The tourism industry is critical to the future development and sustainability of the Seychelles economy. Tourists come from across the globe to enjoy the island’s glorious coral beaches, view the amazing wildlife, and participate in a range of watersports. Today, around 15% of people are directly employed through the tourism industry and the sector needs to continue attracting tourists if this is to be maintained in the future.
The development of tourism
The start of the main tourism industry in the Seychelles began in the 1970s when the main international airport opened. Since then it has continued to increase, with visitors from across the world seeing it as a first class, luxury destination.
By 2012, visitor numbers had reached a record high, which was helped by investments in marketing campaigns and the opening up of more direct air links to the islands. Today, more airlines than ever are flying here, and there has been an increase in the number of tourists from new markets, such as the Middle East and China.
The attraction of the Seychelles
One of the main attractions of these islands is undoubtedly the many beaches that are dotted around the vast coastline. These feature shallow and clear waters, which make them perfect for bathing and snorkeling. The long stretches of sandy beaches go for miles, meaning there’s always somewhere new to explore.
Apart from the beaches, there are also other attractions for visitors to the islands. There are many nature reserves across the Seychelles, and Aride Island has one of the most valuable and unique reserves in the world.
The islands have a number of interesting national monuments, including the Granite Boulder on La Digue. This amazing natural site covers an acre of the island and dates back about 750 million years. The Seychelles National Botanical Gardens is on the island of Mahé. It has existed for over a century, making it one of the oldest national monuments on the islands.
The future of tourism
Any future development of the tourism industry needs to be in line with the maintenance of the island’s natural habitats. The size of the islands means that they can only accommodate a set number of visitors if the existing landscapes are to remain in their current state.
The future of the tourist sector in the Seychelles will see the islands marketed as an affordable vacation destination, helping to distinguish it from other similar locations. They will need to showcase the range of accommodation styles that are available, away from purely being a haunt of those who can afford luxury. However, keeping up with the luxury market will also be important, with the launch of resorts such as the luxury Seychelles resort backed by Mukesh Valabhji. Valabhji is a native of the Seychelles, and has long been involved in promoting the island’s business interests.
Attracting new markets will be crucial for the future of the industry. In 2012, visitor numbers from China rose by 96%. The growth in flights from Middle Eastern hubs will also be a critical component in the development of the tourism sector. However, the majority of tourists are still from Europe, which accounted for 56% of the total in 2012.