal stood out in terms of its content and vision of what it wanted to achieve.This is why Cable & Wireless stepped in to assist them in achieving such.”

An invitee at the event, Daniella Payet, told SNA that télésesel is bringing new content to the local broadcasting scene, showcasing another side of the story.

“I have watched the channel, and it is providing good quality,” Payet said.

Seychelles' first-ever display of a pilot whale skeleton has been attracting visitors at the centre for conservation on Silhouette, the third-biggest island.

On show under the patio of the Island Conservation Society (ICS) centre, the skeleton can be found in the busy La Passe area and a few minutes’ walk from the only jetty on the Island.

“Since setting up the skeleton the number of visitors in the centre has increased to at least 150 per month,” says Francois Baguette, the Silhouette Island conservation officer.

The centre, which opened in 2011, is manned by four people and provides information about the different ongoing conservation projects on Silhouette, a National Park and classified Important Bird Area.

It was in 2014 that the four-foot long female pilot whale, also known as ‘cheetahs of the deep,’ was found on Baie Cipailles -- a secluded beach protected by reefs -- located north-west of the luxury Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort and Spa. 

“The carcass was interred for a year, and once it was confirmed that it had decomposed, the bones were treated before going through the perilous task of attaching each with wires,” Baguette told SNA.

These toothed whales are highly social animals living in pods often comprised of 15 to 50 members. (Seychelles News Agency). Photo License: CC-BY

The pilot whale is the second-largest variety of dolphin after the orca (commonly known as killer whales). It got its name due to a belief that the pod (a group of whales) always follows a single leader. The pilot whale is rarely seen in the Seychelles archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, hence the skeleton provides a rare photo occasion for visitors and residents. 

Many visitors have also taken a token of the toothed whale with them, leaving ICS to monitor closely all visitors at the centre which also has on display several baby giant tortoises.

“People are just curious. They see this as a crocodile, and most of them do not even know what it is,” says Baguette adding that they have started to glue the parts together to prevent visitors from taking mementos.

These toothed whales are highly social animals living in pods often comprised of 15 to 50 members.

At the time of the discovery in 2014, the Island Conservation Society stated that this mammal is commonly found stranded ‘possibly as a result of geomagnetic anomalies or sonar or seismic noise which can disrupt their navigation.’

However, it added through a press release that when a single whale is found the cause is usually ‘illness or injury’.

Following the president’s address to the members of the National Assembly on Tuesday, the two leaders in the house gave their responses later in the afternoon.

The Leader of the Opposition, Wavel Ramkalawan, said that the head of state has tried to find the solution to problems that the country is facing and had touched some subjects that have been debated upon by the National Assembly.

“Danny Faure has questioned some practices and brought about solutions, and in this context, I must say that he has looked at ways which can bring Seychelles forward,” said Ramkalawan.

He noted that the president’s address was not the strongest, as the cost of living was not touched and this comes at a time when families are still struggling to make ends meet.

“Apart from substance abuse, this is one of the biggest challenges that the country is facing.  Products are still being sold at ridiculously high prices, and this includes from the government owned organisation -- Seychelles Trading Company (STC),” said Ramkalawan.

The Opposition leader added that more efforts should be done to educate consumers on where to buy cheaper commodities. This will bring down the cost of living as retailers with high prices will have lower their prices or have their products remain on their shelves.

On the president’s plans to increase the legal retirement age from 63 years to 65 years, Ramkalawan said that the country must once and for all speak one language when it comes to the pension.

Wavel Ramkalawan, the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly. (Seychelles News Agency) Photo license: CC-BY

“We will, on our side, bring this subject to all consultative meetings that we will hold in the districts and let the people give us their opinions which we will put forward,” said Ramkalawan.

The Opposition leader said he knows of the public’s already raising concern about the fact that “the population will have to work longer even if they are not feeling too well.”

Ramkalawan welcomed the government’s decision to create two special tribunals to address compensations related to abuse by and in the army, and abuse by and the police force. He said this comes as an acknowledgement for the work that the Truth and Reconciliation Committee has done.

“I can say that this is a good decision because, among the complaints that have been brought forward, a lot is based on the two topics. The sooner they are addressed, the better it will be for the path we have taken towards truth and reconciliation,” said Ramkalawan.

He also addressed the issue of the Island Development Company and suggested that the relevant minister and the head of the company should come before the assembly to answer questions about the company.

“This should be done before any decision is taken as we have to see what benefit it can bring to the country,” said Ramkalawan. The assembly has proposed that the government can use the Island Development Company for its construction projects at a low price.

