The Seychelles Tourism Board (STB) has partnered with British viral online news and video publisher, UNILAD, to produce an impactful video enticing people to visit the destination.

The desired effect has far exceeded expectations as the video posted on UNILAD’s travel themed Facebook page – UNILAD Adventure – has indeed gone viral, reaching over 2 million views in just a matter of days.

The video commissioned by STB’s Digital Marketing section entitled “Things to do in Seychelles” is just under three minutes. First posted on Facebook on Wednesday October 18, it was an instant hit with over 500,000 views in the first 24 hours, with several thousand shares and comments.

Within 48 hours, the video exceeded the initial one million viewership target and has now surpassed the 2 million view mark, gaining over 26 thousand likes, 15 thousand comments and 14.8 thousand shares in the process.

The STB Chief Executive, Sherin Francis said: “We ensured that the video was as informative as possible, and this is one of the most successful campaigns we have had online. The fact that the video has had over 2 million views, with the highest ever number of engagements have surpassed our expectations. We recognize that doing joint campaigns with renowned social media experts is a sure way of obtaining the much-needed visibility.”

The UNILAD team that produced the video spent 8 days in Seychelles, recording their experiences of things do to while visiting the archipelago, accompanied by STB’s Digital Marketing Executive, Randy Rosalie. The main theme of the video centers on a young couple visiting the different islands, experiencing the various adventure activities available such as zip lining, diving, jet skiing, parasailing, snorkeling, and hiking among others.

As part of its digital marketing strategy for 2018, STB plans to create several viral videos in the coming months, so as to greatly increase visibility online, mainly on social media sites such as Facebook and YouTube, which have billions of followers.

The Director of STB’s Digital Marketing, Vahid Jacob said his section will be working with some of the world’s leading content developers like UNILAD, Lad bible, Condé Nast Traveller among others, as working with videos platforms such as UNILAD enables Seychelles to create amazing content, at a fraction of what it would cost to advertise on major international television networks.

Mr. Jacob said: “It’s a very affordable and interactive way to reach a large audience on the internet through social media sites. This form of marketing appeals primarily to young couples who plan to visit Seychelles for their honeymoon for example.”

The next project lined up is the launch of several 360 destination videos about the destination, which will also be channeled through online media platforms.

To date the UNILAD produced video “Things to do in Seychelles” is the most successful video the Seychelles Tourism Board has created, and the online response has been outstanding, exceeding all expectations.

As the Seychelles celebrates the islands way of life through the Creole festival, SNA met with one of the pioneers in the promotion of the island nation’s traditional dances.

Marietta Matombe who comes from the western Mahe district of Anse Boileau is known asMadanm Kanmtole -- the traditional dance lady. The 59-year-old, is a mother and grandmother who manages the national traditional dance group of Seychelles. 

Matombe keeps the Seychellois traditional dance alive by giving lessons to members of the public and trains local instructors.

SNA met with Matombe to learn more the ‘kanmtole expert.’


SNA: Tell us a bit about yourself?

MM: The minute people hear of me, they automatically think of the kanmtole - traditional dance. We are six in the family and I can say that I was born in a family deeply rooted in culture. My parents, as well as uncles and aunties, are musicians and dancers, and most of them are still active, even my mum who is past 80 years old still dances. 


SNA: What have you done career-wise?

MM: Right after school I joined the world of work, in the tourism sector. I started as a waitress at the Equator hotel and after 12 years I moved to the newly opened Barbarons hotel. It was there that I met a German couple who would later become my employers.

The couple had been coming to the Seychelles every year and during breakfast, I would hold their baby. They were surprised at how well the baby took to me and offered me a job as their baby’s nanny in Stuttgart. I declined as I had my own daughter to care for but the following year, they came back to the same hotel and made the same offer which I accepted.

Matombe hopes that the traditional dances will always be part of the Seychelles' culture. (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY


SNA: How was life in a foreign country?

MM: At first it was difficult as for me; it was a culture shock as I had never been to Europe. My boss was well off and I had to adjust to the lavish lifestyle -- a three-level house, outdoor and indoor pools and a garage with cars like Lamborghini, Jaguar and Porsche.

They also travelled a lot and I had to look after the baby. But I also travelled with them and I have been to Bahamas, Australia and the United States. Although I was happy with my work, I missed home -- the food, the music and my family.

When I met my aunt and cousin in Paris I decided to stay in France where I worked for a while. The German family wanted me back and I worked for them for two more years. After that, I felt that my children needed me so I returned to my islands in the late 1990s.


SNA: Are you still in contact with your German family?

