(Seychelles News Agency) - The Seychelles National Parks Authority (SNPA) is in the process of revising entrance fees for national parks to ensure better maintenance and sustainability of parks and trails, the first price increase since 2009.
The authority, which becomes financially autonomous this year, conducted a systematic review of its products and services in 2017, which highlighted the urgent need to reinvest in national parks facilities.
The Chief Executive of the authority, Selby Remy, said previously that SNPA’s budget was not sufficient to maintain and upgrade these services. The revised fees generated will be reinvested into the national parks, Remy said.
SNPA currently manages six marine and three terrestrial national parks spread over the three main islands of Seychelles – a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean.
“Entrance fees to marine national parks have not changed since 2009 and are priced well below other sites,” said Remy, who adds that “going from a budget-dependent authority, to one that is able to retain its revenues, requires a new approach that is commercially viable and conservation-driven at the same time,” Remy said.
“This means a comprehensive evaluation of all our parks and ensuring they are sustainable, both in terms of our organisation and the areas we are charged with protecting.”
Remy added that “our fees should remain competitive but they need to reflect the cost of our conservation agenda.”
SNPA has started to align user fees starting with the Curieuse marine national park. Its entrance fee will increase from $15 to $22 per non-resident on June 1, 2019. Entrance for residents remains free.
Curieuse Island is a small granitic island, located off the north coast of Praslin – the second-most populated island of Seychelles, an archipelago of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean.
The island is the only other island apart from Praslin where the endemic coco de mer grows in its natural state. Curieuse attracts the greatest number of visitors amongst all the national parks, and a proportion of fees generated will help subsidise activities on other ecologically-important sites.
“Curieuse will receive a new visitor centre with a small restaurant, barbeque facilities and installation of a solar power system in 2019,” said Remy.
“Morne Seychellois and Praslin national parks are critical conservation sites that require constant restoration activities. We are installing new signage, trail markers and safety sign throughout, but no fees have ever been charged for these services,” explained Remy.
The Veuve Special Reserve on La Digue – the third most populated island - is a critical habitat and the SNPA has started to renovate some infrastructures at the reserve.
“This is an important attraction to visitors to the island, and has been in need of repair for years. We will introduce an entrance fee of $11 for non-guided visits and $15 for guided visits for non-residents from June 2019. This will help ensure that the site meets the standards of our visitors and La Digue residents,” said Remy.
The SNPA is entrusted with the protection and management of all marine and terrestrial national parks in the Seychelles, including the Ste Anne, Silhouette, Port Launay, Baie Ternay, Ile Cocos, Curieuse and Saint Pierre marine parks, as well as the Morne Seychellois National Park, the Praslin National Park and the Veuve Special Reserve on La Digue.
Aside from administering controls on access and activities within each of the parks, and collecting visitors’ fees, the SNPA is also responsible for research and conservation in collaboration with recognised institutions within Seychelles and around the world, to ensure the protection of all species and ecosystems within the parks.
Source: Sharon Enesta -Seychelles News Agency