Whilst tourist figures are increasing, former Seychellois president and tourism ambassador Sir James Mancham believes there’s still a long way to go to.
Whilst Seychelles, La Réunion, Mauritius and the Maldives have been successfully engaged in tourism development over the last 25 years, developments have remained relatively stagnant in the rest of the Indian Ocean’s island destinations.
Tourist numbers in the larger islands of the Western Indian Ocean, for example Madagascar and Sri Lanka, have largely been stagnant – a result of a vicious circle of internal political turmoil, instability and a lack of infrastructure.
According to the Seychelles’ founding president and much-loved ambassador, Sir James Mancham, however, stability now appears to be on the horizon.
Could 2017 be the year in which the Indian Ocean finally realizes the immense potential of tourism development? Private Island News
According to the Seychelles Tourism Board (STB), by the end of 2016 the Seychelles will have received 300,000 visitors. Market experts suggest this number will climb higher still in 2017, thanks in part to a new partnership with Etihad Airways.
Yet with politicians mulling over the idea of placing a moratorium on hotel establishments of all sizes, there is a worry that the Indian Ocean island republic is already reaching saturation point.
A sustainable development plan will be needed if this growth is to continue.
Earlier this month, the Prime Minister of Mauritius, Sir Anerood Jugnauth delivered an address on Mauritius’ tourism policy, a “critical” factor for its economic development.
“Tourism at the moment accounts for 120,000 employees in the industry,” explained Jugnauth. “Visitor arrivals have grown from 115,080 in 1980 to 1,151,723 in 2015, brining 50.2 billion rupees into the country.”
Prime Minister Jugnauth promised to “continue to address new challenges and transform adversities into opportunities to sustain the growth of the sector.”
With newly found stability, Madagascar is now succeeding to attract the massive investment needed to develop its economy and tourism industry.
Roland Ratsiraka, the Minister for Tourism of Madagascar, revealed that construction will soon start with the build-up of a modern airport in Antananarive and other airports in different regions.
Both the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, H.E. Ranil Wickremesinghe, and the Speaker of the National Assembly of Sri Lanka, Hon. Karu Jayasuriya, confirmed the country is moving ahead with tremendous energy and that tourism is being given “top priority.”
The shoreline of Colombo Harbour is undergoing a massive land reclamation project for a multi-billion dollar complex being financed by the People’s Republic of China.
This year Seychelles has won the World Travel Award as the top honeymoon destination in the world. In the past four years, this revered recognition went to Mauritius. This should not make Seychelles believe that it can sit on its laurels of achievement nor that it should adopt a competitive attitude towards Mauritius. In fact, Mauritius, Seychelles and La Réunion should benefit from the Vanilla Islands concept and work alongside each in a complementary way whilst assisting the tourism development in Madagascar and Sri Lanka in a win-win situation for all parties.