Seychelles Honours 8 Pioneers of Tourism, Some With Stories Decades Deep

Eight Seychellois who have made tremendous contributions in the island nation's tourism industry were honoured on Monday at the Seychelles Tourism Pioneer Park.

Located at the entrance of the Seychelles Tourism Academy (STA) at La Misere, the park was opened in 2015 by former President James Michel to honour Seychellois who have dedicated their lives to the country's tourism industry. The location is also significant as it is where young people interested in the field are trained.

Engraved on ceramic tiles displayed on concrete pillars at the park, the names of the fifth batch of pioneers were revealed during a short ceremony that brought together key figures in tourism, representatives and relatives of the pioneers. The unveiling of the plaque was the first activity lined up for the third edition of the Tourism Festival in Seychelles.

Daniel Payet, Frank and Elodia Payet, Jessie and Carl Collie, Norman Medhurst Esslemont, David Joubert, Guy Sinon, William Woodcock and Julien Parcou were honoured for either setting up a tourism establishment or related services

"The tourism week that we celebrate every year is a time when we take a glance in the rear mirror so as to understand the history of how tourism -- which has become today our biggest and most important economic activity -- started," said the tourism minister, Didier Dogley.

"There is no other way of understanding it than understanding the history and story of those who were there at the beginning, the pioneers who started setting up and developing the tourism industry," he continued.

Some of the pioneers honoured have paved the path for their sons, daughters, and grandchildren who have continued working in the industry.

"My father started tourism on Praslin, La Digue and surrounding islands. At that time, there weren't many roads and he started with a motorbike. Also, back then, there wasn't an airport on Praslin, hence he started with the first cruise ship that went to Praslin," said Daniella Payet-Alis, daughter of Daniel Payet.

Payet-Allis' father opened the Britannia restaurant in 1963 which was extended to include four rooms in the early 1970s. In 1972 he opened Dan Payet Tours where he worked closely with his daughter, Daniella who would conduct tours for and with him. Daniella is the founder of the Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Foundation (SSTF) which strives to make Seychelles an international best practice example for sustainable tourism, and the secretary of the Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association (SHTA).

Two other local hoteliers -- Frank and Elodia Payet -- started their guesthouse Rose Cottage at Pointe aux Sel in 1969 and later moved to Praslin to establish Le Duc de Praslin at Côte D'Or.

Their son, Robert Payet, who is today the owner of the establishment on Praslin, told SNA that he is "happy that they have been honoured for the hard work they did and for the foundation they built for me."

He asked the youth of Seychelles to persevere in the industry as it takes time to reach a high-level position in tourism.

"There are very few Seychellois who are general managers in hotels in Seychelles. Most of them are foreigners and this is quite a shame. There is prospect and hope, however we need to take the time to get to where we want. It is a sector that requires time to get the necessary experience to attain certain positions," said Robert Payet.

Tourism is the top economic contributor for Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean.

More From: Seychelles News Agency

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