MM: I met someone special in Germany and we have been together for 22 years. Every time I visit him I also spend a couple of days with the German family who now lives in Munich. The kids whom I cared for are parents today. They are my family and helped shaped the woman I am today.


SNA: Tell us about your return to Seychelles?

MM: I went back to traditional dances and not long after I was given the responsibility of managing the national traditional dance group. The group does not do competitions but rather promotes and preserve our dances. We do it locally and internationally. We also assist districts to set up their own cultural groups.

The newly trained group with their certificates. (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY


SNA: How do you see the future of our traditional dances?

MM: Under threat because the younger generation is not taking up the traditional dances. They are more into modern dances and music influenced by reggae and other beats. But I am positive as we have been training instructors and giving lessons.  I am happy to say that in the 12 years that we have been giving lessons, more people join the classes each year. I would like to see more men joining in.

We also organise balls with only traditional dances. Together with the instructors,  I am hopeful that our dances will not disappear but will remain for the next generation. Traditions disappear, but culture evolves, and I hope that our dances will always be part of our culture.


SNA: How will you keep up with all the challenges that culture face?

MM: As long as these legs will allow me I will continue to persevere and promote and preserve our culture especially the dances. How can I give up when I am child who was born, raised and breathed traditional dances.

The Seychelles Tourism Board (STB) has pledged its continuous support towards the organization and promotion of Festival Kreol – an annual celebration of the Creole culture and heritage. Seychelles is this year hosting the 32nd edition of the festival.

Speaking at a press conference on Friday, October 27, STB’s Deputy Chief Executive, Jenifer Sinon, said the event is one that allows the country to showcase its tradition to the rest of the world, which she described as a plus for the tourism industry, highlighting the fact that October is a peak month for visitor arrivals to the island destination.

The joint Press Conference was also attended by the Minister for Youth, Sports & Culture Mitcy Larue and Chief Executive of the Creative Industries and National Events Agency [CINEA] Galen Bresson. It was an opportunity for local media organizations and international press covering the festival to meet with the organizers and ask questions about the various activities.

It is the first time that CINEA, which has been tasked with organizing all major events in Seychelles, is organizing the Festival Kreol, as well as the former Carnaval International de Victoria previously organized by the Seychelles Tourism Board. The carnival has now been merged with the traditional serenade held during Festival Kreol each October and will this year unfold as the International Creole parade.

Most of the journalists were interested to know more about the International Creole parade which will be held on Saturday, October 28.

It was revealed at the press conference that the event will be seeing the participation of 12 international floats from South Africa, Reunion, Mauritius, Rodrigues, India, and Notting Hill as well some 21 local floats. The floats will depart Boise de Rose Avenue at 3.00pm, going down Francis Rachel Street, past the clock tower and Independence Avenue before ending at Freedom Square, with key stops included along the way for the participants to entertain the public.

The parade will end with the presentation of prizes to the best three local floats and the top three international floats, which will be followed by a show where a local artist, Hudson Dorothe, who has made important contributions towards the development of the local music industry will be honored.

As it has been the case for past Festival Kreol and the former Carnaval international de Victoria held since 2011, STB has brought in a number of foreign press to cover this year’s events in keeping up with its objective of giving added visibility to Seychelles as a tourist destination. Some 30 international press members hailing from various countries including South Africa, Russia, China, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, Mauritius, Reunion island and Ghana, are covering the festival this year.

Ms Sinon said: “STB is happy that it has been able to support this event, sharing the experiences we have gained in previous years. The carnival was a platform that allowed us to showcase our culture, and our people which makes us stand out in this competitive tourism sphere. We are pleased that the carnival has now been merged with Festival Kreol. We have managed to bring in a number of press partners from across the globe and we are prepared to bring in more press next year as we have a rich culture which needs to be showcased to the world as this will set us apart as a tourist destination.”

Both Minister Mitcy Larue and Mr. Bresson who are involved in organizing the Festival Kreol for the first time this year, have said that the aim is to have an even better festival next year. They both said that they will be taking into account the strengths and weaknesses observed this year and will be bringing together various stakeholders including the private sector, artists, the general public among others to ensure that everyone can contribute ideas and take ownership of the events before launching the 2018 festival.

President Danny Faure of Seychelles will make a state visit to Mauritius at the invitation of Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth.

The state visit will take place from October 26 to 28. Faure is expected to leave the country on Thursday.

The last time the two leaders met was at the United Nations General Assemblyin September in New York.  

Earlier this week, representatives of the two island nations met in the 12th session of the Seychelles-Mauritius Commission on Bilateral Cooperation.  The meeting which was held in Mauritius took stock of the achievements made since the last joint commission and proposed a new roadmap of cooperation for next two years.

