The increase in tourism arrivals, the operation of Air France in Seychelles instead of sister airline Joon and the expansion plan for Port Victoria were among the topics highlighted by the Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine in a press conference on Wednesday.
The conference was the first in a series the minister, Didier Dogley, is expected to hold this year in which he is expected to give details about works being done within his ministry.
Dogley said that in general, the tourism arrival figures are quite good.
A total of 110,009 visitors have arrived in Seychelles, a 115-island archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, since the beginning of 2019 to date. Compared to the same period last year, the island nation has seen a 10 percent increase in visitor arrivals.
"There has been significant growth and the figures we are getting include the cruise ships that are coming in on charters through the airport. Usually, they (visitors) come by boat but when they come via plane, it is a plus as there are other costs that come into play, meaning they contribute more to the economy of the country," said Dogley.
According to statistics from the Central Bank of Seychelles, there has been an estimated increase of $1 million in terms of tourism earning for the first quarter of the year.
The minister added that the tourism department is finalising the Tourism Development Act which will ensure that the functions of the department are guided by law. These functions are legally still the responsibility of the Seychelles Tourism Board.
Addressing concerns about the shutdown of Joon as an airline, Dogley said that "Air France has confirmed that they will be flying to Seychelles on a three-times per week schedule instead of Joon."
"Unfortunately, the airline won't be coming during summer but will resume services in October this year. With Air France itself flying to Seychelles, we see that as a big plus for Seychelles as it is an established airline," he said.
Answering a question about Air Mauritius flying to the Seychelles, the minister explained that there is no confirmation that the airline will be operating in Seychelles, even though representatives of the airline have held talks with the local aviation authority.
In regards to the progress of projects of the civil aviation sector, it was pointed out that work being carried out on the domestic airport is almost completed. More services are now available at the airport, especially when it came to catering. It was added that there are plans to improve the departure lounge and the carpark area.
The chief operation officer of the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA), Wilfred Fock Tave, said that there is a plan to introduce a pay parking system at the airport once work on the parking area is completed.
"This is a common norm in many countries. There will be an area for taxis and car hire, however, car hire operators won't be able to use the space to stockpile their vehicles," said Fock Tave.
Ports and Marine
Dogley informed the press that the company contracted to work on the expansion of the Mahe quay was in the country recently where they carried out consultations with different partners.
"We are expecting them back in the country towards the end of the year with a plan. Early next year, we are expecting the plan to have been finalised so that it can be presented to the government," said Dogley.
He added that work being carried out at the Bel Ombre jetty where the plan was to have an area for fishing and another for leisure, is completed. On Praslin and La Digue, work on the passenger terminal has started.