Despite the economic crunch biting economies worldwide, Seychelles’ tourism industry has been rejoicing from the increased number of cruise ships calling at the port, as local businesses witness a pick up in sales.
The three local handling agents – Hunt Deltel, Mahé Shipping and Aquarius, have all remarked on a successful cruise ship season, with figures of calls better than those of last year. The same applies for the Destination Management Companies (DMCs) whose tour buses have been busy on the streets, carrying guests on island tours.
The tourist information offices on Mahé, Praslin and La Digue, which have been assisting guests either on the ships or on the ground to better plan their stop-over in Seychelles, have said they have been very busy whenever there have been ships anchored in Seychelles and on such days they have to work with full staff.
„Every time there is a cruise ship in port, we spend a maximum of four hours non-stop assisting only their clients, doing itineraries for them and arranging for them to visit different aspects of the island,“ said Christina Samson, head of the Victoria tourist office.
Ms Samson said that on very good days, they can sell up to 10,000 Euros worth of services, and these include island excursions, boat charters, taxi trips and island tours.
„Sometimes we get cruise ships whereby clients do not spend much and they would rather go for the simple services such as a few hours touring the island or short excursions in the marine parks, but on the other hand, we do get big spenders who would go for whole day boat charters, whole day excursions and whole day tours of the island and then the next day they come back for more activities,“ she said.
„Generally, prices are not really an issue but we do try to get good deals for them because they prefer activities which would allow them to discover and experience Seychelles,“ she continued, adding that they take great pleasure in serving such clients as they know that the local trade are benefiting from the business.
„We encourage them to spend and we know this money is rolling back into our economy, therefore we feel very proud of our contribution in that area.“
Dania Morel from the La Digue tourist office has also noted an increase in cruise ship clients disembarking on the island in the past months, saying „they come here in big groups and within minutes the office is packed“.
On such days, business is very good for bicycle operators, ox-carts operators as well as the few taxis on the islands.
„They rent out bicycles and ox-carts for a whole day to tour the island, others get the taxis to drop them off at the Anse Source D’Argent beach and then come back for them,“ she explained, adding that contrary to Mahé very few clients opt for sea excursions.
„La Digue is different to Mahé and I think this uniqueness appeals to them when they get here,“ she said.
On Praslin, cruise ship clients are attracted by the popular beaches and the World UNESCO site, Vallée de Mai.
„A lot of the cruise ship clients who come here want to go to the beaches or the Vallée de Mai,’ said Cindy Uzice, responsible for the two tourist offices on Praslin. „The come here with the knowledge that we have beautiful beaches and they want to see it for themselves, especially the Anse Lazio beach.
„They can either visit the Vallée de Mai in the morning then head for the beaches whereas others would just go straight to the beaches and their mode of transport can be the taxis or the public buses. The latter, they say, would allow them to better appreciate the way of life of the Seychellois people“.
The majority of ships call at Port Victoria whereas others stop over at different islands such as Praslin, La Digue, Silhouette, Desroches, Curieuse, Assumption, Aldabra, Poivre and Cousin.