Africa tourism

‘We have a story to tell’: There’s more to the Seychelles than white sand beaches

The East African country, known for its tropical vegetation and powdery white sand, is an idyllic location for a typical beach holiday.

However, Seychelles’ new tourism promotion plan aims to offer more than the usual resort package.

According to David Germain, Seychelles’ regional director of tourism for Africa and the Americas, the new government wants to diversify the tourism industry and attract international travelers with indigenous cultural experiences.

“We have a story to tell visitors. Seychelles is not just about beaches, so we shy away from promoting the country’s natural beauty. To add value to experiences, we add culture,” reveals Germain.

Seychelles recorded more than 120 international tourist visits in 2020. Mahe-based travel agent Amy Michel of Mason’s Travel expresses optimism about the development of niche cultural fusions.

“Seychelles has 115 islands and each island has a different feel and something new to see, such as the diverse culture. It’s a destination people book three to six months in advance to experience more than the beaches” , she says.

Seychelles’ tourism economy is the main source of income for the island’s 90,000 inhabitants. The majority of the population is of Creole origin.

To support the development of cultural tourism, the Seychelles National Institute for Culture, Heritage and the Arts has received over $70,000 (€64,000) in funding in 2021 from the UNESCO International Fund for Cultural Diversity . The money will be used to conduct research into the viability of shifting to a culture-based economy.

Foreign Affairs and Tourism Minister Louis Sylvestre Radegonde has formed a committee to develop strategies that will capitalize on culture.

“I am determined to support the recovery of tourism in Seychelles. More than ever, the tourism industry in Seychelles will operate in a competitive environment,” he said.

“My aim, therefore, is to apply a new perspective on tourism development with a strong emphasis on quality products that reflect value for money. The need to reassess product and pricing strategies will be key to the development and the successful progression of tourism.”