The prestigious magazine, Destination of the World News, recently named the Seychelles as the new ‘global hot-spot’. Attracted by the region’s pristine beaches and luxury resorts, many famous people visit these beautiful islands. Princess Anne visited a while ago. The Seychelles also shot to prominence a few months ago when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge chose to spend their honeymoon there.
The tourism industry is booming in the Seychelles and many more staff is needed to work in this important section of the economy. The Seychelles Tourism Board which oversees the school of tourism in the Seychelles – the Seychelles Tourism Academy (STA), has therefore decided to oversee its reconstruction so that intelligent young people are attracted to the industry. The President of the Seychelles, James Michel, unveiled the plans for the new academy in April this year.
President Michel promised the students a new academy two years ago. He said that: ‘The construction of the new school has always been part of my vision and it is a promise I made to the students’. The plans were delayed because of the global financial crisis but now President Michel is fulfilling his promise. The academy was badly neglected until just a few years ago. One important staff member even remembers a time when her employees had to renovate abandoned buildings with snakes in the rooms and no electricity! There was also a problem with obtaining resources for the staff and students. The library was only temporary and the staff was overjoyed when they were finally connected to the Internet!
Although the STA has vastly improved since the Seychelles Tourism Board took charge of it, much work still needs to be done on the institution. This will be done with funding from the BADEA (an Arab bank), donations from groups such as the Seychelles Round Table Association, and raising funds from events held at the school.
The Seychelles Round Table Association gave the academy equipment worth R200, 000 this year. This was raised at a Regatta held at Beau Vallon in the Seychelles in 2010. The equipment included printers, computers and professional knives. This will be very useful for the students during their training at the STA.
The plans for the new STA include 15 classrooms, a library, management classes, a demonstration kitchen and 30 beds for hotel management training purposes. There will also be a language laboratory, an administration block and a new reception building. The new academy will be built at La Misere in the Seychelles. There will also be new courses and the quality of the teaching will be improved. The academy will aim to supply the tourism industry with students who have the best training possible in the hospitality and tourism industry. The institution will also cater to private events, in which the students will obtain valuable work experience, so it will include a hotel, villas and chalets.
A four-year apprenticeship scheme was recently introduced at the STA. This includes training in the classroom as well as in the industry. Students study such subjects as food production, housekeeping and front office operations.
Last year the STA was accredited by the highly regarded City and Guilds of London Institute as an academic centre capable of offering international tourism courses after an audit of the standards at the academy and the qualifications of the teachers and students. This accreditation convinced the lecturers at the STA that they should offer an international hospitality management programme. The STA has a partnership with the Shannon College of Hotel Management in Ireland. Seychelles students will be able to study advanced diploma and degree courses at Shannon. Sixteen students were carefully selected for this course this year. There were hundreds of applications and only the very best students were selected.
Students from the Shannon College also come to the STA under the exchange agreement between the two schools. They work in resorts and hotels in the Seychelles for three months. This valuable work experience counts towards their studies in Ireland.
The STA also renewed its cooperation agreement with the Beachcomber Hotel Group in Mauritius last year. This was originally signed in 2007. Lecturers and students were sent for pastry cooking training and front office training during the first agreement. The new arrangement will also allow students from the STA to have practical work experience in Mauritius. The STA will also hold courses for people in the hotel industry already who will be able to undertake further training in Mauritius.
The STA has also introduced more new courses recently. One new course involved learning how to be a tour guide in the Seychelles, for example. A dozen students graduated from this course during this year. They studied marketing, tourism and the history and geography of the archipelago, amongst other subjects.
The course was designed to provide new opportunities for the people of the Seychelles to earn a living in the tourism industry. The tour guides will inform tourists about the Creole culture of the Seychelles and its history and wildlife, a second course is in the planning stages now.
The principal of the STA, Flavien Joubert, and his staff also hope to continue to improve the perception of work in the tourism industry of students in the Seychelles. Unfortunately, many students once looked down on working in the industry as a future career. They regarded it as ‘servitude’, and hoped to become doctors or lawyers instead. Wages were also very low in the industry until a few years ago.
However, wages have increased and the perception of working in the industry is changing. Over sixty per cent of jobs in the archipelago are directly or indirectly based on tourism activities. The industry has had to employ many foreign workers because of the lack of professionally trained Seychelles graduates. There are now many new opportunities in the tourism industry in the Seychelles. The principal of the ‘new’ STA hopes to continue to improve its courses and facilities and to supply professionally trained graduates who will want to take up these new opportunities in the picturesque islands of the Seychelles.