Via AirlineRoute, Ethiopian is canceling service to the Seychelles from March 2014. This follows in the footsteps of the mighty Qatar who long ago canceled it’s Seychelles service, meaning that now neither Star Alliance or OneWorld have any service into this beautiful country. Even Emirates has reduced it’s service though fortunately they still have daily flights from Dubai. Kenya Airways flights from Nairobi are now the only alliance affiliated flights to the Seychelles, though Etihad’s service from Abu Dhabi and Emirates service from Dubai remain accessible options for miles bookings using the likes of American or Alaskan Airlines’ mileage programs. All of these cuts also follow on from the national flag carrier Air Seychelles dropping it’s international service in 2011 – they used to have a great flight to Paris that was an Air France code-share that could be booked with Delta miles, but that is another piece of history now.
I really do not understand the inability of the Seychelles to better develop it’s tourist industry. Make no bones about it, the Seychelles is an absolutely beautiful country. Truly stunning. It’s various islands have served for many photo shoots and film sets. It’s tourism competitor to the south, Mauritius, is like wasteland compared to the exotic natural beauty of the Seychelles, the world’s only granitic islands. I have seen plenty of “world’s best beaches” lists, but the incredible beaches like Anse Lazio on Praslin or Anse Source d’Argent on La Digue Island really do have a strong claim on that title (not to mention some of the sexiest beach names on the planet!)
Despite this over-abundance of natural beauty I have not seen significant progress in the tourism industry since our first vacation in 2000 (when we flew there with British Airways, another airline that has long since withdrawn service). While the Maldives has developed a hugely vibrant and profitable tourism industry, the Seychelles is getting harder and harder to get to, and options on places to stay when you get there are not overly abundant. In 2011 we stayed at one of Starwood’s offerings, Le Meridien Fisherman’s Cove, and it felt like it was straight out of 1975.
The country got some great publicity when British royal-celebs Will & Kate honeymooned there (staying at the beautiful looking Desroches Island, renowned for excellent diving and deep sea fishing) and it certainly does seem to have developed a few uber high end resorts like North Island or Fregate Island, they just don’t seem to have found a groove in terms of good quality, aspirational but accessible properties. Between our visits in 2000 and 2011 both Four Seasons and Banyan Tree opened up resorts here, but not much else, and even those properties have not garnished the kind of feedback many of their global siblings have enjoyed. And I am sure that is a huge part of why demand just isn’t there and as such airlines are cutting back on capacity.
So anyway, as I say Ethiopian is cutting it’s service. But I think until the tourism industry in this incredibly beautiful country get it’s act together, I don’t see accessibility improving any time soon.
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