We have tried to highlight some of the key changes which might interest our stakeholders:

 

Management Plans

Plans on how to manage the conservation and visitor activities inside the National Parks are currently being developed for Curieuse and Port Launay/Baie Ternay marine parks, with public consultation meetings underway. These will be completed in the first quarter of 2018 and will form the foundation for all conservation activities in these areas. Next year – management plans will be developed for Morne Seychellois, Ste Anne, Iles Cocos and Veuve Special Reserve. Please keep an eye and ear out for notifications of public consultations, advertised in the newspaper and on the radio.

 

Trail and signage information

We conducted an external review of the tourism experiences offered within the National Parks and the findings highlighted some areas for immediate action. We want to make it clear to our stakeholders that we take these issues seriously and are working to address concerns. As a result, SNPA will be systematically installing trail signage, information and interpretation boards throughout the National Parks, using a newly developed Brand Guideline to ensure that all information is clear, attractive and well placed.  We would like to thank the support of our private sector partners that have helped advise us and act as a sounding-board for the development of these initiatives. We want to continue these forms of collaboration. We hope to have this all in place by October 2018 and will keep you updated on progress

 

Website

“Where do I find a map of the trails?” – good question! The answer is the new SNPA website www.spna.org. The newly revamped website contains detailed descriptions of each National Park, photos and information for visitors. There is a new Hiking Guide to Seychelles which will soon be available for free on the SNPA website – download the entire guide or just the specific trail you require. Each new information board will contain a QR code, click it and it will take you to the correct page on the website. Oh, and we forgot to mention, the Strategic Plans, management plans and assessments will be available to the public on the website too! Please direct visitors to this website, so everyone can have an enjoyable and safe experience in the National Parks.

 

Upgrading tourism infrastructure

Over the last few years SNPA’s capital budget has been insufficient to address the maintenance requirements of our tourism infrastructure. The result has been a general degradation of buildings and shelters. Good news – times are changing! We have already upgraded the Doctor’s House on Curieuse (thanks in part to our partners). We are currently upgrading the Veuve Special Reserve visitor centre and boardwalk. Hopefully this year Curieuse will receive a new visitor and interpretation centre, barbeque facilities for operators and ranger accommodation – the island is also going solar! Each management plan will identify appropriate infrastructure for each site, which will be prioritised over the next two years.

 

Entrance fee collection

Each year we welcome more visitors to the National Parks, but the efficiency of how we collect entrance fees has not changed. We will be introducing an online booking system, which will enable visitors and operators to book in advance, as well as placing kiosks at key departure points. The result will be a quicker system with less cash changing hands with SNPA rangers when you arrive. We are currently designing the collection system and will provide more details during the year, along with user information in the newspaper and notices will be placed at the entrance to National Parks in advance. The aim is to soft launch the collection system by September 2018.

 

Revenue retention

Entrance fees collected at National Parks are not retained by SNPA but revert to the government’s consolidated budget. This will also change. From 2019, any entrance or mooring fees collected by SNPA will be retained and spent directly on conservation management and continuing to improve the park facilities, in line with the activities outlined in management plans. This is an important milestone for the organisation to demonstrate the clear link between visitor spending and conservation effectiveness. Equally important, the bold reinvestment strategy needs to be financially sustainable. SNPA is developing a number of initiatives but one glaring issue is that entrance fees have not changed at National Parks for the last decade! A study with visitors last year demonstrated that an increase in fees would not reduce the number of visits (which have increased annually for the last six years). As a result, SNPA will gradually align fees with demand and monitor the situation closely. From January 1, 2019 (over a year away) the entrance fee for Curieuse and Ste Anne marine parks will increase for non-residents only. Entrance for residents will remain free. This change will enable SNPA to significantly improve its facilities and conservation activities. We will also make it clear how revenue is generated and where it is spent. We have a solution for this below!

 

SNPA Board of Directors

SNPA would like to welcome its new Board, consisting of members from the public and private sectors. We specifically invited representatives of the private sector to strengthen our partnerships with the tourism industry, utilise their experience and demonstrate greater transparency. Our Board has a clear mandate to support the implementation of the Strategic Plan and will oversee how retained revenue will be spent and reported. SNPA and the Board will produce an annual report, which will be made available to the public through the SNPA website.

 

So, there is a lot going on and we realise this is a lot of information. You may have questions and SNPA aims to improve its communication with the public, finalising its communication strategy by end of July 2018. We will continue to provide regular updates online and in the newspaper. Hopefully this has highlighted that SNPA acknowledges some of the previous challenges and is actively trying to address them, but we can only achieve this vision with support and input from our stakeholders. We are reminding members of the public that our Hotline 2818800 is open on a 24hr basis or contact us 4225114 during normal working hours. Join us on this journey!