Seychelles drums up momentum in Greater China

SEYCHELLES’ tourism players are stepping up efforts to court Chinese travellers, following the announcement earlier this month of a new Air Seychelles thrice-weekly connection between Seychelles and Hong Kong from February 2013.

Last week, Air Seychelles and Seychelles Tourism Board (STB) held the first jointly organised workshop in Hong Kong, bringing together nearly 80 local travel consultants and nine inbound operators from the Seychelles.

Tour operator Select-Seychelles is intending to open the market by introducing the first-ever B2B platform in January 2013, offering products from land arrangement to hotels. A B2C model is also being considered.

STB CEO, Elsia Grandcourt, said the country was eyeing Chinese high-end FITs and MICE, and is looking to establish its presence in Hong Kong. It has already said it will open another office in Shanghai, adding to its existing office in Beijing.

She said: “Unlike our core markets from Europe who enjoy beaches and sunshine, the Chinese tend to enjoy more activities. That’s why we are developing various choices (of activities), from diving, hiking, fishing and golf.”

Cramer Ball, CEO of Air Seychelles, said the new flight would enable passengers to continue their journey on the same airplane after a one-and-half-hour stop in Abu Dhabi to refuel. “Leaving Hong Kong at 18.00, (the flight) arrives in Seychelles at 07.00, while return flights depart at 15.30 and reach Hong Kong at 08.00. Such convenient timings facilitate easy transit traffic to China and other Asian destinations,” he said.

The Walshe Group has been appointed the airline’s GSA for Hong Kong and Macau, though it is still looking for a groundhandling agent. The company is also in talks with Cathay Pacific Airways and Hong Kong Airlines for connecting flights and discount packages.

Bookings, however, are not available at the moment though Air Seychelles has already received approval for the timeslots.

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