A moratorium on the construction of new tourism accommodations and change of use, which is currently in effect on Seychelles' third-most populated island - La Digue - has been extended to December 2023.
The decision was taken by the Cabinet of Ministers on Wednesday after it was briefed on the status of La Digue in regard to the moratorium imposed on the development of accommodation establishments, including change of use applications.
An extension on the moratorium will allow the Department of Tourism with the necessary time to make informed decisions on the way forward based on the recommendations of the Accommodation Establishment Strategic Development Plan, which will guide sustainable tourism accommodation development in La Digue.
"There is a need to extend the moratorium until 2023 because the department has realised that during the implementation of the moratorium, not all the facilities have been put up to par... Infrastructure-wise, the island will not be able to cater for more development should the moratorium be lifted," the Department of Tourism relayed.
The moratorium came into force on August 1, 2021, as part of recommendations brought forward after a carrying capacity study was carried out for La Digue from 2019 to 2021.
Over the past 20 years, the island has seen rapid development with a one-sided focus on accommodation and limited investment in activities that promote visitor experience. The increase in the number of tourists, aside from improving the quality of life of residents, also increased pressure on infrastructures.
Results from the carrying capacity study that came out in 2021 also identified these pressures as deficient utility services, lack of proper waste management system, and the landfill operating at capacity.
As part of the Carrying Capacity Study for La Digue completed in February 2021, the Department of Tourism conducted a series of consultative meetings with businesses and relevant partners in November 2022 with particular attention to the sustainable growth of tourism on the island.
The Principal Secretary for Tourism, Sherin Francis, explained that reopening the growth of rooms on La Digue needs to be done carefully with a clear roadmap and it has to be a model which is sustainable for the island.
During the meeting, participants were informed about the proposed extension of the moratorium on room development on the island until next year. The extension is to allow a proper Accommodation Establishment Development Strategic Plan to be completed with due consideration of the effects on environmental sustainability, socio-economic implications, and other market opportunities.