By Salifa Karapetyan
Travel restrictions in Seychelles and globally due to the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a steep drop in revenue in the local tourism industry, affecting both owners and the staff they employ.
SNA spoke to some hotel owners to find out how they are coping with the sudden downturn, which comes after several years of strong tourism growth, including many new international flights, in the island nation.
The owner of Les Lauriers Eco Hotel, Sybille Cardon, told SNA that the situation is dire for her as she had just completed construction works on the hotel and was expected to do the official opening on April 1.
“For me, this is a catastrophe as we do not have any cash flow and I have invested all that I had in the establishment. Even if the bank has frozen the loan for six months, I don’t know how the situation will be in six months. The government will be helping me to pay the staff otherwise I would have had redundancies,” said Cardon.
She added that before the government came forward with the financial aid, she had already spoken to the staff and they understood the situation.
Following the government’s decision to grant leave to parents with children under 15 years of age, only 10 percent of staff are working to maintain the establishment.
Le Duc de Praslin Hotel & Villas, a Seychellois-owned establishment located on Seychelles’ second-largest island, Praslin, closed March 23. The marketing director of the establishment, Derek Savy, said the situation will be reassessed toward mid-April to decide on the re-opening date.
“From the 100 staff that the hotel employ, we have retained 40 who are working to maintain the hotel. Every effort is being made to keep the costs at a minimum and taking all precautions to ensure that all safety standards are adhered to,” said Savy.
Most recently the hotel opened a new complex of 20 deluxe rooms. Though these rooms are in top shape, staff are concentrating on the back of the house maintenance such as full equipment maintenance of chillers, freezers, airconditioners among others.
Talking about safety measures, he said that, to avoid overcrowding in the canteen during meals, special timings have been designated for staff. Sanitisation spots have been installed around the hotel to ensure good hygiene is maintained at all times.
“We are also taking the opportunity to modernise some of our older rooms and have recently reopened our villas for clients who are still in Seychelles seeking accommodation. Keeping the gardens and grounds clean as well as improving on our landscaping is an ongoing process in this downtime which will ensure that upon reopening the hotel will be welcoming back its guests with a new face,” said Savy.
The general manager of Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort and Spa, Andre Borg, told SNA that the 30 percent of employees still on duty are there to maintain infrastructures of the resort on Silhouette.
“At the moment we are maintaining the power plants, we supply the water and we also maintain the boat, the transportation between Mahe and Silhouette. This is what the hotel is responsible for. Right now, there are no guests and the last visitor left around March 27,” said Borg.