Swiss visitor marks 100,000th to land in Seychelles this year

Swiss visitor Sandro Gianella, accompanied by his partner Nathalie Goddi, was completely taken by surprise upon his arrival at the Seychelles International Airport on Saturday July 16, when he was called aside to be greeted as the 100,000th visitor to the islands this year.
The couple from Switzerland arrived on the Emirates EK707 flight from Dubai and Mr. Gianella stepped down on the Seychelles soil as that lucky visitor to clock the 100,000th milestone. He was welcomed by the Seychelles Tourism Board Chief Executive, Alain St. Ange, and his deputy CEO, Elsia Grandcourt.

As part of his prize, 28-year-old Mr. Gianella was presented with the Seychelles Tourism Board gift bag, which also included a voucher for a boat excursion for two in the Sainte Anne Marine Park sponsored by the Calypso Glass Bottom Boat and a dinner for two at Les Cocotiers Restaurant, sponsored by the Hilton Seychelles Northolme Resort&Spa.

Ms. Goddi, on the other hand, received a warm tropical island’s welcome with a lovely frangipani garland placed around her neck.

Mr. Gianella, a manager by profession, said that they owed their visit to Seychelles to a friend from the Praslin island, who often travels to Switzerland.

“I’m very happy to be here and feel very lucky since many people in my country know about Seychelles,” he said, full of emotions.

He explained that they will be spending two weeks in Seychelles and hoped to enjoy the islands to the maximum.

“We are planning to enjoy Seychelles – relax a bit, do some fishing, diving, snorkeling – and make the most of this paradise,” Mr. Gianella added.

It is to be noted that Seychelles has this year clocked its 100,000th visitor way ahead of last year, which was in the month of August. Statistics show that arrivals are approximately 10,000 more than last year for the same period, thus showing a 9% growth.

The Seychelles Tourism Board chief said they will make Switzerland know that one of their visitors has clocked that very important milestone for the islands this year.

“We will be sending communiqués to their part of the world to let Switzerland and other nearby areas know that their visitors to our country were well-received and acknowledged upon their arrival,” said Mr. St. Ange.

Mr. St. Ange also said that Seychelles is so far performing well in terms of tourist arrivals, and this is an encouraging sign for the tourism industry.
“It shows we are progressing and that we need to continue to work on our weaknesses to ensure our numbers remain positive,” he said.

Silver wedding anniversary takes British couple back to heavenly Seychelles

A couple from UK has returned to what they described as “heavenly” Seychelles this week, to celebrate their silver wedding anniversary. This is not just any vacation; they have returned to the island where they tied the knot 25 years ago.

Gerard and Angela Barte got married at the Reef Hotel on a bright and sunny afternoon of May 5, 1986. They took their vows under a traditional thatched gazebo, and the lovely and dashing bride was given away by the then young hotel Marketing & Sales Manager, Alain St.Ange.

Mr. St.Ange is today the Chief Executive Officer of the Seychelles Tourism Board, and the couple paid him a surprise visit at his offices at Bel Ombre.
“I can still remember that day when I walked Angela, who was carrying a white umbrella, to the groom. It was a nice, simple, but very romantic wedding,” said Mr. St.Ange.

Gerard and Angela said they couldn’t have picked a better place to declare their love for each other and that since then, they had visited the islands again in 2006 and now in 2011.

“We wanted a special location for this very important moment in our lives,” said a smiling Angela, adding, “We wanted somewhere magical, romantic, unique and with plenty of sun and sea. Seychelles was all that.”

Gerard, who is French but married an English bride, said the fact that both their languages were spoken in Seychelles, made them feel a special bond with the islands, and they knew this was the place they had been looking for.

“Seychelles is beautiful and we knew we would feel at home here. People are so friendly, and we made a lot of friends,” he explained.

Upon their return to the islands in 2006, they decided to spend more days here so as to better appreciate the place and culture, and they took the occasion to renew their vows at the St. Paul’s Cathedral.

They are back now for their silver anniversary and though they are not planning anything special, they just feel they have to be in Seychelles for this milestone.

Since they are now better acquainted with the islands, they are enjoying island hopping as they visit the islands of Mahé, Praslin, and La Digue.

“We love the islands, the food, the friendly people, and everything else that makes this destination very special to us,” they said.

They noted that a lot of developments have taken place in the country, but the charm and character that makes the islands unique in all sense of the word, still remains.

The couple has a 24-year-old son and since he has never been to Seychelles, they are planning to bring him along next time they visit.

“We have visited other destinations, such as the Carribean, but Seychelles has the greatest appeal. We have sent a lot of friends to Seychelles and yes, we would be back to visit, because the experience gets better each time,” said the couple.

Alain St.Ange, the CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board, said that he was happy to have been part of the hotel management team who cared for the British Couple in 1986. “We must have done something right, because they keep coming back to Seychelles. Seychelles remains the dream location for weddings and honeymoons, and the proof of any pudding is in the eating… Gerard and Angela came, got married in paradise, and are now back to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. This speaks for itself, and we are proud to always welcome back such valued guests who hold Seychelles pictures in their most treasured photo albums,” Alain St.Ange said.

