Tuesday, May 4, 2010

DEFENDING THE TOURISM INDUSTRY
THE MAIN PILLAR OF OUR ECONOMY

Exorbitant Entrance Fees:
Last week we took a look at the domestic sector. This problem is on everyone's lips and the Government of James Michel, if they are serious about listening to people, must know that everyone is complaining about the Air Seychelles Domestic operation. A wide cross section of people are concerned with these problems – the Praslin and La Digue inhabitants, the tourists and their tour operators, other Airlines flying to Seychelles, and the people of Mahe having to use this service to Praslin. Let us suppose that David, Francis or Glenny Savy owned that domestic airline, would it be losing money today? No it would not, so why is Air Seychelles Domestic allowed to be burdened by fat salaries to pay its Chairman and CEO and its expat clique?

As promised, this week we look at the Vallée de Mai and at the Anse Source D’Argent beach at L'Union Estate. Why do our visitors have to pay exorbitant prices to access these two sites?

Maurice Lalanne is the Chairman of STB, Chairman of SBC and also Chairman of the SIF Board managing the Vallée de Mai. He must be the one responsible to build the ugliest concrete structure at a nature park - with pillars reminding everyone of the Roman Coliseums- at a cost that has obliged SIF to increase the entrance fees to that national park to the point of making it prohibitive. We do not feed these trees, so there is hardly any cost apart from its upkeep. The couple of Seychellois cleaning this park would be shocked to know the total costs of administering the Vallée de Mai. Millions are collected and millions are spent (wasted), but it is not the Seychellois on Praslin who really benefit.

As Mr. Lalanne increases the entrance fees at the Vallée de Mai, he forgets the effect on the country's tourism industry (OF WHICH HE IS ALSO THE CHAIRMAN) and acts as if he has buried his head in the sand. Remember the champion of the infamous ‘gold card’ that got the trade both local and international up in arms? Can a man who heads the most important pillar of our economy be sincere and patriotic when he acts in this way? Where is the logic in increasing the fees to visit one of our country’s main assets to stop tourists from accessing that world wonder? Why has the elected representatives of the people (Praslin MNAs in particular) not raised this issue in the National Assembly?

Today everyone in the tourism industry is tipping his hat out to Michel Gardette & his team at the Praslin Development Fund, which has made Fond Ferdinand accessible for free. We recommend that the PDF charges €5 and get the tourism stakeholders to publicize the new garden. Be creative with souvenirs such as T-Shirts print Praslin Postcards and have a little shop at the entrance of the grounds. Build a small visitors’ kiosk with natural materials make it environmentally friendly, esthetic and attractive– not a massive concrete eyesore. Today, SIF and Lalanne are banking on of the visitors, brought to Seychelles by marketing activities paid for by Seychelles taxpayers by the same STB under his control. Our visitors are being taken for a ride and asked for too much money as an entrance fee. What are the effects of this entrance fee on the People of Praslin? Freelance Guides are suffering because they lose potential clients not wanting to pay this entrance fee. Taxis are suffering because they are losing that run to the Vallée de Mai as tourists say that the entrance fees are too high. Tour operators on Praslin are losing out because the excursions around Praslin with a stop at the Vallée de Mai are making the cost too expensive. Praslin Hotels are losing out as tourists shorten their stay on Praslin when they drop a day that would have taken them to the Vallée de Mai. The People of Praslin suffer because their natural asset, being administered by BIG FAT CATS from Mahe who are deciding what happens to their Praslin asset.

The Government must bring Praslin’s assets to be managed by the Praslinois. Let us not be shy or ashamed of going back to basics. Praslin residents will do everything to protect the assets of Praslin and they will use it to bring business to Praslin. The ball is now in the court of President Michel when we say on behalf of the People of Praslin that we rest our case.

Let us now move on to La Digue. Here the matter can be solved by a stroke of a pen if there is a will to do the right thing. The Government has preached over and over again that the beaches of Seychelles are all public. The STB has also said so over and over again, but is that truthful? Or is it a false statement?

