'We have a story to tell': There's more to the Seychelles than white sand beaches

Seychelles, East Africa
Seychelles, East Africa   -   Copyright  Canva
By Wandiswa Ntengento

The East African country, known for its tropical vegetation and powder white sands is an idyllic location for a typical beach holiday.

However, Seychelles' new tourism promotion plan aims to offer more than the usual holiday resort package.

According to David Germain, Seychelles Tourism Regional Director for Africa and the Americas, the new government wants to diversify the tourism industry and entice international travellers with indigenous cultural experiences.

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Jungle ecosystem in the SeychellesCanva

“We have a story to tell visitors. Seychelles is not only about beaches so we are moving away from promoting only the natural beauty of the country. To add value to experiences, we are adding culture,” reveals Germain.

The Seychelles recorded over 120 international tourist visits in 2020. Mahé based travel agent, Amy Michel from Mason’s Travel expresses optimism over the development of niche cultural fusions.

“Seychelles has 115 islands and every island has a different feel and something new to see, such as the diverse culture. It is a destination that people book three to six months in advance to experience more than beaches,” she says.

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A large tortoise being fed in the SeychellesCanva

The Seychelles tourism economy is the main income provider for the island's 90,000 people. The majority of the population are of Creole descent.

Seychelles has 115 islands and every island has a different feel and something new to see
Amy Michel
Mason's Travel

In support of building cultural tourism, the Seychelles National Institute for Culture, Heritage and the Arts received over $70,000 (€64,000) in funding in 2021 from UNESCO’s international Fund for Cultural Diversity. The money will be used to conduct research on the viability of shifting to a culture based economy.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Tourism, Louis Sylvestre Radegonde, has formed a committee to develop strategies that will capitalise on culture.

“I stand determined in supporting the recovery of tourism in Seychelles. More than ever, the tourism industry in Seychelles will be operating within a competitive environment," he stated.

"It is my aim therefore to apply a new perspective on tourism development with strong emphasis placed on quality products that reflect value for money. The need to re-evaluate product and pricing strategies will be core to the successful development and progression of tourism."