A tale of sticking to a core competency

This article appeared originally in Gulf News: link to original article

On one of those rare occasions when I am capable of taking a few days off, I managed to travel recently to one of my favourite fishing destinations — Seychelles. After landing in Victoria, my long trusted taxi driver took my friends and I to the marina to inspect the fishing boat that was supposed to take us fishing that same day.

When I came to get the cash from the car, the money envelope was nowhere to be found. The taxi driver called the police, who were soon on site. A policeman went and scolded the youngsters in the area.

Though he was speaking in Seychellois Creole, we managed to hear a word similar to “tourism” and could tell from his tone that he was angry. After that, other policemen arrived at the scene. A detailed statement was obtained from me along with the denominations of the stolen money.

There were then two dogs scooping the area for any scent of the money. The youngsters were all taken to the police station where they were interrogated and our taxi driver was called in later on.

This happened at around 11am (UAE/Seychelles time). We had the money back by 7pm (UAE/Seychelles time) along with the same envelope that the money was held in.

Impressive? That’s probably the least that could be used here to describe the efficiency in tracking down and bringing back the whole amount. If anything, one must salute the effectiveness of the security apparatus in Seychelles, an island located to the eastern coast of Africa and is blessed with a booming tourism sector that has been the main driver of its GDP growth at more than 5 per cent for the past five years, with the exception of 2014.

When considering its economic data, or more specifically the figures related to its economy breakdown, more than 70­‐80 per cent is driven by services or fuelled by services­‐related activities. The country occupies three main islands and tens of other smaller islands and has almost all components that could make it a thriving tourist destination.

I have been to the country many times, and witnessed myself the ever­ increasing numbers of tourists from all over the world. Besides tourism, the country boasts a decent fishing industry, which Seychelles preserves by not allowing, for instance, the construction of sea bungalows. The island has managed its economy in an outstanding manner with the origins of its GDP carefully distributed between household and government consumption.

The remainder has been briskly balanced between capital investments and exporting sectors for which the country stands to realise huge gains in the future. Besides all of that, and with no oil reserves or other significant minerals that could be extracted from the ground, Seychelles has managed to maintain high reserves of gold and foreign currencies in proportion to its GDP.

Seychelles has about $500 million for a GDP of $1.4 billion, that and a budget surplus for the year 2014. It also has a much lower debt­‐to­‐GDP ratio than many European countries.

Why am I mentioning all of this? Because this is a country that many would probably underestimate when it has been doing quite good on many aspects. The country has proven its resolute in cracking down on crime to preserve its tourism sector and make sure that it continues to flourish when countries in other continents take the consistent flows of tourists for granted.

This country has invested and continues to invest in this most vital sector to safeguard its future prospects.

An example of that would be the Seychelles Maritime Training Center that prepares joiners to work in maritime tourism. Students intern as skippers on chartered fishing boats after which they can fulfil their training requirements.

The last thought I want to leave you with — Why doesn’t Seychelles expand its agricultural contribution to GDP beyond the current 3 per cent?