International

We’re working with India to ensure security in Indian Ocean: Seychelles

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with President of the Republic of Seychelles, James Alix Michel at Hyderabad House, in New Delhi on August 26, 2015. The Indian Ocean island's Tourism Minister Alain St. Ange, who was in Chennai to promote the country’s tourism industry, told 'The Hindu' in an interview that if India wants to play a role “in safeguarding the integrity of the Indian Ocean, and wants to be with us, it’s all fair and good.” Photo: Shanker Chakravarty

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with President of the Republic of Seychelles, James Alix Michel at Hyderabad House, in New Delhi on August 26, 2015. The Indian Ocean island's Tourism Minister Alain St. Ange, who was in Chennai to promote the country’s tourism industry, told 'The Hindu' in an interview that if India wants to play a role “in safeguarding the integrity of the Indian Ocean, and wants to be with us, it’s all fair and good.” Photo: Shanker Chakravarty  

India and Seychelles have “very close” relations and both counties are working together to ensure safety and security in the Indian Ocean, the island nation’s Tourism Minister said on Wednesday.

Alain St. Ange, who was in Chennai to promote the country’s tourism industry, told The Hindu in an interview that if India wants to play a role “in safeguarding the integrity of the Indian Ocean, and wants to be with us, it’s all fair and good”.

Naval base work to start this year

The Minister added that work will start this year in the Assumption Island to jointly develop a naval base by India and Seychelles.

“We are hoping work at this naval base will start this year because the Island belongs to the government. We have a small airstrip there anyway and we’re looking at it.”

The country has allocated a plot on the Assumption Island for the base, which will help enhance maritime security along India’s west and south coast. This initiative has come following China’s announcement that it would build its first African naval base in Djibouti.

‘Not an Indian base’

Mr. St. Ange , however, said it’s not right to call the Assumption Island facility an Indian naval base. “It’s not an Indian base; it’s a base of Seychelles to be built with support from India. We’re not giving the Island to India. What we’re doing is working with India to ensure safety and security in the Indian Ocean.”

He added that India is already helping Seychelles patrol the Indian Ocean. “When you leave the African waters, you enter the Seychelles waters in the Indian Ocean. So every time the world spoke of bandits they say in the Seychelles waters. Alone, Seychelles cannot patrol this wide area. We need friendly countries. And India is one of the supporting countries in this regard.”

Source of tourism

Mr. St. Ange has also said India is an important source of tourism for the island nation. Last year, about 8,000 Indians travelled to Seychelles to spend holidays. About 4,000 Indian tourists have travelled to Seychelles so far this year, said the Minister.

“We are neighbours, and Indians can travel visa-free to Seychelles. The connectivity is also good. We have five direct flights a week from Mumbai at acceptable rates for a four-hour flight.”

Tourism is its mainstay

The economy of this Indian Ocean country is heavily dependent on tourism. The country receives about 280,000 tourists a year a year, roughly three times of its population. The direct share of tourism in the economy 27 per cent, which goes up to 62 per cent if the indirect contribution is factored in, Mr. St. Ange said.

He added the main goal of his visit is it to get more Indian tourists to visit Seychelles from different cities. “India is not just Mumbai. It’s a big country… We hope in the long term we can have a flight from Chennai to Seychelles. But it will be only when the market is stimulated.”

Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Aug 10, 2020 4:43:00 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/We%E2%80%99re-working-with-India-to-ensure-security-in-Indian-Ocean-Seychelles/article14391831.ece

Next Story