The cruise industry remains the fastest growing tourism sector worldwide, and Seychelles and the Indian Ocean appear to be along for that ride.
By the close of the 2017-2018 cruise season this month, Mason’s Travel would have handled over 20,000 cruise passengers, a 33 percent increase over the previous season.
The additional traffic is good news for the local tourism industry, though the extra volume does present its share of challenges as well, says Lenny Alvis, General Manager.
“Increases in numbers are good for business but we always have to stay mindful about the quality of the experience we are providing,” Alvis said. “The good news is that there are real opportunities for serious vendors who are willing to adhere to the standards that the cruise lines expect, for instance when it comes to punctuality and the conditions of transfer vehicles.”
Other challenges relate to Seychelles’ relatively small size and the lack of certain facilities and accessibility for larger passenger groups, such as at some of Mahé’s sight-seeing stopovers like the Mission Lodge.
Despite the challenges, Seychelles is still set for further growth next season, when Aida cruises will join the regular line-up of frequent callers like Costa and MSC cruises. Based in Germany, Aida will be embarking and disembarking about 50 percent of its passengers in Seychelles during next year’s season, translating into additional transfers and services for the country.
Costa, which follows a specific Indian Ocean route with stops in Madagascar, Mauritius and Reunion, will be utilising a larger ship next season as well.
The new developments affirm that the Indian Ocean will continue to play a key role in the global cruise market, whether as part of a dedicated Indian Ocean tour, stopovers on world cruise tours, or for short-term circuits when vessels re-position to other parts of the world along the way.
“The new growth will bring its own set of challenges,” Alvis said, “but if our local supporting industry can adapt and invest, the entire country has an opportunity to see the benefits.”