The agreed Minutes of the meeting is expected to be signed during Faure’s state visit to Mauritius.

Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, and Mauritius share a common cultural and historical past. The two island nations face similar challenges and business opportunities.

The two nations have had an air service agreement since April 1997 which was reviewed in 2014. The Seychelles’ national carrier currently flies five times weekly to Mauritius.

With only 1,758 km separating Seychelles and Mauritius, many Seychellois make the two and a half hour trip to Mauritius each year for holiday, shopping, business as well as for medical treatment.

Among the Seychelles’ delegation to Mauritius will be Jeanne Simeon -- Minister for Family Affairs — and the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Nicholas Prea.

Seychelles is the world’s most vegetarian-friendly country, according to a new Global Vegetarian Index.

The rankings were conducted by Oliver’s Travels, an online villa booking website

The index was calculated based on countries’ annual meat consumption per person, the number of vegetarian restaurants and the number of vegetarian restaurants in relation to population size.

Seychelles, an island nation in the western Indian Ocean, came in first ahead of Thailand and Malaysia.

A nutritionist from the Ministry of Health, Stephanie Desnousse, said that Seychelles has raised a lot of awareness on retaining a healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet among the population.

“This has no doubt transcended in the food we are eating every day and in the restaurants as well,” said Desnousse.

She said, however, that: “We should be careful with the rating as it is most likely that more travellers are dining in restaurants than the locals.”

Talking about the types of vegetables and fruits available, the nutritionist said that there is a variety, but high prices remain a challenge for local consumers.

One of the hotels promoting healthy living in Seychelles is Le Meridien Fisherman’s Cove located at Bel Ombre in the north of Mahe, the main island.

The hotel’s general manager, Julien Jacquin, said, “We provide a vegetarian option on all our menus and we are also flexible by making a special dish for a guest according to his or her dietary requirement.”

One of the vegetarian dishes created by chefs of the Le Meridien Fisherman's Cove hotel. (Le Meridien Fisherman's Cove) Photo License: CC-BY

Jacquin said that “it is really important to promote healthy living. We are offering a salad bar every day and vegetable soup among other things that we do.”

He added that:  “Our chef meets up with the guest who has a dietary requirement so they can discuss regarding what they prefer. It is more a personalized service.”

Speaking to SNA, a lover of gastronomy, Sony Antat, said that Seychelles’ fine dining experience varies from one restaurant to another and most of them serve vegetables with almost every meal.

Antat said he loves to go to Chatter Box, a local restaurant, which places a strong emphasis on healthy living and served pre-packed food from South Africa.

The Global Vegetarian Index was done by Oliver’s Travel to find out the most vegetarian countries as October is World Vegetarian Month.

The Philippines will look at the possibility of providing Seychelles with teachers and train Seychellois caregivers to help with the increasing demand in these sectors, said the country's newly accredited ambassador.

Uriel Garibay, the new ambassador of Philippines to the Seychelles, made the statement after presenting his credentials to President Danny Faure at State House, Victoria, on Tuesday.

 “We discussed the possibility of bringing in Philippino teachers in the field of science as well as mathematics,” said Garibay.

He added that the two countries want to come up with a mechanism in order to speed up or facilitate the recruitment of these teachers.

Talking about the extent of Philippines' experience in providing care to the elderly and incapacitated, the new ambassador said that Faure and he discussed the potential of giving training to Seychellois in that field.

The new ambassador of Philippines to Seychelles said that Seychelles and Philippines have the same concerns when it comes to the ocean and seas and both countries are hoping to come up with cooperation in this area (Thomas Meriton, Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY

We would like to come "up with a training programme for people who will take care of the elderly as [Faure] mentioned that the population of Seychelles is growing older, hence the need for people who can take care of the aging generation,” said Garibay.

He informed the press that many Philippines nationals work overseas in the caregiving departments.

Looking to benefit from Seychelles’ experience in the Blue Economy, Garibay said that his island nation is also interested to learn more about making use of and preserving the ocean.

“We have the same concerns when it comes to the ocean and seas and we are hoping to come up with cooperation in this area,” said the ambassador.

Subjects and areas discussed between the two countries will be the topic of the third joint commission meeting that will be held soon. The details of the cooperation areas will be talked about.

Philippines and Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, celebrate 30 years of bilateral cooperation this year.

The newly accredited ambassador will be based in Nairobi, Kenya.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017 00:00

Artists in Seychelles produce high-quality work

Seychelles might be a small country but the quality of work that visual artists produce is of international standard, something that locals should be proud of, an author said.

