It is said that Seychelles has some outstanding ecotourism sites. But how do we really judge whether this the case or not? Well, one way is to ask the visitors. A study has been ongoing on Cousin Island to look at this subject. We are studying the visitor experience, examining the impacts and reviewing the way tourism is handled.
Several hundred visitors on Cousin have been interviewed using questionnaires designed by an expert from the UK. The results we have up to now show that the visitor experience is a highly satisfactory one. The collection and landing of tourists by Nature Seychelles staff is clearly a popular part of the visit where 66% of the visitors were absolutely delighted with the exhilarating beach landing with an additional 30% finding it very good.
The visitors ranked the quality of the guiding by Cousin’s staff as the highest score in the survey with more than 71% ranking the experience as “excellent and 22% saying it was “very good”. Many additional positive comments were received which show that the levels of quality and enthusiasm being maintained to provide relevant and interesting information as well as humour are a credit to the island staff.
Visitors were also asked their opinion of the content of the tours. It seems that the right balance of information provision along with entertainment is being provided because over 60% of tourists ranked the content of the tours as “excellent” and 31.5% of them ranked it as “very good”.
Cousin is of course a Special Reserve. This means that the conservation of biodiversity takes absolute priority. Biodiversity comes first and everything else that is done on the island has to follow. But the great success in conservation on Cousin means that there is much for visors to see and experience.
Cousin is in fact a popular tourism destination. Eco tourism started there way back in 1972. Today Cousin forms an important part of the itinerary of tourists in the Praslin area. Hundreds of tourists come to Cousin every month. The overall satisfaction level of visitors indicated by the survey proves that the current ecotourism program is a very successful one.
The Cousin visit also provides value for money. Overpricing is a common complaint of tourists to Seychelles and this often spoils the visitors’ experience. More than 90% of the visitors to Cousin visit were satisfied with the cost. The majority of tourists to Cousin are part of a tour organised by travel agencies and hotels.
It is our policy not to encourage any increase in tourism activities on the island. The opening hours are strictly regulated to limit the numbers. Nature Seychelles staff control visitor landings and the handling of the tourists on the island itself. This is to ensure that the biodiversity of the island is protected.
Conservation is vital, but since there are tourists visiting the island we also go to great lengths to guarantee that their experience is a rich and authentic one. This seems to be working very well and is adding more feathers in the cap of tourism in Seychelles.