Neil on Africa: The Seychelles is paradise on Earth
With its tropical climate and tantalising attractions, the Seychelles has become a magnet for tourists and honeymooners who desire pristine surroundings, privacy and proximity to the best of luxuries and amenities.
It’s no wonder that the UK’s Prince William and Catherine chose the Seychelles for their honeymoon in 2011, and David and Victoria Beckham escaped to the Seychelles for their 10-day Indian Ocean break on their 10th wedding anniversary.
Not only do the islands have breathtaking landscapes, but they’re also home to some of the most luxurious and secluded hotels.
The Seychelles is a small island nation in the Indian Ocean off the East Coast of Africa with a population of 96 762, which is the smallest population of any sovereign African state.
The Seychelles is made up of a chain of islands, with others dotted far off the chain. There are two sets of islands: the inner granite islands and the outer coral islands. There are 45 inner granite islands, while the rest are outer coral islands.
The inner granite islands are the world’s only oceanic granite islands. Mahe is the largest island and the seat of the Seychelles capital city Victoria, the smallest in the world covering 1.5km and can be explored on foot in less than a day.
Though small and eye-catching, the country is the second richest country in Africa (first is Equatorial Guinea) with a gross domestic product (GDP) per capita of $28 712 (R419 983).
Despite its size, the country has managed to turn itself into a prime tourist destination. In 2018 it received 361 844 tourists, 3.5 times its resident population which increased by 3 percent from 2017.
The service industry has transformed the country into a high-income economy with an estimated GDP of $1.59 billion (2018 World Bank), of which 84 percent is generated by the service sector through tourism.
The Seychelles exports vanilla, coconuts, coconut oil, fish and guano (a fertiliser made by seabird and bat faeces). Agriculture is not a significant contributor, contributing 2.5 percent to the GDP and the industrial sector 13.5 percent.
On the Neil economic scale, the price of a can of coke is 18.67Rs (R19.92) and a litre of petrol is 19.01Rs (R20.28). Consumer prices and rent are on average 39.7 percent higher in Victoria than in Cape Town.
The Seychelles must ensure transformation aimed at sustained economic growth fuelled by increasing productivity, as the economy is mainly vulnerable to external shocks.
A weakening of tourism entries – for instance because of increased competition from newer markets in the Middle East and Asia or a series of price hikes in international food and oil prices – could harm the economy.
The leadership of the country has ensured that there is preservation of flora and fauna that can be seen in most parts of the country, which remains nature preserved. Just breathing in the pristine, unpolluted air on Alphonse makes you feel healthier.
It is no surprise to learn that the 2016 Environmental Performance Index found that the Seychelles has the purest air on the planet or that the islands have a world record 50 percent of the total land area under natural conservation. Surely this is paradise.
Neil De Beer is president of the IFA and advises numerous African states on economic development. Find him on www.ifa.africa or [email protected]