Souvenir sellers and a wedding planner in Seychelles say business has not yet returned to normal even with the re-opening of the island nation’s borders two months ago, though car hires appear to be doing booming business.
Two entrepreneurs who are in the souvenir and craft business told SNA on Wednesday that they had to diversify to ensure that at the end of the month they have a salary to bring home to their families.
The owner of Mangouya Fashion House, Pacquerette Lablache, said that she had to go back to teaching, a career she left 12 years ago to open her own business.
“Even if I’ve been teaching for a month and a half now, I didn’t close my shop completely. At the moment, in my shop located at Camion Hall, we are not seeing a lot of tourists. I think that we need more time so as to see things pick up. I also placed some of my work in ESA’s (Enterprise Seychelles Agency) shop at the airport, and since late last year until now, I’ve been making some sales there. Things are moving quite slow, and sales are not as they were before,” said Lablache.
Her peer in the souvenir and craft industry, Maxim Payet, also outlined that sales at Coco Shell to tourists are almost non-existent.
“I had to remove most of my souvenirs from my shop and placed them in storage at home. I have tried looking for other products to sell to survive. Right now, I am focusing on selling items to Seychellois rather than tourists. Even if there are tourists on Mahe, there aren’t any coming to Unity House,” said Payet.
He added that having to pay rent even when the shop is closed during a lockdown is not helping his financial situation.
Seychelles reopened its borders to all visitors on March 25 except directly from South Africa and recently added Brazil and India. Since then, around 20,000 visitors have landed in the 115-island archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.
Wedding planner Jean-Luc Lablache of Seyromance told SNA that though the business started picking up in May, there are many uncertainties.
“There are clients that are unable to confirm their bookings. At the moment, we are restricted to weddings with five people maximum – the couple, their two witnesses, and the civil officer, and with that, we have already reached the limit. I have forward bookings where the client wants to come into the country with their guests. We do not know when we will be able to accommodate 15 to 20 people. Moreover, with COVID cases still going up, the indication shows that we should be going in another lockdown,” said Jean-Luc Lablache.
On the positive side, Christian D’Offay of Doffay Car Rental said that business is booming, with all cars fully booked. He outlined that “there are so many bookings coming in that I have to refer clients to other car hires.” He, however, raised a point of concern following two recent cancellations.
“I’ve had two cancellations today and upon asking the reason behind it, I was told that it is due to the COVID rise that is happening in the country. These are the first cancellations that I’ve received and I hope that this does not continue,”
When asked about his backup plans should more clients start canceling their reservations, D’Offay outlined that he will have to get assistance to pay his employees or else he will need to consider redundancy, something that he does not wish to happen.