x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

In Seychelles the business is tourism

Off to the Seychelles on business? Consider yourself extremely lucky.

Clouds rise above the Seychelles main island of Mahé. Roberto Schmidt / AFP
Clouds rise above the Seychelles main island of Mahé. Roberto Schmidt / AFP

You would have to be pretty fortunate to land a business trip to the Seychelles, but if you work in tourism you might just be in luck.

That is because tourism is the biggest non-governmental sector on the island paradise.

It is estimated that about 15 per cent of the Seychelles' workforce is employed in tourism and other sectors closely tied to the industry.

Airlines: Etihad Airways bought a 40 per cent stake in Air Seychelles in March last year, and was awarded a five-year management contract valued at US$65 million (Dh238.7m). As a result, flying to the Seychelles is easy and convenient from the UAE. A flight to the main island of Mahécan cost $1,429 and takes about four hours.

Airport with Iata code: The Seychelles is made up of 115 separate islands, so there are several airport options. But the largest and busiest is Seychelles International Airport on Mahé. In 2011, more than 674,000 passengers passed through the airport, a figure that was up almost 9 per cent on the previous year.

Airport hotel: Mahé is a small island, 28km long by 8km wide, so no hotel is that far. But the closest, at 4.7km, is the Wharf Hotel and Marina, according to Expedia.

Downtown hotel: Victoria, the tiny capital of the Seychelles is one of the smallest in the world. In 2009 the population of Greater Victoria was 25,000. Le Méridien Fisherman's Cove is one of the closest hotels, and can cost about Dh3,500 for a three-night stay from Friday on Expedia.

Power restaurant: There is no such thing as a power restaurant in the Seychelles, which operates in a laid-back island way. Marie Antoinette, ranked the top restaurant in Victoria on TripAdvisor, is said to be the best place to eat Creole food.

Cost of cab from airport to city centre: A taxi ride to Victoria is about 75 Seychelles rupees, 100 rupees including the evening surcharge.

Currency/conversion rate: Dh1 buys about 3.18 Seychelles rupees.

 

The Seychelles is an archipelago consisting of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean off the east coast of Africa.

When were plantations the biggest industry in the Seychelles?

The French introduced plantations to the Seychelles when they settled there in 1770. They initially produced cotton, sugar, rice and maize, relying on the labour of slaves. Eventually the British took control of the islands after the Napoleonic Wars and ­outlawed slavery. But plantations continued to be the largest ­industry, employing about a third of the working population in the 1960s. Cinnamon, vanilla and copra were the largest exports for many years. However, by 2006, less than 3 per cent of people worked on plantations.

What happened?

Tourism became the main sector after the opening of the international airport. Money from tourism accounts for about 20 per cent of GDP, bringing in about $600 million (Dh2.2 billion) annually. About 15 per cent of the workforce is employed in positions related to the sector.

What are the country’s largest source markets?

As of the week ending March 31, the largest market was France, with 10,516 visitors, according to the Republic of Seychelles National Statistics. Germany was second with 8,542 visitors, followed by Russia with 4,648, Italy with 4,612 and South Africa with 2,816 visitors. The UAE came in sixth with 2,750 visitors.

gduncan@thenational.ae