Sey­chelles busi­ness trav­ellers flock to SA

Thanks to the weak rand and the high price of goods in Dubai, many busi­nesses come here to stock up

CityPress - - Busi­ness - NICKI GULES nicki.gules@city­press.co.za

South Africa is at­tract­ing a whole new breed of busi­ness trav­eller – from, of all places, the Sey­chelles. Best known for beach hon­ey­moons and ro­man­tic trips, res­i­dents of the In­dian Ocean is­lands have started trav­el­ling to South Africa to take ad­van­tage of the weak rand.

Air Sey­chelles CEO Roy Kin­n­ear says that in the past six months, his air­line has seen an 8% in­crease in pas­sen­ger traf­fic from Sey­chelles to Jo­han­nes­burg.

The coun­try is al­most com­pletely re­liant on im­ported goods, and cargo ser­vices have been a ma­jor growth area for the air­line, with 4 415 tons of freight moved in 2015, pri­mar­ily on its Paris and Jo­han­nes­burg routes.

The air­line launched its per­sonal shop­per ser­vice in Novem­ber to help Sey­chel­lois source and im­port goods from South Africa.

The ser­vice is help­ing lo­cal busi­ness­peo­ple with a 50% dis­count on the mar­ket rate, and it helps the air­line, which is pri­mar­ily used by tourists, to fill up its freight quo­tas.

Kin­n­ear says: “With this ser­vice, our cus­tomers can source goods from South Africa, such as DIY hard­ware and tools, spare ve­hi­cle and boat parts, and home dé­cor items, and they can ar­range for quick air freight back home.”

Jo­han­nes­burg busi­ness­man Mal­colm Beulink is mov­ing be­tween 300kg and 500kg of air freight be­tween Jo­han­nes­burg and Mahe each month – every­thing from medicine and spare parts to food and toys.

He started his busi­ness in Septem­ber last year.

“A lot has con­trib­uted to the trend of buy­ing goods in South Africa, but it’s pri­mar­ily due to high prices in Dubai, com­bined with a weaker rand. It makes sense for lo­cal peo­ple to buy their stock from South Africa,” says Beulink.

“The idea is that there are a lot of peo­ple fly­ing from the Sey­chelles to South Africa to shop, and they buy a lot of stuff and then get stuck at the check-in counter when their bag­gage is over­weight. And then there are the ticket and ho­tel costs.

“So, we pack and box the goods for them, and they get there in three days.”

The air­line has re­cently can­celled it’s twice-weekly flights be­tween Mahe and Dar es Salaam, Tan­za­nia, and put those wide-body Air­bus planes on the Jo­han­nes­burg route in­stead.

In so do­ing, it has in­creased the num­ber of weekly flights to South Africa from three to five.

Another lo­cal com­pany ben­e­fit­ing from in­creased traf­fic be­tween the two coun­tries is Tsogo Sun, which has two re­sort ho­tels on the is­lands – the five-star Maia Lux­ury Re­sort & Spa on the main is­land of Mahe, and the four-star Par­adise Sun Ho­tel on Praslin Is­land, a 20-minute flight away.

Guest num­bers at the two re­sorts prove that, de­spite the weak rand, South Africans still have money to spend on a good beach, such as Anse Lazio, the beach on Praslin Is­land that came fourth on TripAd­vi­sor’s Trav­ellers’ Choice list for the world’s best beach.

Maia, a favourite of the in­ter­na­tional su­per­rich from Euro­pean and Gulf coun­tries, costs up­wards of R50 000 a night.

How­ever, one ded­i­cated South African beach­goer re­cently spent three weeks there at a cost of about R500 000.

At Par­adise Sun, gen­eral man­ager Lionel Fer­rari says South Africans make up a large vol­ume of his guests, and are the third most rep­re­sented na­tion­al­ity at the ho­tel af­ter French and Ger­man tourists.

“South Africans are very im­por­tant to us,” he says.

How­ever, be­cause of the weak rand, South African vis­i­tor num­bers to Par­adise Sun have fallen by 10%, but those beds are be­ing filled by oth­ers.

The chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer of Tsogo Sun Ho­tels, Richard Weil­ers, says South African trav­ellers have al­ways been im­por­tant to the Tsogo Sun prop­er­ties in the Sey­chelles be­cause they un­der­stand the group’s brand, ex­pe­ri­ence and ser­vice.

Sey­chelles

PHOTO: NICKI GULES

PAR­ADISE Anse Lazio on Praslin Is­land has been voted the fourth-best beach in the world by TripAd­vi­sor users

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