Martin Kennedy, the author of ‘Art in Seychelles – Then and Now’, made this statement after he presented the coffee-table book to Seychelles’ President Danny Faure at State House on Friday.

The first part of the book showcases the history and development of art in Seychelles and the second part focuses on individual artists of today -- both popular and emerging.

“It has been several years since artists have been saying that there is a necessity to have such a book that will valorise the work they do and trace the history of art in Seychelles. Arterial Network has decided to make this happen,” said Georges Camille, chair of the Network.

President Faure said that he will be giving the book to foreign dignitaries with pride when he goes on overseas missions. (Thomas Meriton, Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY

Arterial Network is a non-governmental organisation that supports and develops art in Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean.

“Our aim was always to create an archival document, something which is a snapshot of how things are now [as the artistic landscape] will change very quickly,” said Kennedy.

He informed the press that while Faure was browsing through the book, the president said that he will be giving the book to foreign dignitaries with pride when he goes on overseas missions.

“I think that he was particularly enthusiastic about the fact that this book will be given free to school, colleges, and universities,” said Kennedy.

Of the 2,000 prints made, 100 copies will be given to educational institutions and libraries.

“Seychelles lacks a museum that showcases paintings as well as a lack of books about art in the island nation. It is important that the youth have access to such information and documents, which might influence them to become artists,” said Camille.

To gather materials for the book, Kennedy spent time with each artist, visited their studio and spoke to them about their work. The second part of the book is a mixture of quotes directly from the artists and some critical comments by the author.

“We hope that in future there will be many more editions that will continue to describe the cultural landscape here in Seychelles. I think that people who see the book will be surprised and delighted by the range and diversity of the work and also the quality,” said Kennedy.

He explained that future editions will be updated with work of new artists while old works will be removed.

Other copies of the book are not yet available on the local market. Once they arrive, they will be available for purchase in several outlets including the Arterial Network gallery on Eden Island. Discussions are still ongoing with five-star hotels, local bookshops and duty-free at the Seychelles’ International Airport. 

The book will cost $76, which the author describes as “competitively priced and it reflects the quality and value of the book.”

Money raised will be used to produce future editions of the work and as funding for the Arterial Network’s activities.  

Four Seasons Resort Seychelles climbed 22 places in Condé Nast Traveler’s ranking of ‘The Best Resorts in the World’ and remained in fourth place as ‘Top Resorts in the Indian Ocean’ for 2017.

Sitting in 19th place globally, the resort was the only establishment in the 115-island archipelago in the western Indian Ocean to feature in the 30th annual Reader’s Choice Awards for Condé Nast Traveler.

Last year, Four Seasons Resort Seychelles held the 41st position in the best resort category of the luxury and lifestyle magazine published by Condé Nast, an American mass media company based in New York.

Scoring 99.17 points for the ‘Top Resorts in the Indian Ocean: Readers’ Choice Awards 2017," the resort came out behind three Maldivian tourism establishments.

“This is yet another fantastic achievement by our team, who works passionately to deliver incredible holiday experiences to our guests - something that is recognised not only here in Seychelles, but increasingly on a global stage,” Adrian Messerli, the General Manager of the resort, said in a press release.

These awards "add to the Resort’s previous successes, which include being ranked number one Best Resort in Seychelles in the Condé Nast Traveler Readers Choice Awards 2016 and the Tripadvisor Award of Excellence 2017,” the statement said.

More than 300,000 travellers took part in the 30th annual Readers' Choice Awards survey, the results of which were announced mid-October. Readers had 7,320 hotels and resorts to vote for.

The resort, with 67 luxurious villas built like tree houses, is located at Petite Anse beach in Baie Lazare, a southern district on Mahe, the main island of Seychelles. The resort’s architecture is a mixture of Creole with French colonial and European influences.

Researchers from the Seychelles Islands Foundation, which manages the remote Aldabra atoll, have introduced new methods to monitor the population of giant land tortoises there.

The Aldabra scientific coordinator, Cheryl Sanchez, told SNA that the team has been using the methodologies --distance transects and sweep surveys -- since August.

“Both methods are common in different parts of the world and are commonly used with tortoises. The combination of these methods will allow us to estimate a population. It will also allow us to collect information on other parametres of tortoise biology,” said Sanchez.

Sanchez said that the new methods were introduced to continue long-term methodologies and that they include additional components to gain further information on these species.

The population of giant tortoises on Aldabra is more than the population of the Seychelles. (SIF) Photo License: CC-BY

Aldabra atoll is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Seychelles, a group of islands in the western Indian Ocean. The atoll is home to the largest wild Aldabra giant tortoise population, in the world. The current population of wild giant tortoises on Aldabra, approximately 100,000, is greater than the entire human population of the island nation which is 93,000.  The species has been monitored by the foundation every month since 1998.

