aTP- Arab tourism portal News- The Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine, Ambassador Maurice Loustau-Lalanne attended a meeting that brought together hoteliers and other tourism business owners on Praslin.
The meeting, aimed at tackling criminal acts against visitors on the island, was held at the Paradise Sun Hotel at Cote D’Or, on Friday November 10, 2017.
It was also attended by the Commissioner of Police, Kishnan Labonte and other senior police officers.
The meeting was requested a month ago by the Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association (SHTA), following an increase in thefts and acts of violence against tourists, including a recent attack on an Austrian couple.
All stakeholders present expressed concern vis-à-vis the situation considering the negative impact such incidents can have on the tourism industry, which is the pillar of the Seychelles economy.
Thefts and other crimes committed by drug addicts, lack of action by the police, lenient sentences imposed on criminals, especially repeated offenders, were but some of the issues raised.
Various solutions were proposed, such as the beefing up of the police presence on Praslin, harsher punishments for offenders including the presence of a permanent judicial system on the island to fast track cases involving visitors to the island, among others.
In his response, Minister Loustau-Lalanne said a number of immediate measures were being taken to address the situation, including the installation of more street lights, and clearing of bushes to ensure the safe movement of people on Praslin.
He also spoke about the setting up of a tourism police unit within the police force, the production of a leaflet offering practical tips to visitors to ensure their safety and that of their belongings, as well as the need for increased collaboration between all relevant stakeholders.
Minister Loustau-Lalanne said: “The hoteliers and business owners have raised some genuine concerns and we need to take decisive action as soon as possible. We have asked for their support, financial support, through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) tax to help tackle the problems.”
“We have been told there are only some 10 to 15 people committing these crimes, we need to solve this problem because we cannot allow a small group of people to hurt our country and our tourism industry, which is our bread and butter,” he added.
For his part, Commissioner Labonte said given additional financial resources are provided to the police, he intends to have a fully-fledged Police Station at Baie St Anne, additional manpower for the island, and the introduction of two mobile caravans that would allow the police to have a mobile presence at several locations on Praslin. Mr Labonte also proposed the introduction of special constables within the police force, for ordinary citizens who are willing to work part-time.
The meeting was also attended by the two members of the National Assembly on Praslin, Wavel Woodcock for Grand Anse, and Churchill Gill for Baie Ste Anne, who said they will support request for additional funds to be allocated to the police’s budget to help address their deficiencies.
The Chairperson of the Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association, Sybille Cardon expressed appreciation with the turnout at the meeting and expressed hope that prompt actions will be taken by the relevant government authorities to remedy the situation.