Firmly established on the tourism map as a hotspot for high-end and aspirational travel, the Seychelles is branching out and welcoming new genres of travellers to its stunning shores. Emily Millett writes.
Well known the world over for its picture perfect images of turquoise waters and white sand beaches, the Seychelles has long been a main stay on the travel and tourism scene.
And today, as the destination records ever more successful arrival figures according to the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, the sector continues on its popularity incline, with new routes and increased accessibility across the board.
Commenting on the steady growth of the industry, general manager, Acajou Beach Resort, Joanise Doway told TTG: “What’s really encouraging is that the destination seems to be achieving more visibility, and the frequency of flight connections overall, along with the variety of incoming flights from different sectors, allow travellers more options than ever before to make it easy to reach Seychelles.”
While Seychelles has long been considered a luxurious or aspirational destination for high-networth travellers, today the industry is widening its pool of target markets to include a new influx of travellers looking for value-for-money.
“The main trend we are seeing is the demand for value-for-money,” owner, Bird Island Lodge, Seychelles, Guy Savy told TTG. “Guests want the true authentic experience of being on an island in the Seychelles. This prompts us to continue our present formula which essentially involves offering a simple blend of nature and Seychellois hospitality at an affordable price.”
Echoing this sentiment, Doway said: “There’s more variety in the type of tourist than there used to be, as the Seychelles is now seen as more accessible and not just for the super-rich. This has helped us as our pricing offers great value while still providing a high standard.”
And it’s not just this new breed of mid-range and lower budget travellers that are helping to broaden the tourism horizon in the Seychelles. This year, the travel industry is seeing a significant increase in travellers from new global markets as well.
“The Seychelles’ core European markets still seem to be strong, but the emerging markets continue to grow and we’ve seen that in our hotel too, with more visitors from the UAE, India, China and other countries that haven’t typically had Seychelles on their radar before,” said Doway. “We seem to be on the radar now and that’s definitely a positive trend,” she added.
While the destination’s popularity within the wedding and honeymoon sector remains strong, new niche markets such as family travellers are also showing a new interest in the destination, as public relations, branding and communications manager, Mason’s Group, Nicole St.Ange told TTG: “The Seychelles is predominantly a honeymoon destination, however, over the years there has been an increased flow of young families and retirees all wanting to see the beauty of the tropical islands. The statistics all show positive growth and the Seychelles continues to accommodate large numbers from Europe but there is also expansion in the Asian and Arabic markets.”
According to Savy, one reason for the increasingly widened markets feeding the Seychelles, is the general travelling public’s increased awareness for nature and environmental consciousness.
“From what we are seeing, the majority of tourists visiting Seychelles tend to be honeymooners or repeaters but we are also getting a lot of first time visitors as we extend our marketing efforts, particularly to emerging markets. Most of the tourists tend to be Europeans, who are generally discerning travellers, especially where nature is concerned, and nature is a major pull factor for tourists to the Seychelles.”
As a destination that heavily relies on its inherent natural beauty to attract visitors, the Seychelles has recently started to take a more proactive approach to sustainability and eco-friendly travel, with certain hotels such as Acajou Beach Resort leading the pack.
Speaking to TTG about the hotel’s sustainability ambitions, Doway said: “In 2016 we’re looking forward to further growth and also hope to increase awareness about our hotel, especially when it comes to our environmental contributions. We’re embarking on the process of achieving the Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Label as well as some other international certifications. Our environmental credentials are something that we’re trying to really spread the word about, because nowadays travellers are looking for responsible accommodation choices, and with the sun powering half our hotel’s electricity consumption and a number of other green initiatives, our guests can be reassured about that when they stay with us.”
Taking full advantage of the destination’s intrinsic allure amongst travellers with a penchant for nature and the environment, Bird Island Lodge, Seychelles is currently carrying out a trial run of a webcam which will overlook the resort’s renowned colony of Sooty Tern birds.
“We would like our past guests and those who have not yet visited the island but would like to, to have the opportunity to be more closely ‘connected’ to wildlife,” explained Savy. “By setting up the webcam, people from all over the world will get to see what is happening at the Sooty Tern Colony on Bird Island at different periods of the year.”
Working hand-in-hand with the rise in environmentally aware travellers, is a growing interest in authenticity – something which can often be difficult to achieve in a destination where a hotel might be the only building on an island.
“Eco tourism is a growing trend as guests are more conscious of the importance of having the least impact on the environment. As a result, Constance Lémuria Seychelles which was certified Green Globe in 2014, aims to go even more responsible. We’ll go greener and more local by promoting even more regionally-sourced food and the indigenous culture,” Legac told TTG.
“Denis Private Island remains a favoured choice in the destination due to its unique concept of the island being almost self-sustainable by having its own farm. Travel trends show that people are in search of unprocessed and natural living, so to embody this on a private island is highly sought after,” he added.
Bestowed with an unparalleled natural beauty, the Indian Ocean archipelago of islands that make up the Seychelles continues to welcome new markets and encourage a more environmentally conscious means of travel.