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The Futuristic Seychelles

The Futuristic Seychelles
July 18
15:12 2014

Direct flights to and from Victoria, capital of Seychelles, says it all about international tourism. London, Paris and Rome, Milan, Frankfurt and Dubai and more are all connected and everybody, as many as 174,529 tourists in 2010, wants to get a glimpse of the unspoiled paradise of 115 islands tucked away in the recesses of the Western Indian Ocean! The profundity of the farfetched islands compares with the flights to witness the Himalayan frozen peaks!

Ranking first in Human Development in Africa, Seychelles’ GDP growth would probably surge beyond 3.5% in 2014 and 2015 due to a 10% rise in tourist numbers. Asia, Eastern Europe and Africa are the new tourist markets besides Europe. Small Island Developing States (SIDS) would develop a post 2015 agenda after having successfully achieved economic stabilization and public sector restructuring programs.

Tourism Expansion

Since the Victoria international airport opened up in 1971, tourism has dramatically echoed through the silent islands bringing curious visitors to investigate the ultimate mysteries. The flora and fauna that had developed in undisturbed isolation for centuries now beckons with messages of hope and peace. Yet the authorities are never satisfied and expansion of tourist facilities is now in the offing with the planned construction of a new terminal to accommodate more tourists. Hotels and resorts too would have to be upgraded and new constructions made to provide additional accommodation. If local investment is not forthcoming in a tiny nation of 90,000, foreign investments would be deemed necessary for more professional services. Labor is scarce too and Indian, Malaysian and Bangladeshi labor fill up the void gleefully. In any case it may not be wise to aim for more than 300,000 tourists each year. Seychelles has certainly learnt tourism lessons from not too distant neighbors Malaysia and Singapore that take in vast tourist populations without any apparent harm to the local culture, yet raking in tremendous foreign exchange to swell the national coffers.

Dangers of Tourism

Small island economies are subject to vulnerabilities! Air Seychelles becoming bankrupt initially raised irrational fears besides the economic crisis that loomed in 2008. Etihad invested in Air Seychelles and the result was more tourists from China and Russia compared to Europeans previously. However, the local operators feel comfortable with the British and French because they are adept at both languages.

The piracy and hostage taking indulged in by Somalia not so far away also proves detrimental to the reputation of tourism facilities. It seems that Seychelles would have to reduce dependence upon tourism as the main industry in view of global and climatic problems that may arise. Vulnerabilities need to be rectified before they become major issues.

Boosting Fisheries

It would be appropriate to place fisheries alongside tourism as they constitute the vast bulk of Seychelles’ revenue generating potential. The vast fishing grounds too like tourism exploit nature’s blessings for the sake of uplifting the country’s financial resources and providing a better standard of life for its people in terms of health, education and housing.

Since the beginning of its existence, Seychelles has depended heavily upon the rich tuna fishing located amidst the migratory routes. Later came the industrial fishing fleets of Asia and the European Union. The tuna not only supplies local consumption but is exported worldwide. Tuna and swordfish packaging and supply abroad are the ventures the Seychellois are looking for in the form of foreign investments. Joint partnerships would push the fishery markets further and make the industry sustainable through the decades of the future.

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Sustaining The Environment

Like with several other coastal areas like Bangladesh, the worry pertains to the low lying regions that are vulnerable to submersion in the gradually rising sea. Such a risen sea level rise would adversely affect the biodiversity of the region and the manufacturing and trading enterprises that flourish in the area.

What is the Seychelles like? The republic comprises 115 islands that occupy 1.3 million square kilometers of the Indian Ocean. The land area extends to 452 square kilometers consisting of 41 high granitic and 74 coralline islands. The high granite rises 3000 feet and the dangers of landslides exist. The coast extends across 747 km amidst a tropical climate with expansive rainfall. The 29 square kilometers of mangrove along the coast comprise 7 species between the land and the sea. Mangrove protects the shore against erosion by waves and trap land erosion sediment. Mangroves also protect coral reefs and sea grasses.

Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) in Seychelles would assume an important role in protecting fragile eco-systems in the coastal areas where almost all economic activity is located. Seychelles has placed about 45% of the land under protection status. Some areas impose entrance fees, money that is used to protect the natural biodiversity. Cousin Island Special Reserve and Vallée de Mai are examples of such protection. United Nations Development Program guides the conservation activities along with Non-Governmental Organizations and the Seychelles National Coordinating Body.

The Wetlands Defense

The restoration of mangroves and reef beds in 2013 has formed a wall of protection against possible flooding dangers. How does it work? The wetlands serve as a container of water during the rains and then slowly release the water, thereby protecting against sudden upsurges of flooding during rains. If wetlands are maintained, roads and the town would not undergo flooding. Mangrove thickets are also encouraged during the conservation process and birds like the heron and migratory birds frequent the sanctuary.

Partnership With China

China is the growing mega dragon of the present and the future. As a result of an age old understanding with China, Seychelles is keen to work with the Chinese as partners in their development. Moreover, Seychelles believes it could become the bridge between China and Africa, facilitating trade in both directions. A direct flight with China could work magic by bringing Chinese investors knocking at the door to lucrative tourism and fishing investments. The two industries after all form the bulk of business in Seychelles and have become mainstays of the economy. Besides the five star facilities for tourists, the development of four star hotels would cater to the middle classes. Fisheries require processing and canning facilities.

Yet the concern is that investments should be extending to other areas beyond the two major businesses like in agriculture, health and education. The double taxation policy being avoided, there would be no such concerns. Now that Seychelles is opening up after centuries of isolation by joining COMESA and SADC, vast markets have opened up for Chinese investors. The future seems quite rosy for Seychelles amidst the winds and the waves in the remote ocean.

The Futuristic Seychelles - overview
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Articles on the Jadenforex blog written by "Jadenforex" include guest posts, and items written in collaboration with several authors.

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