Seychelles, blessed with the unrivalled diversity of 115 granite and coralline islands, a vibrant Seychellois Creole culture and a reputation for political stability and social harmony, has its sights set on bright, new horizons. With near-perfect weather, no cyclones and a complete absence of dangerous and poisonous creatures, Seychelles lives up to its reputation of being a modern-day ‘Garden of Eden.’
A burgeoning array of new hotels such as Qatar and Emirates, together with renovation programmes for existing small hotels, guest houses and self-catering establishments and exciting, new investment projects, together, herald a new dawn of opportunity. Today, more than ever, Seychelles has the possibility of realising its huge potential as a destination offering tranquillity and quality with value for money - all in surrounds of breathtaking natural beauty.
In a resounding expression of confidence in the country’s future, leading foreign airlines such as Emirates and Qatar have, in recent years, commenced operations to Seychelles, with still more airlines scheduled to come on line. Through their increased traffic and legendary marketing prowess, an increasing number of visitors are being introduced to the magic of these tropical island jewels.
The national airline, Air Seychelles, continues to fly the Creole spirit on non-stop scheduled flights from London, Paris, and Rome in the European sector with regional and peripheral sectors including Mauritius, South Africa, Chennaie and Singapore.
Echoing the growing belief in Seychelles, such prestigious hotel companies as Four Seasons, Banyan Tree, Hilton, Constance, Le Méridien, Southern Sun and Beachcomber already enjoy a presence on the islands with others such as Raffles, Per Aquum and Shangri-la set to follow suit in the near future with an enticing assortment of accommodation products and services.
This groundswell of interest and investment in the future of Seychelles combined with the Government’s determination to create a user-friendly, enabling environment on the ground that is rich in infrastructure, is ushering in a new era of promise and prosperity for these beautiful islands that is everywhere apparent. Similar to the Cayman Islands of some years ago, Seychelles’ rapidly expanding offshore sector is now attracting potential investors with a raft of incentives destined to position the islands as an important offshore centre.
Against the backdrop of increasing confidence, prosperity and the across-the-board development of national resources and infrastructure, are changes to the laws regarding property ownership which are opening the country up to increased foreign investment. Procedures, for example, regarding foreign ownership of property in the environment-conscious, Seychelles Islands have recently been streamlined to offer freehold title and residency rights for owners and their immediate family.
“The residential tourism market has huge potential,” says Vivian Rassool of Arriva Real Estate (Realty Seychelles), and Vision 21, the islands’ tourism master plan, is well under way with a focus on five-star resorts with priority given to low-density, real estate projects with an ‘eco-conscience’.
Since years, Seychelles boasts a strong conservation record with almost 50% of its limited landmass set aside as national parks and other reserves and with development both restricted and subject to environmental concerns. Having deliberately avoided taking the mass-tourism route, this wonderfully pristine archipelago, many of whose islands have slumbered, untouched, since the dawn of time has, by virtue of its very isolation and relative inaccessibility, escaped the ravages of other places where dense populations and even denser development are very much the order of the day. Among myriad other attributes, this makes it very appealing to discerning travellers and individuals in search of a once-in-a-lifetime investment opportunity.
Eye-catching developments such as 95-acre Eden Island, situated just off the main coast of the principal island of Mahé, which comprises 450 luxury two and three-bedroom apartments, maisons and private villas with private moorings at a starting price of roughly 155,000 pounds sterling, is showing one way forward. Another is Zil Pasyon – Creole for Island of Passion – close to La Digue, where 28, state-of the art, designer, hill-top residences that blend sublimely with their Jurassic landscape may be purchased from between $U.S. 4 and 12 million. Several other exclusive properties are available for purchase, with Raffles, Banyan Tree and also Four Seasons offering full-service, villa-for-sale options. In addition, newly-constructed airstrips on some of the lesser-known islands provide investors with an even broader investment choice.