SHTA LAMENTS LOSS OF TOURIST FLIGHT FROM RUSSIA
In a hard hitting statement, issued by the Chairman of the Seychelles Hotel and Tourism Association SHTA, has the private sector denounced the lack of permit for a planned air connection from Russia to Mahe. TransAero had applied for traffic rights to bring tourists on a nonstop flight from Russia to the archipelago, an initiative, according to an SHTA source fully supported by the private sector, only to see the application thrown out by the Ministry of Transport. A source wishing to remain anonymous had this to say: ‘… we have a lot of beds to fill, new resorts are coming on line and we were trying to get more visitors here from Russia. We consider this a poorly considered decision. If it was taken to protect Air Seychelles we do not know for certain right now, but we believe the case should be revisited immediately’.
SHTA chairman Louis D’Offay was also reported to have suggested that the Seychelles Tourist Board should have done more to support the initiative and then went on to demand that the portfolio of transport be transferred to the President and merged with the tourism portfolio, which is held directly by President Michel himself in recognition of the huge importance of the sector to the Seychelles economy. This surprised pundits and observers as it demonstrated that a potential fault line could develop between the private and public sector, which have jointly spearheaded the huge success the Seychelles have become over the past 30 months, since the restructuring of the Seychelles Tourist Board had started. No official comments are available as yet from the tourism board although a regular source added this overnight: ‘We welcome any initiative by the private sector to promote tourism and broadly support the Seychelles open skies policy for air access. We work hand in hand with our partners from the private sector and we will discuss this decision within government and with the private sector.’
Another source speculated openly over the influence of carriers from the Gulf like Emirates, Qatar and Ethihad, which by the end of the year will be offering as many as 25 flights per week and have convenient connections through their hubs to a wide range of destinations in Russia saying: ‘These airlines have been given unprecedented access to Seychelles. A few years ago this would not have been thinkable even. We in the tourism sector appreciate what they do for us in terms of promotions and that they have to fill their seats. But the TransAero flight would have tapped into a different market and could have brought travelers who would otherwise not have chosen to fly with other airlines to Mahe. I think in all fairness, this case should receive another consideration’.
Watch this space.