After registering an impressive 183 percent growth in Indian outbound in 2015, compared to the previous year, Seychelles is keen to further augment numbers by tapping the burgeoning Indian wedding segment. In an exclusive interview to TF, Sherin Naiken, CEO, Seychelles Tourism Board shared her understanding of the Indian market and detailed how she intended to continue this impressive foray.
What are some key facets of the tourism product of Seychelles? What are their USP?
Seychelles is very unique as compared to other island destinations. It enjoys a year-long warm tropical weather, making it a perfect destination to visit anytime of the year. Seychelles islands offer such diversity – not only in the islands themselves (74 low-lying coral atolls and 41, steep, granitic inner isles), but also in their flora, fauna, ethnicity, architecture, cuisine, traditions and activities. Keeping the Indian traveller in mind we are promoting a plethora of products in India. They are:
Island hopping – A Seychelles holiday is incomplete if one limits their stay to just one island. Island hopping is very easy with regular boat and air services between islands. Mahé is the largest island. It is also home to the international airport and Victoria. It is the cultural and economic hub of the nation. It has 65 gorgeous and uncrowded beaches. There is also a host of great excursions like the Morne Seychellois National Park, Craft village, Domaine de Val des Près and Sir Selwyn Selwyn Clarke market. Praslin Island is home to the extraordinary forest, Valle De Mai, a
UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Anse Lazio considered as the world’s most beautiful beach.
La Digue island boasts of the photographed beach on the earth –Anse Source d’ Argent. It is also the perfect to experience the unhurried pace of island lifestyle with bicycle and ox-carts as the main means of transportation. Silhouette, Bird, Denis, Cerf and St. Anne Marine National Park islands can be easily accessed from Mahe, while Cousin, Aride and Curieuse Marine National Park from Praslin.
Honeymoon – Seychelles is a dream destination for honeymooners, offering a variety of accommodation options including charming Creole guesthouses, intimate hotels both large and small, sumptuous five star resorts and exquisite island retreats. And if a couple wants to do much more than lie on the beach and sip a cocktail they can choose to do a wide range of activities like excursions to national parks, island hopping, adventure sports, etc. The islands also house some of Indian Ocean’s best spa and wellness resorts and facilities.
Adventure – Seychelles offers some of the finest sailing with easy distances and safe moorings. It is also a diver’s paradise, teeming with marine life and spectacular underwater landscapes.
Eco-tourism – Seychelles is a paradise for nature lovers with some magnificent experiences both on land and beneath the sea.
Land – Mahe, Praslin, La Digue and Silhouette have a wide selection of walks among the stunning scenery and exotic endemic flora and fauna found nowhere else but here.
Sea – The Marine National Parks of Ste. Anne, Baie Ternay and Port Launay on Mahe, Curieuse near Praslin and Ile Cocos near La Digue, all provide an unforgettable experience of the underwater treasures of the inner islands.
How has been tourism unfolding in the recent past? What are some of your key source markets? Where does India figure in that list?
Overall tourist arrivals to Seychelles continue to grow. The strong dominance of our European markets is so evident to have driven the double-digit growth in arrivals. The islands had about 276,500 visitors in 2015, a 19 percent increase compared
Tourism is the most important industry for Seychelles which directly affects the economy and the people of the country. Hence, we have to be constantly monitoring the global market and come up with strategies to safeguard our industry from uncertainties. That is why some years back we diversified into Asia by targeting Middle East, China and India to reduce our reliance on European economies when they slowed down.
And we are extremely happy that this strategy has worked out beautifully with Asian markets breaking into the top 10 source markets.
India was the last country we set up office in. We opened the office in Mumbai in 2013. And in less than three years the destination has caught the interest of the Indian traveller and the trade. In 2015, Seychelles saw 183% growth in tourist arrivals compared to 2014 and 85% growth from Jan-April 2016 compared to the same period in 2015. We hope to continue this momentum for the rest of the year.
How do you plan to increase your visibility in the Indian market? What is the kind of positioning you wish to acquire among the Indian outbound? I presume much of the movement, currently, happens in the leisure segment?
As I mentioned, the USP of Seychelles is its diversity. Seychelles offers such diversity, and that is what we want to convey to the Indian market. Seychelles cannot be compared to other island destinations as it is a very different product. It has the best beaches in the world but it has much more to offer. Though they have been traditionally known to be the islands of love, which they absolutely are, the diversity of the islands in their every aspect make them a perfect holiday destination for families, small groups, adventure seekers, nature and wildlife lovers, wellness and spa enthusiasts and the list goes on.
Also we want to highlight that a holiday in Seychelles is unbelievably hassle free .Visa is on arrival and gratis for Indians; the islands can be visited anytime of the year; the locals are very warm and hospitable, and food is not a problem with vegetarians. Indian cuisine is easily available and the destination is just around 4 hours away from Mumbai with Air Seychelles.
Our focus is to tap the well-travelled, well educated, high income Indians with efforts directed towards promoting honeymoon, family, adventure, eco-tourism, small groups, wellness and spa holidays in Seychelles. We are also planning to target the Indian destination wedding segment.