The Seychelles is diversifying its marketing away from the beach and promoting activities, attractions and the direct twice-weekly British Airways flight to families.

Direct service

“We are focusing more on raising awareness of activities for families now that we have the direct flights which are really good for this market.” says Eloise Vidot, UK Marketing Executive at the Seychelles Tourist Office.

She highlights the islands’ walking trails, historical plantation houses and cultural attractions such as the new museum in Victoria, Le Jardin Du Roi Spice Garden, tea plantations and trails and the Takamaka Bay rum distillery.

The direct flight has contributed to significant tourism growth from the UK. “Out of the UK, we have seen double figure growth year-on-year for the past three to four years,” says Vidot. Last year, the number of UK visitors rose 12%.

Nikki Hain, Product Manager at Premier Holidays, says holidaymakers are more inclined to travel around once they arrive in the Seychelles because the journey from the UK is quicker. Previously visitors had to connect in places like Dubai.

“More and more holidaymakers are choosing to island hop once they arrive as they are spending less time travelling there,” she says. “Constance Ephélia on Mahé is a popular choice before taking a boat over to Denis Private Island or Cerf Island Resort. Island hopping really enhances a Seychelles holiday and allows travellers to see the best of the country.”

Tailor-made tour operator Audley is expecting its clients to go even further afield to islands where conservation is key. It is focusing on ‘eco-luxe’ travel for 2020, particularly outside of the mainstream islands, and recommends Alphonse Island Lodge on Alphonse island, an hour from Mahé, and Six Senses on Félicité.

“They both have elements based on luxury as well as marine and environmental conservation and activities,” says Sheena Gunnoo, a Travel Specialist at Audley and expert on hidden beaches.

Mahé, Praslin & La Digue

With 115 islands, the Seychelles’ bio-diversity is as huge as its resident giant tortoises. From lush mountains and deserted sandy beaches to tropical jungle and abundant plant and wildlife, the variety of product on offer is extensive.

Its eco-credentials are first-rate too. Seychelles was the first country in the world to include conservation in its constitution and one of the first to tackle packaging, banning commercial use of plastic utensils in 2017.

Mahé, the biggest of the islands, offers the widest variety of hotels, shops, markets and restaurants as well as the capital city Victoria to explore. It is often twinned with Praslin - 15 minutes by air or an hour by high-speed catamaran. Here, visitors will find pristine beaches, turtle hatching sites (also on Mahé and Bird Island) and rare plants including the pelvis-shaped coco-de-mer, found only in the island’s Vallée de Mai and on Curieuse.

The Indian Ocean’s warm, crystal-clear waters and abundant marine life are a draw for scuba divers and snorkellers. Sailing around the inner islands is also safe and easy, with less than 32 miles between mooring grounds. Bareboat, crewed boats and day charters on modern yachts and traditional sailing vessels are offered by charter companies on Mahé and Praslin.

Active holidaymakers will find excellent walking on the Salazie nature trail, Mahé, home to the rare Seychelles scops-owl. Golfers will find a challenge on the 18-hole Constance Lemuria course in Praslin and the nine-hole Seychelles Golf Club, Mahé.

Accommodation on the two islands ranges from luxury international brands such as Banyan Tree, Raffles and Hilton to four-star resorts and affordable family-run guesthouses.

This year, Hilton’s Allamanda hotel is offering complimentary car hire to guests to encourage them to explore Mahé. Its Northolme hotel has upgraded its public areas and will add a rum shack.

Club Med is scheduled to open a resort on the island of Sainte Anne, 4km from Mahe, later this year.

Laid-back La Digue is a popular day trip from Praslin (15 minutes by ferry) but it’s worth encouraging clients to stay a few nights. Cycling is a great way to explore La Digue’s L’Union Estate and vanilla plantation or visitors can slow it down and plod along in an ox cart to Rene Payet Veuve Reserve, home to the endemic Seychelles Paradise Flycatcher.

La Digue has one of the world’s most photographed beaches, the white-powder Anse Source d’Argent which has featured in many films and TV advertisements.

Outer private islands

Privacy, exclusivity and the absence of footprints is a major appeal of the Seychelles - especially in the outer islands.

Visitors to Fregate Island Private’s 16 luxury residences will find themselves in the company of hundreds of exotic birds and 3,500 free-roaming Giant Aldabra tortoises when not relaxing on the exquisite, deserted beaches of Anse Victorin and Anse Macquereau.

Silhouette Island is home to one of the Seychelles’ two rainforests and a plethora of rare plants, incense trees, endemic animals and the five-star Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort. The Grand Barbe trail, which runs from one side of Silhouette island to the other, offers a challenging hike when the beach palls. Just to the north of Silhouette is the exclusive 11-villa North Island, popular with celebrities - the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge spent their honeymoon there.

Six Senses Zil Pasyon on Félicité, only accessible by helicopter or speedboat, offers 28 private pool villas, a spa, yoga pavilion and dining options inspired by the Seychellois spice route.

On Desroches Island, a 35-minute flight from Mahé, the Four Seasons Resort Seychelles offers suites, villas and residences, water-sports, diving, a children’s programme and a tortoise sanctuary.

Guests on Cousine Island can relax among endemic vegetation and one million nesting birds including the rare brush warbler and Seychelles toc-toc. Two conservation officers are on hand to organise guided walks, deep-sea fishing, scuba diving and snorkelling trips.

Marlin fishing is a draw on Denis Private Island, which is perched on the northern edge of the Seychelles bank. The 375-acre coral island offers 25 elegant villas and pristine beaches.

An hour from Mahe, remote Alphonse offers excellent fly fishing, diving and snorkelling with manta rays and sailfish and turtle hatching monitoring. New for 2020 is a free diving experience and two Creole-style luxury beach villas which sleep up to eight adults and four children.

Bird Island, the northernmost island in the Seychelles, is (unsurprisingly) home to millions of birds including sooty terns, fairy terns and common noddies, and is a nesting site for hawksbill and green turtles including Esmeralda, the world’s largest. It is also popular with divers, with the sea floor dropping to 5,000 feet.

French luxury cruise line Ponant has a nine-day round-trip cruise from Mahé on Le Bougainville, departing November 18. The voyage visits eight islands including Aride, Curieuse, Praslin, Desroches and La Digue, from £3,780pp.

Where to book it

HAYES & JARVIS - 01293 762 456

A nine-night holiday to Mahé, Praslin and La Digue starts from £3,099pp. It includes three nights half-board at the five-star Constance Ephélia Resort, Mahé, three nights B&B at the five-star Le Domaine De L’Orangerarie, La Digue, three nights B&B at the five-star Constance Lemuria Resort, Praslin, flights from London and transfers.

hayesandjarvis.co.uk