Abu Dhabi to build new airport in Seychelles

Posted in Business and Economy, Seychelles government, Seychelles infrastructure, Tourism industry at 10:42 am by Robert Klien

Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC) is close to finalising the investment into building a new airport in the Seychelles capital, according to Seychelles president James Alix Michel.

He said that the negotiations with ADAC to construct a new airport in Victoria near the existing airport are in the process and it is expected to reach agreement on this important economic and tourism project on an investment basis soon. The president expressed his expectations that this project could largely boost airport traffic and the number of tourists to our country.

The Seychelles and Abu Dhabi have a close relationship, with the latter providing $55 million in financial aid in the past decade and Etihad Airways bought a 40% stake in state carrier Air Seychelles in 2012, which has helped the airline to record profits for the past 3 years.

The country also is working with Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala in the oil sector, along with other companies from Japan, Australia and Latin America, and the UAE’s Masdar recently launched a wind energy unit in Victoria port with a capacity of six MW, the first of its kind in Seychelles.


Seychelles and Brazil sign Bilateral Air Services Agreement

Posted in International relations, Tourism industry at 1:36 pm by Robert Klien

Seychelles and Brazil have signed a bilateral air services agreement (Basa).

The document was signed on behalf of Seychelles by Barry Faure, secretary of state in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Transport and the outgoing Brazilian ambassador to Seychelles Francisco Carlos Soares Luz.

The signing of the Basa finalised discussions that took place between the two jurisdictions and aviation authorities during the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) air services negotiations conference held in December 2013 in South Africa.

Barry Faure said, “The air services agreement which we have signed today will finalise this function, this modern framework which encompasses all the major requirements for commercial operations in this modern age of civil aviation, thus ensuring full compliance with international civil aviation’s safety and security rules and procedures”.

He said that the signing will act as a gateway for further development of the two countries’ bilateral relations.

The Brazilian ambassador expressed his hope that Brazil and Seychelles will sign other agreements of this kind to foster tourism.


Seychelles ranks 2nd for tourism competitiveness in Africa

Posted in Tourism industry at 1:23 pm by Robert Klien

Seychelles was ranked 2nd in Africa in the World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index 2015. Compared to the 2013 report, the jurisdiction dropped from 38th to 54th place globally out of 141 countries, with its overall index result sliding from 4.51 to 4.

The main factors in the lower rankings were Seychelles’ indices for price competitiveness, cultural resources and business travel.

At 1st place in the region were South Africa, while Seychelles’ neighbouring island of Mauritius was placed 3rd.

The 115-island archipelago of Seychelles is famous for its crystal-clear warm waters, picturesque tropical beaches and population of just 90,000 people that has a reputation as a small but luxurious holiday destination, welcoming just over 230,000 international tourists in 2014.

To determine the rankings in the biennial report, not only arrivals were taken into account but also 14 sub-indices under four pillars:
– Enabling Environment,
– Travel and Tourism Policy,
– Infrastructure and Natural,
– Cultural Resources.

The report is compiled from numerous reputable data sources, including the World Bank, UNESCO, the World Health Organisation, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the World Tourism Organisation.


Seychelles Budget Increases Taxes

Posted in Business and Economy, Seychelles offshore jurisdiction, Tourism industry at 7:18 pm by Robert Klien

In his 2015 Budget Speech on December 15, Seychelles Minister for Finance, Trade, and Investment Pierre Laporte has had to announce further tax-raising measures, in order to ensure future fiscal sustainability.

The Government’s medium-term fiscal strategy, first put in place in 2008 following a default in debt payments and including an International Monetary Fund-agreed target to cut its debt-to-gross domestic product (GDP) to below 50% by 2018, has been thrown off course by global economic uncertainties.

As a result of those external pressures, both of Seychelles’ 2 major industries – tourism and manufacturing (canned tuna and brewing) – suffered slowdowns and provided lower business tax revenues. However, eventual tax collections have been rescued in 2014 by higher value-added tax (VAT) and import duty receipts held up by increased retail sales and domestic construction activity.

