Tourism Pioneers plaque unveiled honouring eight significant contributors to the building of the Seychelles’ tourism industry

A plaque bearing the names of eight individuals who have made significant contribution to the Seychelles’ tourism industry was unveiled at the Tourism Pioneers Park on Tuesday, October 2.

This is the second group of tourism pioneers whose names have been engraved on ceramic tiles and displayed at the pioneers park.

The unveiling was done by the Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine, Ambassador Maurice Loustau-Lalanne, joined by the Chief Executive of the Seychelles Tourism Board, Sherin Francis.

The ceremony at the premises of the Seychelles Tourism Academy, was attended by the Principal Secretary for Tourism, Anne Lafortune, the Principal of the Seychelles Tourism Academy (STA) Flavien Joubert, staff and students of the academy, as well as family members of the tourism pioneers.

The names of the eight pioneers -- Sir James Mancham, Mr Louis D’Offay, Mrs Maryse Eichler, Mrs Zita Monthy, Mr Adrien Michel, Mr John de Matta Mascarenhas, Mr Richard Mancham and Mrs Raymonde Delorie – were revealed on Saturday during the annual Tourism Ball.

Sir James Mancham was a promoter of the tourism industry during his days as the country’s first Chief Minister, and later first Prime Minister under the British Colonial rule. He was in the building of what is now the Seychelles International Airport at Pointe Larue, and was also the first person to disembark from a wide-bodied plane in Seychelles on July 4, 1971 -- the BOAC SUPER VC10.

Mr Louis D’Offay, was a well-known and respected hotelier from Praslin whose greatest success story is Hotel L'Archipel, which welcomed its first clients in 1987. Mr D’Offay also served for 15 years as the chairman of the Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association, SHTA and was also a long serving member on the Board of the Seychelles Tourism Board and its predecessor the Seychelles Marketing Authority.

Mrs Maryse Eichler’s journey in the tourism industry include her role as head of the Seychelles’ first Hotel School starting in 1979. She was also the chief executive of the Seychelles Hotels Group and member of the Accommodation and Catering Board. Mrs Eichler will also be remembered for managing ‘Le Pomme Canelle’ a restaurant that was located at La Plaine St Andre, as well as her time at the Northolme hotel.

Mrs Zita Monthy’s achievement is having successfully turned a souvenir shop selling local handicrafts into the Carefree guesthouse at Anse Faure, where she was not only the welcoming proprietor but also the lady with a magic touch in the kitchen, providing her guests with tasty dishes, especially Creole cuisine.

Raymonde Delorie is linked to the Beau-Vallon Beach Hotel in the 1940s, which was situated where Le Méridien Fisherman’s Cove Hotel is located. The hotel was built by her husband Jourdan Delorie who later died in the 1950s, leaving the running of the hotel to his wife.

Lorna Reeves, the daughter of Raymonde Delorie says she can still remember accompanying her mother to the pier as a young child, along with her siblings, to meet guests coming to stay at the hotel, which was equipped with 12 double rooms and at least three cottages.

The three other tourism pioneers are linked to one particular hotel, the Continental Hotel, which was situated in town. The Continental Hotel was built by Adrien Michel in the late 1940s. It was later acquired by John de Matta Mascarenhas, of Portuguese origins who renamed it “Hotel de Mascarenhas.” The same hotel was later bought by Mr Richard Mancham, a successful businessman and the father of Sir James Mancham who reverted it to its former name of “Continental Hotel.” That was in the 1950s.

The Tourism Pioneers Park was opened on September 26, 2015, by the former president James Michel and the first eight pioneers were unveiled on September 27, 2016.  A list of over a hundred names was compiled after the public was invited to nominate individuals they believe should be recognised and all of the individuals honoured in 2016 and 2017 were featured on that list.

Mrs Francis said: “The names of Sir James Mancham, Mrs Eichler and Mr D’Offay who passed away this year, as well as Mrs Monthy who died in 2016, were also on the original list compiled two years ago, and we felt that this is the best time for them to be honoured as we still have vivid memories of them, alongside the other four departed veterans.”

In his remarks, Minister Loustau-Lalanne highlighted the fact that it’s thanks to the efforts of dedicated individuals who have been instrumental in growing tourism that the industry has blossomed over the years and is today the pillar of the economy.

“In most cases these pioneers set out into unchartered waters with few points of reference beyond their own desire and determination to see Seychelles’ nascent tourism industry flourish,” he added.

Both Minister Loustau-Lalanne and the Principal of the STA, Flavien Joubert, commented on the strategic location of the Tourism Pioneers Park near the gate of the Seychelles Tourism Academy, saying it will allow students wishing to pursue a career in the tourism industry to follow the history and truly appreciate the industry.

“With this Pioneers Park located at the academy students will now start here, to learn about our pioneers who have their names on these walls, and who dedicated their lives energy and know-how for our tourism industry to be the success that it is today,” said Mr Joubert.

The honouring of tourism pioneers has now become a tradition as part of activities to mark Tourism Week.

TOURISM PIONEER PLAQUE UNVELING CEREMONY