Small Islands Voice Global Forum
Letís rethink our tourism strategy
We would like to thank everyone who has responded to the debate on public access to beaches. The full contributions together with a short summary of the discussion will be available by 1st March 2003 on the website at http://www.unesco.org/csi/smis/siv/Forum/keyissues.htm
We now move onto a new article about the choices Seychelles faces in developing its tourism strategy.
I would like to raise an interesting point with regards to the type of tourism that would suit our islands. I for one believe that the current tourism policy in Seychelles, which is pitched at the higher end of the market, is short-sighted and misguided. Having said that, the overcrowded Spanish-type resorts seen in Europe and elsewhere, should be discouraged. We ought to encourage tourism which not only benefits the large industries and corporations but one where the benefits will also cascade to other small businesses around such as guesthouses, local shops, taxis, restaurants, etc.
Looking at the structure of the current tourism industry, I am inclined to think that many of the proceeds, particularly of the large tourism resorts, don't even make it to our shores.
As an example, let us look at St. Anne. Here we have a large island, close to the main island of Mahe that could have been developed to provide homes for a new community of about one hundred families of Seychellois. This would have released some of the pressure on trying to find suitable building land on Mahe. Here the nature of the underlying rock and the steep slopes restrict construction so that in several areas large dredging projects have been undertaken in order to reclaim land from the sea for housing and other development. Such a housing project on St. Anne would also have created a local economy for goods and services. In the midst of this community, small tourism establishments could have been accommodated providing jobs for the inhabitants. Instead of all these possible benefits, the bulk of this large island is tied up for the next 99 years because St. Anne now has a hotel owned by a large foreign company.
The benefit of this resort to the local economy will be minimal. Guests will be collected from the airport to a specially built pier somewhere on the east coast of Mahe and then transported to St. Anne where they are likely to spend their two weeks happily lazing on the beach which is only a few yards away. They are hardly likely to use a taxi or indeed hire a car, let alone eat out in a small Creole restaurant in the evening. The sole beneficiaries of this venture will be the resort owners and their associates.
If long-term tourism policy is to be successful, we in Seychelles need to re think our strategy. Building large five-star establishments on the beachfront, owned by large foreign corporations is not the way forward. Personally I am against more of our beachfronts being utilised to accommodate large resorts. I believe the investments in tourism should come from within. The government has the opportunity to team up with the banks and help finance and underwrite smaller and locally driven tourism projects. In my view, the smaller projects will have a less destructive impact on our environment and will also spread the benefits of tourism to all parts of the country thus giving rise to a local supply and demand chain, a vital ingredient for job creation.
Article adapted from a posting by Zomlib on ANNOUKOZESESEL
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