Proud of the paradise allocated to them by destiny, the Seychellois are eager to share the natural beauty of the country’s 115 sparkling islands with travelers. But they are ever-aware of the delicacy of the archipelago’s environment, meaning tourism activities and conservation need to go hand in hand to ensure this Eden remains a sustainable one
Tourism is the lifeblood of the Seychelles economy, accounting for around 26 percent of GDP and rising. But Didier Dogley, Seychelles’ minister of tourism, civil aviation, ports and marine, says that growth must be in harmony with the natural environment. “People don’t want to come here and find it crowded.”
The government’s vision is to tap into the islands’ unique essence and character in a sustainable manner. Sixty percent of the 6,000 beds available are in small, family-run hotels. “For me, that is where you discover the true creole flavor, indulge yourselves in the local cuisine and get a better understanding of the culture. My job is to work with the industry to create a model that can be an example to the world in which we will set new standards of quality by focusing on our unique hospitality,” Dogley says.
Long known as a honeymooner destination, Seychelles is broadening its appeal, leveraging nature to develop ecotourism and offering a growing number of activities from reef diving to golf. Eden Island is an example of diversification, the country’s first marina development with 580 luxury housing units built on reclaimed land off Mahé Island that accounts for 20 percent of all FDI into Seychelles even though most units have been sold.
“Compared to other Indian Ocean holiday destinations, Seychelles beats everything else hands down,” says Peter Smith, Eden Island Development Company’s head of sales and marketing. “The last Eden on Earth is an accurate description.”