The Government’s revised projection for total revenue, excluding grants, in 2014 is USD 414.5 million, which is 7.6% higher than in 2013. Given the global economic situation, this is much more favorable fiscal outcome than could have been expected, Laporte said.

To bolster tax revenue, while also reducing excessive alcohol and tobacco consumption, Laporte is to hike excise duties by 20% on all drinks with an alcohol content in excess of 16%, and by 50% on all tobacco products. This is applied on both imported and local products.

Also, the Minister increased the levy on privately registered motor vehicles by 50% and doubled vehicle testing fees, while also raising road tax.

Furthermore, to facilitate payment of taxes, online tax services will be expanded in 2015 to include the submission of business tax and presumptive tax returns. Taxpayers will be able to register their businesses and update their business status and contact details online.

The Government will allow small businesses to choose either the presumptive tax system (based on 1.5% of their turnover), which was introduced in 2014, or follow the normal business tax system.

Laporte also announced changes to VAT for 2015.

Finally, the Government considers the international financial services sector as having significant potential. Laporte’s Ministry has recently initiated consultations with key stakeholders to develop a Financial Strategy for Seychelles. Progress has also been made in assessing the feasibility of introducing a framework for Islamic finance in Seychelles, with recommendations due in early 2015.

Laporte noted that the tougher stance of the OECD on offshore financial centers does not appear to have had a significant negative impact on Seychelles in 2014. The Government’s most immediate priority for the financial sector, however, is to restore Seychelles’ compliance with OECD standards on tax information exchange by mid-2015.

The Government has strengthened cooperation with the country’s international partners, and, apart from signing the agreed Foreign Account Tax Compliant Act intergovernmental agreement with the United States, Seychelles also expects to sign the OECD’s Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters early next year, following parliamentary approval of an amendment to the Seychelles Revenue Commission Act.


Seychelles is top destination for expensive hotels

Posted in Tourism industry at 5:52 pm by Robert Klien

Seychelles, as well as Maldives, Monaco, Mauritius and Aruba are the most expensive destinations for hotels, according to new data from HotelsCombined, the world’s leading hotel price comparison site

Seychelles, as well as Maldives, Monaco, Mauritius and Aruba are reportedly the most expensive destinations for accommodation, with travellers in these locations spending the most per-night on hotels.

Glamorous islands and coastal locations are the most expensive holiday destinations, while Bolivia, Laos and Nepal are the cheapest ones.


Former Seychelles consul-general’s home sells for $3.4m

Posted in Seychelles government, Tourism industry at 5:53 pm by Robert Klien

A sprawling Lysterfield mansion that was once home to the consul-general of Seychelles will soon become a meditation retreat.

An unnamed group with 40 000 followers fought off 5 other parties in the post-auction negotiations of 511 Belgrave Hallam Road. The property was passed in on a vendor bid of $2.7 million and sold for $3.4 million through agent Anthony Johnson, of Barry Plant. It had a reserve of $2.9 million. The house has 7 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms and 7 living areas. Although it is now grown over, there was an 18-hole golf course on the property. The overall territory of the property is 24 hectares.


Seychelles signs 6 agreements with Sri Lanka

Posted in International relations, Seychelles Culture, Tourism industry at 12:25 pm by Robert Klien

Seychelles and Sri Lanka signed an agreement for the establishment of a Joint Commission on cooperation before Presidents Mahinda Rajapaksa and James Michel at the State House in Victoria.

The Joint Commission will guide the entire bilateral cooperation mechanism including identifying areas of bilateral cooperation, arriving at agreements, implementation, identifying issues and finding solutions.

Also, the Presidents of the Seychelles and Sri Lanka witnessed the signing of 5 more agreements between the two jurisdictions.

They included the following: Agreement on Bilateral Political Consultation, Agreement on Cooperation on Tourism, Memorandum of Understanding to Promote Technical and Investment Cooperation in Power Sector Development in General and the Implementation of Renewable Energy Projects in Seychelles, Agreement on Cultural Cooperation and Memorandum of Understanding in the Field of Sports.

