Seychelles tourism: Island paradise targets more beach-goers

Story highlights

  • Tourism makes up over 20% of Seychelles gross domestic product
  • The island nation has seen a decline in visitor numbers since 2008
  • Air Seychelles recorded a loss of $12.5 million in 2010/11
  • Not everyone is happy with the way UAE is investing in Seychelles
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(CNN)With its pristine beaches, warm water and coral reefs, Seychelles has long been a must-visit destination for jet-setters from all over the world. They come from Europe, the Middle East and Asia to unwind in the sun. But not all the hosts can afford to be so relaxed.

The country, which is made up of 115 islands, will host 215,000 international tourists this year, and these visitors will contribute 21.7% of its gross domestic product. Indeed, the World Bank says Seychelles' economy is "highly dependent" on tourism. Capitalizing on the nation's natural beauty, and making this sector a success, is crucial if the country wants to retain the top spot in African human development rankings.
    Decline in visitors
    As the global financial crisis of 2008 stopped many people from taking holidays, the Seychelles was hit hard. That year, the country's GDP contracted by 2.1%. Tourism contributed close to 30% of GDP in 2008, but by 2010 that number was closer to 25%. Since then numbers have continued to fall.
    Another reason for this decline, according to Euromonitor International, is competition from Sri Lanka, which ended a violent civil war in 2010. The research group says visitors to Sri Lanka are from the "same demographic as tho