After receiving calls and appeals from La Digue we investigated on this situation and the result that hit us in the face is that the statement that beaches in Seychelles are public and open to everyone is TOTALLY false. Access to Anse Source D'Argent is barred and tourists have to pay to get to that beach. How can any Minister ask Lémuria Resort at Praslin or Banyan Tree on Mahé to give access to the public when the Government of President Michel is itself charging an entrance fee to access Anse Source D'Argent on La Digue? Visitors on La Digue are complaining and the STB have been deaf to their complaints as they continue with their false advertising claiming that beaches in Seychelles are public.

Hotel owners on La Digue have also been complaining to no avail as their guests have to pay an access fee every time they want to get to Anse Source D'Argent. Here in contradiction to the Praslin situation this La Digue asset is being managed by Diguois but with clear instructions to make BIG money for the Mahe coffers. Is that progress or is that a step into the past where landowners dictated life in Seychelles? Have we but changed the land owner or administrator by government and returned to ground zero? Should we all be saying SHAME on the ones responsible for this sad state of affairs?

L'Union Estate has never been that uninviting to visitors. Even in the days of the Rassool and Hossen visitors would stroll through the estate and get to Anse Source D'Argent. With Mittermayer it was open to all to visit the beach, but now under the management of the Government of President James Michel a hefty entrance fee is payable to access the beach. Most visitors do not want to see the dead L'Union farm or estate, because there is nothing to see, the only attraction of L'Union Estate is its beach of Anse Source D'Argent. Please give just an access to the beach FREE and charge those who want to see the Burial Grounds of the Rassool Family or the old Cemetery of L'Union Estate, charge them to see the old ‘moulin’, the ‘calorifer’ etc when you can get it working, but PLEASE FOR THE SAKE OF SEYCHELLES STOP charging to get to the beach at Anse Source D'Argent.

The ruling from President Michel's Government to charge for the beach access is not only immoral, but it is going against the marketing efforts being undertaken by the STB to bring tourists to Seychelles.

Next week we shall be taking up the point raised by so many tourists and a claim supported by many a Seychellois on the two tier rates for transfers to Praslin by Air Seychelles and Cat Cocos. Air Seychelles is charging our visitors more for a 15- minute flight between Mahe and Praslin than the cost of flights between European Cities. We can appreciate that the European Airlines do not have a Mauritian CEO & wife running their airlines, but they are running it themselves and as such their overhead charges are much less that what Air Seychelles is faced with.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

The price paid by visitors to enter Vallay de Mai is acceptable due to the importance of this unique place, it must an exemption.As to Source d'Argent at la Digue there is not need for Vsitors to pay such exorbitance price.
The latter is an illegal act by PP to accumulate exact dollars for themselves.

Leave the revunues of our assets to to its owners PP namely,Praslinois, in order that we can use the money to protect our already destroyed environment .

Jeanne D'Arc

Anonymous said...

This is the real situation on Praslin adn La Digue. Maurice Lalane should be sacked because he is the primary problem in tourism today. Why is he still on the board of SIF when there are many other qualified individuals? Why is Claude Pavard, Lalane's buddy a Seychellois citizen today, let alone be on the board of SIF. Every year Pavard and Lalane gets free trips to the islands paid by seychellois taxpapers and Pavard makes movies and books and then sells them and make money. Where is the money? What's worng with real Seychellois being board members? Why dont' they rotate those board members. Lalane should be sent packing. Recently, he has build a road next to his house at Fairview and while there is no bitumen in seychelles to patch up our roads, Lalane somehow got the Government department to pave his new road.Who authorise this and who paid for it? Morgan shoudl answer the people. As for La digue, the peopel working at the gate at l'Union are pocketing most of the cash they collect. I have seen it with my own eyes. This is deplorable and the tourists are being robbed byt his Goverment. Time to cahnge the system and put order in our country. Also, why can't prisioners be used to clean up marine parks, vallee de mai, the roads, clear trees and cut grass along the roads of Mahe & praslin? Why do we need to pay? If prisoners were used, they could earn a paycheck whcih could help pay back their victims or they can use the money when they get out of prison.

Anonymous said...

