Seychelles islands witness tussle between protection of tourism and tortoises | AFP

By | March 6, 2020


The Instagram perfect beaches of the
Seychelles, just can’t help looking like a tourism advert at all times. For many years, holidaying here was seen as a
luxury afforded only to a small number. However, reflecting a global trend this group of
115 islands off the coast of East Africa, is seeing visitor numbers climb ever higher. From 2008 to 2018 the number
of visitors doubled to 360,000 — over four times the country’s population. “Tourism in Seychelles in general is increasing and that is of concern to
conservationists like myself to sustainable developers like myself who
find that maybe we’re reaching a point which experts call ‘overtourism’. And yet tourism is a vital part of this nation’s economy, accounting for more than 60% of its GDP. The key issue for the government is working
out how to maintain this industry without letting it overrun the place. To preserve the status of these
islands as a high-end luxury destination, the government introduced a temporary
ban in 2015 on the construction of new hotels on the three main islands. And on further flung islands the Seychelles
practices a one island-one resort policy, all with the aim of avoiding
becoming a mass tourism destination. Development is kept to a minimum,
so that it does not really destroy what we inherited. And for us to keep the waters clean,
you know the marine environments teeming with fish, the attractions that
are in there and that people feel very much you know that you are in an
environment which is still very much intact,
compared to many other places. Luxury hotels are among the biggest sources of
pollution in the Seychelles. Many import their groceries from abroad and have
around-the-clock dependence on oil powered generators for electricity. This resort on the island of Silhouette is taking steps to reduce its environmental impact. For example a blanket ban on the use of plastic bottles. “In one year we managed
to save almost around 400,000 bottles of plastic, so it was the first measure we
took by starting to produce our own water which comes from a Mount Dauban,
our own little mountain and eventually bottling this water and giving it to our
clients complimentary. The tourism ministry says it believes the island
could ultimately absorb up to around 500,000 tourists per year. Any more than that,
and the worry is that the country’s vast amounts of protected natural spaces
could come under threat.

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