Ramkalawan said that Faure’s intention to make education institution more autonomous should be well analysed before it is put into action.

“Consultations between parents and members of the community should be held to make sure that the management of the school is well organised to deliver upon the expectations,” he said.

He concluded by saying that “this will also mean that less staff will be required in the administration of the Ministry of Education. I hope that the qualified staffs will go directly into the administration of schools and help make a difference.”

The Leader of Government Business in the National Assembly, Charles De Commarmond on his part said the address shows that the Seychelles President is following closely what is being discussed and raised in the National Assembly.

Charles De Commarmond, the Leader of Government Business in the National Assembly.(Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY

He commended the president for his intention to make educational institutions more autonomous and reliable.

“It is high time that we look at the education system in a way that we can build a strong foundation for learning. There should be bold changes that should increase the interest of students towards learning,” said De Commarmond.

He also said that the communities in which the schools operate should also give a helping hand to ensure that students adopt good values and respect the all educational institutions.”

“To allow the school to manage their own budget and have direct control over their administration is a very wise decision taken by Faure as this will remove any perception that there is political interference by government in schools,” he added.

On the announcement of increasing the legal retirement from 63 to 65 years, De Commarmond said this will enable the country to cope with an ageing population, whereby the elderly will be given a better chance to retire in comfort and dignity.

The Leader of Government Business also welcomed the announcement on no increase in taxes for next year, saying that it will largely benefit the private sector and reduce the scourge of poverty.

“The issue of reducing or removing tax has been an ongoing point of discussion in the assembly. This is an important decision as it will help the private sector to have more certainty and confidence in the Seychelles' economy,” De Commarmond said.

“This also means that families can better plan their future and save more money that can later serve to their own personal development,” he added.

Decommarmond concluded in saying, “I hope that the executive continues to listen to what the Assembly and the people ask to be able to come up with plans that will benefit Seychelles.”

The National Assembly resumes its normal session on Wednesday.

The legal retirement age in Seychelles should increase from 63 to 65 years, and the age of collecting one's pension should rise from 60 to 63, the president of Seychelles told members of the National Assembly on Tuesday.

President Danny Faure was making his second address to the members of the Seychelles legislative body since he became president in October last year. The new retirement policy proposals wouldn't begin until January 1, 2023, he said.

“The fact that we have a population that is living longer, the government believes that the time has come to prepare our population for an increase in the retirement age. We believe that five years' notice is appropriate,” said Faure.

The government will present an amendment to the law before the end of this year together with an amendment to the Pension Fund Act, where the pensionable age will move from 60 to 63 years of age effective on January 1, 2023.

The head of state said there will be no increase in any taxes, charges or fees for next year.

“This is an important decision as it helps the private sector to have more certainty and confidence in the Seychelles' economy. And for them to more effectively plan their operation that will in return contribute to the economy,” he said.

Faure touched mostly on issues related to the socio and economic development of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.

The Islands Development Company, which was asked by the government five years ago to engage in the construction industry on a commercial basis, will as from the end of next year no longer be involved in the industry, said the president.

“Government feels that it is now time for IDC to withdraw itself from this sector and focus more on its mandate for islands development," he said.

The president announced the setting up of special tribunals. One will be an administrative tribunal aimed at resolving all cases of compensation related to land in line with Part III of Schedule 7 of the Constitution.

“I have also decided to create two special tribunals to address compensations related to abuse by and in the army, which has affected some of our citizens. This will also apply to abuse by and in the police force,” Faure said.

Along those same lines, Faure said that technical help had been sought from the UK for a complete audit of the investigation system of the police force.

“This will allow us to take the necessary measures to put our system on the required standard. We will next year invest in a forensics laboratory. The government of India will support us with this project.”

All future presidential and National Assembly elections will now be organised through a special fund under the responsibility of the Electoral Commission. Faure said yearly allocations from the national budget will be made to the fund which will take care of the campaign expenses of candidates who will participate in elections. 

A special fund for presidential and National Assembly elections will be set up under the responsibility of the Electoral Commission. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY

“This is also in line with the desire to have a more level playing field,” Faure said, adding that if this proposal is accepted by the Electoral Commission, a bill will be presented to the National Assembly for approval.

The state funded education system has been the centre of discussions and for months now. In his address, Faure announced the government’s intention to make educational institutions more autonomous.

As from January 2018, the education system will orient itself so that the schools as institutions have more control over the education of their students. The head teachers and their teams will take complete control over the administration of their school, including decisions on discipline.

Faure added that: “The schools will also receive the resources and appropriate tools to do their work. The days when we micro-managed the schools have come to an end. The school administrators receive their guidance from the School Council.”