The worlds best beach

The clean white sandy beaches of the Seychelles have again pulled an international recognition as being the best. This time it is the National Geographic book that has listed one of the known Seychelles beaches as the best in the world. Anse Source d’Argent on the island of La Digue is the beach that has topped the list of beaches most sought after. Second after the Seychelles was the Maldives, which was followed by Tahiti.

Alain St.Ange, CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board, said that he was happy with the findings published by the National Geographic book. “Our beaches are one of our unique selling points, alongside our clean and clear turquoise blue seas, our unspoiled nature, the diversity of our islands as Seychelles remains unique as a group of islands to have both granitic and coral islands, the diversity of our people among others. We are happy that a respected publication such as the National Geographic book has taken notice of the best of the best. Seychelles today has over 50% of its land area dedicated to natural reserves, because we care about our environment, and our government is clearly demonstrating that they are serious custodians of our environment and unique treasures for our future generations and for the world to see as they visit this last paradise on Earth,” said Alain St.Ange when contacted by the press following this listing by National Geographic.

Below is the listing as published by the National Geographic book – The 10 Best of Everything:

1. SEYCHELLES

One of the most photographed beaches in the world, the pale pink sands of Anse Source d’Argent unfurls across the island of La Digue, one of the 115 components of this archipelago in the Indian Ocean. The sands sparkle against a backdrop of towering granite boulders, worn by time and weather. The turquoise water is relatively shallow and protected from the ocean’s waves by a reef.

2. MALDIVES

Whether your dream beach trip consists of spending a few pampered nights in a four-star resort or swimming among tropical fish some 80 feet (24 meters) underwater, the Maldives are the sort of islands where either or both can come true. Straddling the equator southwest of Sri Lanka, the 1,102 islands that make up the Maldives form 26 atolls. The soft air enveloping the archipelago blends into a beautiful palm-fringed haze.

3. BORA BORA, TAHITI

This is one of the magical islands that make up French Polynesia in the South Pacific. Just 18 miles (29 kilometers) long, this lush little slip of land lies in a protected lagoon edged by white sandy shores, the best being at Matira Point. Bora Bora boasts the nickname the “Romantic Island,” a moniker easy to appreciate with its isolated beaches, intimate hotels, and quiet atmosphere.

4. THE HAMPTONS, NEW YORK

One of the hip spots for the air-kissing, well-heeled set, the Hamptons boast some of the prettiest beaches on Long Island. The unspoiled shoreline begins around Southampton and runs east to the end of the island at Montauk. Windswept dunes and waving grasses border the Atlantic Ocean.

5. LANIKAI BEACH, HAWAII

Half a mile of sparkling sand, palm trees swaying over a white beach, lush tropical plants, and endless sunshine make Lanikai one of Hawaii’s most scenic beaches. The shore is protected by a nearby coral reef, which keeps the surf relatively calm. The water is always deep green and postcard-perfect.

6. NANTUCKET ISLAND, MASSACHUSETTS

The most popular beaches on this island in the North Atlantic are Surfside and Children’s. The waters here are relatively calm, and there’s plenty of sand to use for sunbathing or castle-building. Madaket Beach is known for its rougher surf and not-to-be-missed sunsets. Quidnet Beach provides great views of Sankaty Head lighthouse.

7. FRASER ISLAND, AUSTRALIA

Perched on the sunny Queensland coast 161 miles (259 kilometers) northeast of Brisbane, Fraser Island is the world’s largest sand island and home to a wonderful beach. This World Heritage Site is an ecologist’s dream, with 640 square miles (1,664 square kilometers) of unspoiled natural paradise. Rain forests with 1,000-year-old trees sprout from the sand. Lodgings here accommodate a wide range of tourists, from the backpacking ecology lover to pampered resort fans.

8. ST. BART’S

One of many islands in the Caribbean Sea, St. Bart’s stands out with its blend of French chic and island relaxation. With beautiful secluded beaches, fine French cuisine, and gracious hotels, this tropical playground is popular with the Jet Set. The 8-mile-long (13-kilometer-long) island is edged by 20 beaches and small coves for swimmers and sunbathers, with sparkling water and white sand.

9. LANGKAWI, MALAYSIA

The name “Langkawi” translates into “the land of one’s wishes,” a welcoming concept that somewhat belies the island’s historic origins as a reputed refuge for pirates. Langkawi has since become a modern hideaway for the traveler seeking an escape. If your vacation wishes extend from uncrowded white sands and clear waters to lush green forests, you will find yourself content here. Datai Bay, located on Pulau Langkawi, is a heavenly retreat on the Andaman Sea.

10. KAUNA’OA BAY, HAWAII

Located on the Kohala Coast of the Aloha State’s Big Island, Kauna’oa Bay is the quintessential Hawaiian spot. The 0.25-mile-long (0.4-kilometer-long), crescent-shaped beach has plenty of white sand, palm trees, and calm, clear, blue water. In addition to swimming and sunbathing, beach-goers here can snorkel or ride boogie boards. (Be careful swimming, however, because there are no lifeguards on this public beach.) At night, nestle into the sands and peer out into the water to see if you can catch a glimpse of manta rays swimming.