Saturday, 9 May 2015

Industry News: Visitor Arrivals

Is 2015 set for record visitor numbers?

The first few months of the year have seen arrivals bounce back nicely after a tough 2014. As the Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association’s Kate Carolus explained in last week’s Big Interview, arrival numbers are not the only measure of success for the Seychelles tourism economy, yet the latest ones show an encouraging trend.

More people have visited Seychelles in 2015 so far than at the same point in any previous year. With 88 237 visitors registered by the week ending 26 April, Seychelles has received 13% more visitors than it had done this time last year, and 15% more than in 2013.

Most notably, the European market has boosted total numbers with nearly a third more visitors from UK and Eire (1 095 or a 32% increase) and 10% more from France (1 597). The increase for the UK and Eire continues their year-on-year increases while France’s numbers promise to arrest their slide having fallen some nine per cent between 2013 and 2014. Similarly Reunion Island’s visitor numbers (classified separately from France’s and somewhat confusingly listed by the National Bureau of Statistics as part of African breakdowns) have bounced back and are up nearly fourfold.

However Germany’s numbers have gone in the other direction, having increased between 2013 and 2014 they appear to be on the wane slightly in 2015, down 4% (505 visitors). More worryingly, but unsurprisingly given the rouble’s recent troubles, 2015 has seen far fewer Russian visitors than last year (down by 1 366 visitors, or 22%).

Outside of Europe notable increases have come for the United Arab Emirates (up 1 961 or 55%) and, perhaps due to President Modi’s recent visit to Seychelles, India’s numbers are up by nearly half (897 visitors or 48%). However, China’s seemingly irresistible annual increases appear to be slowing somewhat. Having increased 72% between 2013 and 2014 China’s year-to-date figures only represent a modest 3% increase.

Finally, visitors are taking a variety of transport methods to reach the country this year. More than 2 000 visitors have come to Seychelles using a private plane with numbers increasing significantly since mid-March, while just over 1 600 have taken a chartered plane including April’s large arrival from Israel. Although government has plenty of room for improvement before Victoria becomes the “cruise ship capital” as Wednesday’s TODAY explored, given that fewer than 500 visitors (excluding day trippers) have come to Seychelles so far in 2015.

So the story so far is looking very positive, and perhaps Minister St. Ange’s tourist cap might be required sooner than otherwise thought. It now remains to be seen if these trends continue, and as the SHTA has said, if these are the “right” tourists for Seychelles.

[This article originally appeared in Today in Seychelles newspaper, to view it in its original format, click here.]

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