Post-secondary institutions will manage their budget and have direct control over their administration.

On the subject of the workforce, the head of state said that today unemployment rate is 4.7 percent and in the 45,684 people in employment almost one-third are non-Seychellois.

“This shows that our economy will not be able to function easily without non-Seychellois workers, but I am convinced that it is important for the government to put more effort in helping our Seychellois to move higher in the level of work that they are in now.”

The members of National Assembly have talked a lot about how the food sector has been neglected with not enough resources, Faure said. “The government is responsible to ensure that these sectors have the necessary infrastructure to move to the next level of performance.”

Housing is the other pertinent sector that the president’s addressed touched upon.

“We cannot talk about the social situation and the preservation of the dignity of our citizens without addressing the housing situation,” he said.

Faure said that the housing situation is critical and further to the measures that are being implemented, the government will allocate land on Perseverance to the private sector to build at least 250 more units.

File Photo: Ile Perseverance -- a reclaimed island next to Mahe, has the largest social housing project undertaken by the Seychelles government. (Glenn Pilay, Seychelles News Agency)

“This measure will mean that government will be in a position to concentrate on the planning and construction of another 250 units in districts and regions,” said the president.

The United Arabs Emirates will support the construction of 400 housing units on all the three main islands of Mahe, Praslin and La Digue, he said.

Faure ended his address by urging all to put the interest of Seychelles and the Seychellois people above all other considerations.

The Leader of the Opposition Wavel Ramkalawan and the Leader of the Government Business Charles Decomarmond in the National Assembly will respond to the address on Tuesday afternoon. 

Consular services at the French embassy in Seychelles have been transferred to Mauritius, though that administrative change should have little effect on the Seychellois people, the French Ambassador to Seychelles said.

Ambassador Lionel Majesté-Larrouy said this transfer, which took effect July 16, does not mean the embassy is closing and will not affect the Seychellois people or the French community in Seychelles.

“Since our Seychellois friends do not need a visa to enter the Schengen area, this will not have an impact on them,” said Majesté-Larrouy.

The Schengen Area comprises 26 European states that have removed passport and border controls at their mutual borders. The area mostly functions as a single country for international travel purposes, with a common visa policy.

The ambassador said that: “As for the French almost all administrative transaction such as renewal of passport, visa, and registration of voters on the voters’ register can be done through the internet since these services have been digitalised.”

Majesté-Larrouy said the decision was taken by the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs as part of the modernisation France’s representation abroad.

“In the framework of the modernisation of the French diplomatic channel, France must be able to respond to the challenges of a world in constant evolution and anticipate changes, to keep its effectiveness and global influence,” the ambassador told SNA. 

The French consular advisor in Seychelles, Annick Albert, said that it will cost much more for people to travel to Mauritius to get a passport to go to France.

Albert said that she is still in “negotiation with the embassy to ensure a swift transitioning. In any case, France should never think of closing its embassy in Seychelles.”

The consulate in Port Louis will conduct regular tours in Victoria and will meet with those who wish to do their documents.

The basis for French nationals living abroad to vote in elections will continue, and during election period a polling station will be opened in the Seychelles. The certificates of life for people who are unable to move will remain in Victoria, the capital.

Emergency consular protection will continue to be the responsibility of the embassy. In the event of a crisis, the embassy will remain the point of contact.

France and Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, have diplomatic as well as cultural ties. The French were the first settlers to the islands in the 18th century.  

In the rotation plan and appointments of heads of mission abroad in March, Sylvestre Radegonde was appointed as the Seychelles ambassador to France.

A Seychellois man is being called a hero after he saved two women, both US nationals, and three men in distress at sea at Anse Forbans in the south of Mahe, the main island, on Friday.

Nicholas Barra, 42, told SNA one of his friends called him for help. 

“At first I thought [my friend’s] boat was sinking, but when I arrived on the beach and looked to the sea, I saw two canoes and people screaming for help,” Barra recounted.

Barra said he tried searching for a buoy or rope that could be of help, but it was to no avail.

“I instantly removed some of my clothes and swam approximately 25 meters away from the shore to reach the people in distress.”

A former lifeguard, Barra said as he got closer to the scene, he saw three men, two women, and two capsized canoes in the water.

Barra told SNA, “I managed to get one of the women, and the three men, who were in their life ring, on one of the capsized canoes.”

The former life guard said he was heading for the shore when the woman asked him to go back and help her friend, who was in a life ring holding on to the other canoe.

