Published on : Saturday, September 2, 2017
The Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine, Mr. Maurice Loustau-Lalanne said this on Friday last week, after visiting tourism properties on the island, as part of his ongoing door-to-door visits to holiday accommodations in Seychelles.
This was his first visit to tourism businesses on La Digue — the Seychelles’ third inhabited island — since he took charge of the tourism portfolio in December last year.
Accompanied by the Principal Secretary for tourism Mrs. Anne Lafortune, they visited 14 tourism establishments — from a one bedroom self-catering apartment to a 70-room hotel – ranging from quite recently opened accommodations to those that have been standing for a good number of years.
The visit was an opportunity for them to see whether the properties were up to the required standard and to have a better appreciation of their successes and constraints.
Starting off at Anse Gaulette, the minister and his team called at the Le Relax Luxury Lodge — a small hotel comprising of six villa as well as Lakaz an Bwa — a two-bedroom self-catering. Both are quite new on the market having opened within the last two years.
Owned by Gerald Iglesias and his wife — a retired couple originally from France — Lakaz an Bwa, which has been built entirely of local wood, is one example of a tourism establishment on La Digue that has strived to showcase the Creole architecture.
Granite self-catering at La Passe was the smallest establishment visited. Owned by Sylvia Adrienne who has worked for several years in the tourism industry before venturing into her own business, the one-bedroom self-catering apartment is more of a family accommodation.
While at La Passe, the Minister also visited Chez Ahmed — a two-bedroom self-catering, Kot Babi — a nine-bedroom guesthouse that has been in business for 14 years, as well as the La Digue self-catering, which boasts six studio apartments located on the first floor of the recently built Mills Complex.
Chez Marston a small hotel of five rooms and a restaurant that has existed for a good 25 years is another property which the Minister visited at La Passe, where he met with the owner Mr Marston St Ange who is well known character on La Digue. Right across the road from Chez Marston, Mr Loustau-Lalanne stopped at the construction site of a new five-bedroom hotel, which Mr José St Ange is planning to open in November this year.
The delegation then headed to La Digue Island Lodge at Anse Reunion — the largest establishment to be visited. The 70-room hotel owned by Mr. Gregoire Payet has been standing for around 45 years.
They were welcomed by the owner’s daughter Mrs. Brigitte Payet, who said the hotel was quite popular among honeymooners, while she showcased ongoing work to improve the standard of the hotel.
The delegation also called at Elje villa and Agnes Cottage two self-catering establishments, Villa Veuve –a small hotel with 20 rooms and Petra’s guest house a three-room bed and breakfast guesthouse all situated at Anse reunion. At L’Union, the minister visited Chloe’s cottage and Villa Source D’Argent.
Mr Loustau-Lalanne visited La Digue just a few days ahead of the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, the Patron Saint of the island on August 15, which is the busiest period of the year for the island. This meant that all of the establishments visited were fully booked.
At the end of his tour, the minister said that he had been able to ascertain that the owners — most of the Seychellois –were very good at marketing their properties, as they confirmed that their full occupancy was not only for the August feast, but will last for the next two to three months.
Most of them noted that they were making use of booking websites such as Agoda, Airbnb, booking.com, seyvilla among others to market their business. When it comes to visitors, Germans topped the list of tourists that choose to holiday on La Digue. Visitors from Italy, France and Reunion also proved to be quite popular.
With regards to the level of standard, the minister expressed satisfaction with what he had seen during his visit to the various establishments.
“They have gone to great lengths to improve the standard of their products. I think they know that we will be introducing a new hotel classification system soon and they are getting ready before this happens. Everything I’ve seen from the one-bedroom self-catering establishment to a 70 room hotel, shows that they are all improving their products,” said Minister Loustau-Lalanne.
The owners of the different tourism accommodations on La Digue also took the opportunity to raise several concerns to the minister. This ranged from lack of street lighting, problems with water and electricity supply, road condition, availability of local manpower, among others.
Minister Loustau-Lalanne said: “There are some issues and I managed to solve one or two on the spot, but there are others that I need to cross check with other colleague ministers because they are not of my responsibility directly and we will attend to those as we continue to do our work.” The minister also welcomed the desire of the various business owners to contribute towards the cost of solving the some of the issues highlighted, which he described as a good display of public-private partnership in the tourism industry.
Many of the establishments also highlighted their intention and desire to increase their room capacity to be able to expand their business to accommodate more clients and raised their concerns vis-à-vis a moratorium that is limiting new tourism establishments to five rooms only, based on a carrying capacity study done for the island.
Commenting on the matter, Minister Loustau Lalanne said: “We need to look at it not on a case by case basis, but rather in its entirety to see what needs to be done to contain this resounding success which we are seeing today on La Digue.”
The Minister has already visited a range of hotels on the Seychelles’ three main inhabited islands — Mahé, Praslin and La Digue — in his endeavour to have a better appreciation of the various services and products on offer, as well as to appreciate the successes and gain an understanding of challenges faced by these establishments.