New regulations are expected to be put in place for foreign artists who will be performing in Seychelles, though professionals in the industry feared the changes could deter artists from visiting.
The Creative Industries and National Events Agency (CINEA) said that it will be working with different authorities to draft these new procedures and regulations, including a proposed tax.
Chief executive Gaellen Bresson said that all foreign performers will now have to send an application to the agency before their upcoming performance in the islands.
"They will have to apply to us in writing and they will need to tell us why they are coming to the islands, where they will be performing, who is their local contact or agent, where they will be staying as well as providing us with their full itinerary. We will need all these details," Bresson said.
Bresson added that if the artists are staying more than a month they will also need to do a medical test. "We will need to treat these people as we treat other expatriate workers because, at the end of the day, these artists are from a money-making industry. After all, when they come to Seychelles they are earning a living."
Bresson said that with this new measures, the country will be able to collect more revenue from performing artists and bands as for now they are only paying for their gainful occupation permit (GOP).
He explained that this is standard in most countries. "We went to Mauritius recently and we had to pay our gainful occupation permit, we had to pay the municipality where we were performing as well as for other services such as for fees for putting up banners and posters."
The chief executive said a tax for an international artist is the way forward. In recent years there has been an increase in the number of visiting performers. Sinach, Kenyatta Hill, Andrew Tosh, Nyanda, Charlie Black, Inner Circle, Kymani Marley among others recently performed in Seychelles - an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.
SNA talked to Basil Bouchereau and Elijah who have been involved in bringing foreign performers to the island nation. Both feel that the new regulations including the new tax will have a negative impact on efforts to diversify entertainment in a country where people are thirsty for such.
"We feel that the agency should do more consultations and weigh in all the pros and cons before they implement such measures. A lot of people think that when artists come here they make a lot of money, but this is not the case, because of the size of our population. Yes they can make millions but not here," said Bouchereau.
The promoter added that it costs to bring in these artists and this can only happen with the support of sponsors.
"We are killing the industry," said Elijah. "We bring in these people, because we are happy to do so and because we feel we are doing something to bring in much-needed entertainment to the islands. So we keep the city alive and moreover, we give the chance to others to make a living."
Elijah explained that with such shows people selling food, drinks and other artifacts also benefit.
He added that the majority of Seychellois do not get the chance to see those artists when they perform because this will mean travelling, accommodation and other expenses. So these artists are brought in for the mass to enjoy.
"Even with tickets, we have to sell at a reasonable cost to attract more people, so no there is no big profit there."
But some local performers have welcomed these new regulations like Berno Cedras owner of L'Echo band. "I think it was high time for a decision like this, these people come here they make a profit and then leave."
Cedras said nothing is left for the country as it is only the promoter and the artist who benefit. He also thinks that a license and a tax for local artists is necessary.
"I think the industry needs to be regulated, because we make a lot of expenses with equipment and transport among others, if we pay tax it would benefit us as we can get tax returns and improve other aspects of our work.
Elijah thinks this will only benefit a few performers with contracts with tourism establishments. "For us artists, writing our songs, composing music and trying to put gigs together, it's a daily struggle and a tax will only add burden on us."