“I swam back towards the other woman, and I managed to get her on the canoe,” Barra recounted.  “At that point, we got caught up in a huge wave, which dragged us both under the water. When I resurfaced, I tried to search for the woman thinking that I had already lost her. Fortunately, after what seemed like minutes, she came up to the surface groping to the canoe.”

Barra said that “today I am being referred to as a hero, but for me, it was all about doing the right thing that anybody else would have done if I was in that same situation.” (Gossip Corner, Facebook) Photo License: CC-BY 

As for the other canoe with the other four people, the strong current had already driven it back towards him, said Barra, and he had to use a rope that was attached to one of the life rings to tie the canoes together.

“I tried to swim back to the shore, but the current was too strong, and it was draining me out,” Barra said.  “After so much effort, I stopped fighting, and let the current drag us amongst a pile of rocks on the shores.” 

On the shore, onlookers helped the former lifeguard pull out the people from the water.  The police and an ambulance were already on the scene, he said.

An eyewitness, Ryan Dubois, said the incident happened at around 4:30 p.m. and if it were not for Barra, the four people would not have reached the shore.

“The man was very courageous. He struggled for more than five minutes in the water to get the distressed ashore,” said Dubois.

According to Dubois, who was present at the beginning of the incident, the two US nationals were swimming close to the shore before they were dragged out to sea by the current. The three men were security guards from the Double Tree resort who had paddled out to sea to rescue the two US nationals. 

Barra said that “today I am being referred to as a hero, but for me, it was all about doing the right thing that anybody else would have done if I was in that same situation.”

He added that he has once talked to the authorities in Seychelles to set up a life guard system in the south as the seas can get very rough in the month of July.

Seychelles -- an 115-island archipelago in the western Indian Ocean -- surrounded by an Exclusive Economic Zone of 1.3 million square kilometres – has not been spared from accidents at sea.

Several incidents have been reported this year, which included both foreign nationals and locals, one in which two Seychellois drowned. Last year, three people died after the boat they were travelling in capsized off the coast of La Digue island in August.

The island nation has a tropical climate and starting from the month of July, it gets very windy with the south-east trade wind. Conditions at sea can get very rough, especially along the coast. 

Seychelles has won the award for ‘Best Island in Africa and the Middle East’ by 'Travel + Leisure’ for the second consecutive year.

Rated for its activities and sights, natural attractions and beaches, restaurants and food, people and friendliness, and overall value, Seychelles scored 84.57 points, coming out first ahead of Mauritius and Madagascar, second and third place respectively.

The ‘World’s Best Awards’ is a survey held annually by Travel + Leisure, a New York-based travel magazine, which allows readers to rate destinations and travel providers from around the world.

In an article from Independent Online, the Seychelles Tourism Board’s Director for Africa and America, David Germain, said that “achieving the distinction of top island in Africa and the Middle East for the second year in a row is a tremendous honour for the Seychelles, recognizing that the region has much to offer in terms of world-class island experiences.”

“The award helps to garner recognition and provide a significant amount of visibility for our islands to a worldwide audience. It proves further that our beautiful islands are becoming more and more popular, topping the list of the most desirable holiday destinations worldwide,” said Germain.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, almost 170,000 visitors have set foot in Seychelles to date this year. That is a 22 percent increase in visitor arrivals compared to last year at this time.

Seychelles, an 115-island archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, is popular among holidaymakers for it pearl-white sandy beaches washed by warm turquoise waters. Its lush green jungle, big glacis boulders and fiery, romantic sunsets also attract visitors from the world over.

Is that all they look for when considering Seychelles as a destination?

“Other places are crowded, but in Seychelles, we have more privacy. It also offers a lot of beautiful sceneries to be seen,” said Wang Ping from China.

A visitor from South Carolina, in the United States, Michael Barnett said that he and his fiancée love to snorkel and fish, and are very interested in the culture of the island nation.

“Seychelles is a unique place due to its culture. We heard that the people are friendly and the food is really good,” said Barnett.

Coming over from Spain, David Gallard-Gracia said that he wanted to visit the group of “rare islands that few know about.”

The wonderful backdrop and scenes of the Seychelles will feature in an international television series in the U.K.

The comedy series, titled ‘High and Dry’, unfolds with passengers surviving a plane crash on a deserted tropical island.

Starring popular British comedian Marc Wootton, the series is being produced by a UK-based company -- Baby Cow Productions – which has handpicked some of the island nation's secluded and exotic locations for the scenes. 

The series will start airing on Channel 4 in the United Kingdom and is expected to push Seychelles further into the U.K limelight -- a market that has seen a remarkable increase in visitor arrivals to the island nation over the last two years.

