The new Board of Directors of the Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association (SHTA), representing all the private sector players in the country’s tourism industry, met with Minister Alain St.Ange, the Minister responsible for Tourism and Culture, last Saturday, June 16, at the Le Meridien Fisherman’s Cove Hotel.
The tourism industry’s new Board of Directors had requested the meeting just after their election to office a week ago, and Minister St.Ange said it was important that the meeting was held as the new Board started their mandate. The Le Meridien Fisherman’s Cave Hotel Meeting had a preset agenda by the industry’s association, which included the introduction of the new SHTA Board Members, the role and recognition of the SHTA, the distinction between the Seychelles Tourism Board (STB) and the Ministry of Tourism, the allocation of the government budget (tourism), the Tourism Board’s Director of Marketing position, and the impact of the GST/VAT on the tourism industry.
After opening remarks by Mr. Louis D’Offay, when he welcomed Minister St.Ange and thanked him for meeting the industry’s Board of Directors at such short notice, the different points of the agenda were tabled and discussed.
Minister Alain St.Ange explained that the government remained committed to the tourism industry. “We, today, have a fully-fledged Ministry of Tourism because of the importance of that industry that remains the pillar of our country’s economy. I sat with you as a member of your association for many years, and I remain as convinced as I was then to work with the association for the consolidation of the Seychelles tourism industry,” the Ministry responsible for Tourism said.
Minister St.Ange agreed that he will hold a monthly meeting with the Chairman of the SHTA to discuss matters pertaining to the industry. “This will give me and the Chairman of the Industry’s Association a chance to look at challenges being faced by the association and the industry’s stakeholders. As our meeting will be monthly, we shall be able to jointly keep the industry in focus,” the Minister said.
On the question of a Marketing Director for the Tourism Board, it was resolved that the position be advertised by the association. “The government has always maintained that this position is filled from recommendations made by the association. It is agreed that the recruitment needs to be done, and the sooner the position is advertised and interviews carried out, the faster we shall have the vacancy filled,” the Minister said.
Other points of the agenda were all tackled one by one. The association was informed on the budget of the Ministry and of the Tourism Board, and Minister St.Ange, on his part, heard the recommendations being made with regards to the existing structure of the Ministry of Tourism and of the Tourism Board.
The tourism industry’s association said that they wanted to remain consulted on matters concerning destination marketing and with the management of the Tourism Academy, as they explained that streamlining of the existing structure of the Ministry of Tourism and its Tourism Board was today needed. “We have a heavy structure and one that is causing confusion. We do not feel we need a Ministry of Tourism and a Tourism Board,” Louis D’Offay, the Chairman of the SHTA Board said.
This sentiment received unanimous support by all the members of their Board of Directors as they decided to formalize their recommendations in writing to the Minister. Proposals were discussed as to what the Seychelles tourism trade wanted to see, and they were reassured by Minister St.Ange that their letter would be submitted to President James Michel for his consideration.
The SHTA is expected to submit their official recommendations with regards to the structure of the Tourism Board and the Ministry of Tourism during the course of the week.