External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris and Seychelles Community Development, Social Affairs and Sports Minister Vincent Meriton signed the agreements on behalf of their countries.


Seychelles and India strengthen Tourism Co-operation

Posted in International relations, Tourism industry at 12:15 pm by Robert Klien

To promote mutual tourism between 2 jurisdictions, the Seychelles Tourism Board is set to conduct its 1st ever roadshow in India. The event is aimed at educating the Indian tourism and trade community about the destination and facilitating interaction between the Seychelles’ private sector and the Indian travel agents.

The delegation led by Seychelles Minister of Tourism and Culture Alain St Ange will include Sherin Naiken the CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board and her Director of Marketing Rose-Marie Hoareau. They will be joined by Destination Management Companies, hotels and the National Cultural Troupe from Seychelles.

On August 4, 2014, the roadshow will be held at Le Meridien in New Delhi. It will also be held at The Trident, in Mumbai on August 6. A delegation of the Seychelles’ business community with links to India is also expected to travel to India.

Commenting on his proposed trip to India, the Minister Alain St Ange said, “We are ready to claim a fair share of the very important Indian market. The roadshow is just a start. Our local business partners are ready to work with us and we are on the verge of making a big announcement that will bring to the front the new level of cooperation between India and Seychelles. We look forward to the support of the Indian travel-trade community in our efforts to promote Seychelles.”

It is worth noting that in 2013, Seychelles, which has 2 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, had celebrated its 1st ever Seychelles-India Day. To mark the event, 52 Bollywood stars flew to the jurisdiction in order to participate in the celebrations which is now included in the Annual Seychelles Calendar of Cultural Events.


Seychelles’ GDP grows, debt reduction on track

Posted in Business and Economy, Seychelles government, Seychelles' statistics, Tourism industry at 3:32 pm by Robert Klien

According the Seychelles’ finance minister, a recovery in tourism will help the country’s economy grow by a faster-than-expected 3.5% this year and then accelerate to 4% by 2015.

The Seychelles’ tourism sector has been working to fill hotels during the global economic slowdown. The jurisdiction has been turning to Asia in search of new business.

Finance Minister Pierre Laporte told parliament in his 2014 budget reading that this stronger growth will be supported primarily by continued recovery of European tourism markets and expansion of new markets.

He said that the Seychelles’ public debt would fall to 69% of national output. He forecast a primary surplus of 4.4% of gross domestic product in 2014, after a revised 5.2% in 2013. Public debt at 69% of GDP would put the Seychelles on track to reach its long-term debt objectives. The government of Seychelles aims at reducing its debt-to-GDP-ratio to 50% by 2018.

The finance minister announced a 3% cut to business tax, excluding banks, telecommunications firms, insurance companies and breweries, to leave it at 30%.

Laporte said that the minimum wage will rise by 20% for all workers apart from casual labourers.

Maintaining reforms to public enterprises, the government was selling a 27% stake in Seychelles Commercial Bank, its 50% share in Bank of Muscat International Offshore and its shares in the State Assurance Corporation of Seychelles.


Seychelles renews ties with Oman in tourism education

Posted in Tourism industry at 2:45 pm by Robert Klien

New avenues of cooperation between the Seychelles Tourism Academy (STA) and the Hotel and Tourism College in Oman have been opened.

This follows the renewal of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed in 2002 between the 2 educational institutions. The renewal of the accord was done by Dr Shoba of the Oman tourism college and the principal of the STA, Flavien Joubert, during a recent official educational mission in Oman. The signing took place in the presence of delegations from both sides.

Mr Joubert said the renewal of this MoU “will provide opportunities for STA students to follow courses at the Oman tourism college (OTC) and STA lecturers to follow internship courses on an exchange programme”.

“It will also make available opportunities for Seychellois hospitality professionals working in hotels and restaurants to go on work attachment in Oman’s 6 and 7-Star hotels through STA for exposures to another level of hospitality standards and clientele,” Mr Joubert said.

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