However, a review of the data collected over the years identified some shortcomings in the previous studies which is why the team recommended that new methodologies be introduced. These methods are widely used for estimating the density or abundance of populations in the wild within a region.

Detailing the two methods, Sanchez said, "the distance transects will allow management to accurately determine the total population of tortoises on the atoll and also follow its trend.”

“Recorders walk a specific transect and record all tortoises seen. It also notes whether the tortoise is alive or dead,” explained the Aldabra scientific coordinator.

Giant tortoises have been monitored by the Seychelles Islands Foundation every month since 1998.(SIF) Photo License: CC-BY

As for the sweep surveys, Sanchez said that it will provide vital information on tortoise biology such as their size, their sex as well as age.

This also gives a better and increased understanding of other factors affecting their population such as their distribution, mortality and reproduction on. Other components of the sweep survey involve identifying and monitoring key tortoises nesting areas, as well as markings and recapture.

“However, the new monitoring programme will incorporate recording and searching for hatchlings, which is also part of the sweep survey,” said Sanchez.  The researcher said that even though Aldabra is thought to have the largest population of giant land tortoises anywhere else in the world, as of now they cannot collect data on newborns.

The distance transects will be conducted using distance pointers while the sweep surveys will be recorded directly on a handheld device called the Trimble, enabling a standardised and more efficient data collection process.

The team took almost a year to set this new protocol for monitoring in partnership with foreign researchers and the Zurich Aldabra research platform team. The new survey methods were then presented to the research team and a field training was also conducted. Its implementation marks a milestone for Aldabra research.

The Aldabra atoll is thought to have the largest population of giant tortoises in the world.(SIF) Photo License: CC-BY 

The surveys will be conducted twice a year at several locations and will also encompass different types of vegetation.

Historically, the giant land tortoises were dominant herbivores on most islands of the Indian Ocean. All seven species that formerly lived on Madagascar, Mauritius and La Reunion were exterminated by 1800 by early settlers and sailors who killed them for their meat.

After over 100 years of exploitation, the giant tortoise population on Aldabra was similarly in serious danger of becoming extinct. The situation continued until 1900, when Charles Darwin, an English naturalist best known for his contributions to the science of evolution, was enlisted to work with the government of Mauritius to establish a reserve on the atoll. 

Monday, 23 October 2017 00:00

EU to open first office in Seychelles

eunion will be opening its first office in Seychelles after the signing of an agreement aimed at making transactions with the European Union (EU) and Indian Ocean countries easier.

The agreement signed on Friday at the Department of Foreign Affairs will allow Seychelles to benefit from around $11.8 million of funds from the EU.

The Seychelles’ Foreign Secretary, Claude Morel, said, “It is a first agreement that we have signed with Reunion and it is also a debut with other countries of the region. There are certain countries that have been targeted for this form of cooperation with Reunion Island.”

The agreement falls under the ‘European territorial INTERREG V Indian Ocean’ for 2014 to 2020. It is a programme in which $74 million is allocated by the European Union to strengthen partnerships with countries in the southern Indian Ocean which include the Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Mozambique, Kenya, India, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Australia, as well as the French Southern and Antarctic Lands.

Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, has between now and 2022 to make its requests and projects for implementation under the agreement in consultation with Reunion Island.

“Reunion has already told us it is up to us to decide on the projects. There are some priority areas that have already been discussed such as in environment, tourism, education and health,” said Morel.

On his part, the President of the Regional Council of Reunion, Didier Robert, said, “I salute the engagement of Mr. Morel in this transaction and the attention he gives to the success and development of cooperation between our islands.”

Robert added that “our population are winners; our population will come out greater with those exchanges. It’s a convention of action with projects that will allow us to progress.”

He also highlighted the improvements in cooperation in the tourism industry, with cruise ships visiting both islands as well as in aviation, whereby shorter flights between the two countries have been established.

Robert said that although much has been accomplished it is still insufficient.

Seychelles’ Foreign Secretary said that signing of the agreement will allow new development in the relations between Reunion and Seychelles.

Prior to the signing, the President of the Regional Council of Reunion met the President of Seychelles Danny Faure at State House. Faure said that Robert’s visit “reflects the quality of friendship and cooperation between the two sister islands, forged by a common history and a strong cultural and linguistic affinity.”

The two Presidents stressed the importance they attach to the development and intensification of the links between Seychelles and Reunion in various sectors.  

Reunion will also be participating in activities organised in the 32nd edition of the Creole Festival which was officially opened on Friday. 

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