From overtourism to no tourism in Seychelles: What now for conservation?

(The Good Tourism Blog) Acclaimed environmentalist and sustainable development professional Dr Nirmal Shah has no problem admitting that he has no solution to conservation’s budget crisis in Seychelles. (How about you?) In a conversation with the “Good Tourism” Insight published on Tuesday last week, the Nature Seychelles chief offers a brief history of ecotourism in Africa’s most prosperous nation and lets us in on the quandary he’s facing.

Tourism is based upon and supportive of the people and natural environment of Seychelles

Tourism is based upon and supportive of the people and natural environment of Seychelles

In Seychelles, we have always known that tourism has a dark side. Tourism in many countries has led to pollution, loss of natural resources, conflicts with local people, sexual exploitation, and so forth.

Fortunately we have avoided many of these thanks to a quite sanguine understanding of who we are as a nation and how we stand in the world community. We are one of the smallest countries in the world with very few resources in the middle of an ocean a “thousand miles from anywhere” as the first tourism tagline said.

Back in the 1970s when the international airport was being built the Seychelles tourism board, of which my Dad was a member, agonised over what kind of tourism Seychelles would attract. From the old Minutes of Meetings I’ve seen there was consensus around what they did not want. They didn’t want anything resembling what they called charter tourism, or backpack tourism, or mass tourism.

Knowing full well that Seychelles had no other natural resources than postcard-perfect islands with azure blue ocean, powder-white beaches, and tall green mountains, they wanted something up-market; a tourism based upon and supportive of the people and natural environment of Seychelles.

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