Saint Ange Tourism Report Edition #30 of 2018 :
Yield from the island’s tourism industry needs activities or facilities for visitors if it is to grow. Lying on beach chairs or just sun tanning on the pristine beaches of the islands is free, and unless visitors have more to do, they will continue to leave Seychelles with money budgeted for their dream holiday still in their pockets. In 2016 two Penguin submarines were imported into the country, but are still tied to marina pontoons instead of offering what would be, a novelty excursion for visitors.
In 2016 the Seychelles News Agency wrote about the Penguins in the tropics, as they announced that the new submarines would offer tourists dry, underwater rides. “For sea lovers wanting to discover the amazing marine life in the vast ocean around the Seychelles islands, taking a plunge into the crystal clear waters is the way to go.
A snorkelling or diving expedition, however, is not everyone’s favourite thing to do, leaving those who are not willing to get their feet wet to choose other options. While glass bottom boats have long been an ideal choice, locals and visitors to Seychelles will now be able to also choose a ‘penguin experience’ to explore the underwater world of the 115-island archipelago in the western Indian Ocean” the Seychelles News Agency wrote.
The Penguin is a compact semi-submarine with two floating hulls, a central underwater cabin and three large windows, which makes a dry, up-close encounter with bright colourful fish swimming around the reefs at two metres deep possible. Seychelles remains one of the most popular snorkelling spots and provides the ideal setting for the launching of a pair of these semi-submarines on Tuesday. The venture is being undertaken by Creole Travel Services, a local tourism business of the JFAlbert Group of companies, in collaboration the HLB company, a South Korean firm specializing in the manufacture of lifeboats, including the Penguins.
“These Penguins have been launched in the Maldives. They have five of those and 60 percent of their clients are Chinese visitors, because they love to discover. So it’s something good for Seychelles, which is trying to develop the Chinese market, but also for other groups like families and children who cannot swim,” the general manager of Creole Travel services, Guillaume Albert, told Seychelles News Agency.
The collaboration between Creole Travel Services and South Korea’s HLB Company was initiated by the Seychelles Honorary Consul in South Korea, who is also the brains behind the 2008 Eco-Friendly Marathon, which has now become an annual event. The small vessels are also eco-friendly, as their motors run on battery power. “The battery can last for eight hours meaning we can have a full day or twin half day operations on a full charge,” Roland D’Offay the director of operations at the JFAlbert Group of companies told SNA. D’Offay explained that the two Penguins have been brought in as Creole Travel Services is in the process of replacing its aging fleet of glass bottom boats.
The initiative has been welcomed by the tourism authorities as an innovative way to increase tourism earnings. “We need better yield from the Seychelles tourism industry. We can keep on bringing tourists but this will not increase the yield. To increase the yield we need facilities, we need activities. Bringing in the new Penguins is offering something new for the tourists,” the tourism minister Alain St Ange said. It is hoped that Seychellois and tourists alike would be interested, with Creole Travel Services planning to offer night excursions and include educational programmes on the outings, to create awareness about the Seychelles’ marine environment.
According to JFAlbert Group of companies, the cost of one of the semi-submarines is around $115,000. The fee to ride on the new Penguins, hasn’t been set yet. The penguins can carry 12 people at a time, eight on the main deck and four in the underwater cabin.
Today in 2018 the question is why are these two Penguin submarines not being used for excursions for those wanting to discover the underwater world of the Seychelles and helping increase the island’s yield from tourism. Yield has been the word used at every opportunity whenever the tourism industry is being discussed, but yield is not just and cannot be just the room rate charged by hotels. Visitors to Seychelles must have activities available to them in order to spend what they budgeted would be their holiday budget.
In discussions with the JFAlbert Group of companies, it transpires that a mother ship-like pontoon is needed to be anchored in the marine park to facilitate the loading and unloading of passengers on the Penguin submarines, that cannot come close to the beach because of their underwater cabin. The two small submarines with battery motors are environmentally friendly and follow the norms of what is being promoted as sustainable tourism. This excursion is an asset to the destination as is being clearly demonstrated in the Maldives.
Who will be proactive to move forward to accompany the promoters and help increase the yield from tourism?