The Seychelles, an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean off the east coast of Africa, has long been banking on its pristine ecosystem as the main selling point for its tourism industry, which it relies on for 67 percent of total GDP. The archipelago is home to dozens of endemic plant and animal species, and some of the largest seabird colonies in the world. As the number of tourists continues to climb year after year, the Seychelles government is stuck between promoting the industry while also ensuring its ecosystem remains protected.
Half of the total territory of the Seychelles, about 455 square kilometers, is protected. The country has two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve, which supports one of the three main areas of coco-de-mer forest still remaining, and the Aldabra Atoll, the world’s largest raised coral atoll, known for its giant-tortoise population.
In 2015, the government introduced a temporary ban on the construction of new hotels, but hotel upgrades started before the ban will add another three thousand hotel rooms, totaling nine thousand.
Major hotel groups are making an effort to limit their environmental impact, such as growing their own vegetables and reducing their energy use. Last year, the government launched the Destination 2023 master plan, which aims to increase investment in sustainable tourism, engage Seychellois more actively in the industry, and support smaller establishments. A Sustainable Tourism Label was created and is expected to be awarded to half of the country’s existing hotel chains for their efforts to curb pollution.
These are positive steps, but the country still imports 90 percent of its consumer products, and produces most of its electricity by means of diesel generators.