The Seychelles Tourism Board and other local authorities are providing full support for the filming on location.

The chief executive of the tourism board, Sherin Francis, told SNA that: “As soon as we became aware that the producers were scouting for a location, we thought that as a beach destination, Seychelles would be ideal.”

Filming which started on July 9th will end on August 4th. The crew will be exploring and shooting scenes at some of the well-known beaches on the Seychelles' main island, Mahe, namely Anse Major, Anse du Riz, and Barbarons.

Important scenes of the 12-episode series will be featured in Anse Major, which borders the Morne Seychellois national park in the north-west of Mahe. 

Francis said that compared to other potential countries, Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, with its turquoise blue sea and evergreen backdrop, offers a distinct Robinson Crusoe effect that will leave viewers in awe. 

The tourism board is also bringing a public relations company onboard to feature a “Behind the Scenes” documentary on the filming.

“It is customary for viewers of such TV series to be given the chance to follow what went on behind the making of the series, which is an aspect that one rarely gets to see. This also helps to create a forum for viewers to engage and discuss the series and also the location,” said the chief executive.

Like most of the film production done in Seychelles, Francis said that drones will be used in mountainous and cave areas.  

A budget of £1.7 million is set for the filming and financed entirely by the Baby Cow Productions.

Seychelles had the opportunity to boost the knowledge of Kenyan travel agents, enticing them to promote and sell the island destination among Kenya’s outbound tourism market, as the Seychelles Tourism Board joined the recent Spotlight workshops in Nairobi.

The workshops were conducted at the Raddison Blu Hotel and Villa Rosa Kempiniski in Nairobi on July 6 and 7.

Seychelles was among 10 tourist destinations at the two-day event, which saw the participation of some 30 exhibitors and 187 agents.

Kenyan Travel agents at the Seychelles’ table were treated to detailed presentations made by the Seychelles Tourism Board’s Senior Marketing Executive, Mrs Amia Jovanovic-Desir.

The Spotlight Travel workshops is an initiative of the Houston Travel Marketing Services that has been organising such workshops in Nairobi over the past 15 years. The aim is to promote outbound travel from Kenya to inter-regional destinations within East Africa, as well as to the rest of Africa and the Indian Ocean.

For Seychelles, the recent spotlights workshop was the perfect opportunity to shed more light on the destination’s products and services, which local trade partners are offering to the different market segments.

Mrs Jovanovic-Desir noted that “In order to better sell the destination, one should have sound knowledge of the range of products and services on offer. However, this is one lacking raised by the agents who attended the training, which they say is hindering the firm demand and sales, when it comes to the Seychelles market.”

Statistics show that visitor arrivals to Seychelles from key markets in the region, including Kenya have dropped in 2017. From January to June, Seychelles welcomed a total of 823 visitors from Kenya compared to 1,044 visitors during the same period in 2016, which represents a drop of 21 percent. This is in spite of direct air links, with Kenya Airways having served the Nairobi-Seychelles route for many years.

Mrs Jovanovic-Desir seized the opportunity at the spotlight workshops to hold discussions with representatives of Kenya Airways on how to consolidate the partnership which exists between the two sides and further combine their efforts on a more strategic marketing approach.

“We have thus agreed to work together so as to encourage more educational trips, as well as media visits, this will offer them the opportunity to experience the destination from the broader angle,” she said.

Mrs Jovanovic-Desir added that such visits will allow the agents to have a better understanding of Seychelles which is a destination that aims to welcome tourists from all market segments, and also offers affordable products, including accommodations owned by the locals that tend to offer personalised services.

Kenya’s expatriate community on the lookout for short-haul flights to destinations offering the perfect retreat, as well as those looking for twin-sector experiences were also highlighted as potential markets.

The desire and determination to make Seychelles one of the destinations they envision to push on the Kenyan market was very apparent, through questions raised by the tour operators, who also left comments highlighting their desire to visit Seychelles and giving their commitment to promote the destination the best they can.

“Amazing, stunning destination. The presentation was wonderful,” said Topster Moraa from Johnson Tours and Travels International.

Commenting on the outcome of the workshops, Mrs Jovanovic-Desir who is confident that the exposure will lead to results in the near future said the majority of the agents who attended the presentations have never been to Seychelles to experience the destination personally, thus justifying the lack of destination awareness.

“Such workshops should be encouraged mainly on markets where we cannot bring most of the  key tour operators and travel agents to our shores to sample the destination, after all, seeing is believe. After all, one has to take action if you want anything to happen,” she said.

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