Agree wholeheartedly with this article. Air Seychelles domestic under Savy is a joke. Vallee de Mai and l'Union Estate fees are jokes and clients are being robbed. Imagine going to the beach for 7 days and having to pay a fee every day? Where is the logic? Maurice Lalanne and his predecessor Francis Savy have destroyed Seychelles tourism. St. Ange is a breath of fresh air but he is being held back by Michel, Lalanne and SPPF red tape.

The only way for tourism to get better in this country is if we get rid of these monkeys who have been around for so long that they believe they know what is best for our country. I am a black man and do not consider myself racist, but note that Michel thinks he is white, Joel Morgan and Lalanne are grand blanc, and so is Jean-Paul Adam. They seem to be running the Seychelles Show today. And doing a very bad job too. Time for a real change of leadership in our country.

Anonymous said...

Here is my tourist experience of the day...

Where I come from if I was to say "Hello Mrs" or "Hello Lady" to some unknown woman older or younger than me, people would think a) I have been smoking crack, b) I am mentally disturbed or/and c) I was pulling the proverbial piss and being disrespectful.

So today when I was trying to be polite and entered the rather unsanitised but useful nonetheless toilets near the main taxi stand in Victoria - please forgive me for being shocked at what I experienced (in "customer service" - the facilities are shocking enough in themselves!).

I greeted the Lady working there with "Bonjour" and I hoped eagerly to part with the 2 ruppee in my outstretched hand to use the facilities. She proceeded to yell "Madame! Madame! Madame!". As there was a gentleman standing by her laughing, at first I thought she was talking to him, afterall I have grown use to being ignored as I enter shops or even these particular toilets, despite my desire to build a relationship with the people who work there. The fact that this Lady was looking me in the eye while yelling and stamping her feet - confused me and seemed to discredit my theory that this was directed at the man near her. Did I have a spider on my head? Clearly not as then, in disgust at me for not understanding what she was on about - she walked off and obviously insulted me in Creole.

It has taken me 12 hours of contemplation but I think I understand what happened.

To all Seychellois - I am so sorry. I am not as lucky as you to have had the opportunity to learn a minimum of three languages. I wish I had been. So please, I am trying to learn so that I can communicate with you, but I will make mistakes. Please, sometimes give me the benefit of the doubt.

To the Lady in the Loo - you made me sob. One thing is for sure that I will not ever just say "Bonjour" again - unless I also add the words Madame or Monsieur.

I never intend to be disrespectful.

Anonymous said...

The pricing practice in Seychelles contradicting to what we want to be known as, i.e a society where discrimination is non existent. Then again, it is highly existent as the flogging og tourists' wallets has been practiced for quite a while now.

I recall well the time I came to Seychelles together with 3 friends who had pictured Seychelles as the paradise shown in magazines and wanted to experience it at clse so they joined me home for a vacation to see my land of birth. The embarassments were plenty ranging from the heavily littered roads and forests, exhorbitant prices and not least the unfair treatment of tourists, the coutry's then daily bread and main industry, where they being my guests had to pay more than double of what I would have to pay for a ferry trip to Praslin and that in Forex when I could pay in SR. Botanical Gardens was the same story as I could get in for free whilst they had to pay in Forex. Being young at the time and not having that kind of money none of us could enjoy those sites. All this due to the desperation of Rene so that he could skim the banks and fill his poickets and at the same time save face after screwing up the economy for 2 decades(this was back in the 90s).

I could do nothing else but explain to my guests what situation the country was ion and not least how it ended up there. I remember one saying that the pdifference in pricing would drive tourists away from revisiting. I stopped bringing friends over after that visit, but did so again some 6-7 years later thinking things had gotten better. They had not, in fact it was worse.

Today, when people ask me advise about Seychelles as a holiday location I state things the way they are telling them how things work and what to expect of good and bad. Most of them come back a few weeks later to tell that they've just booked a trip to Mauritius.....! And those who did book the trip to Seychelles, well their experience usually is 'beautiful place, but way to expensive. And why are there literally no locals working in the big hotels? And why is the place so littered?'

What can one say then?

Patrick X

Lavwa Seychelles said...

On LAVWA Seychelles today see the following link:

Talking Points - Recovery of Stolen Seselwa Rasin Patrimony

http://lavwa-seychelles.blogspot.com/2010/05/talking-points-recovery-of-stolen.htm

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