(Seychelles News Agency) – The Seychelles government announced on Thursday that it is finalising an agreement for a new tourism development to be built on Long Island.
Vice President Ahmed Afif made the announcement in a Cabinet press briefing at State House.
“We are in the final stages of the talks and we hope to be done within this month or the next,” he said.
Long Island is located in the Sainte Anne Marine National Park close to Round and Moyenne Islands – and a ten-minute boat ride away from Mahe, the main island of the archipelago.
The small island that used to be a restricted area as it was the location of the country’s main prison, before it was relocated to Montagne Posee on Mahe.
Over the last 18 years, the island had been leased to a French company, Polus, in partnership with TriGranit, a Hungary-based real-estate company, to build a large tourism establishment there.
However, although some construction had been completed, the project was not fully materialised, and, according to Afif, the Seychelles authorities had recently “entered into negotiations with the developers in order to regain the island”.
Following the latest talks with Polus, it was agreed that it would hand the island back to the authorities on the conditions the government pays $12 million “to recoup the construction and development it had implemented so far,” said Afif.
This turn of events has prompted the authorities to look for other investors to take on the project.
“When looking for prospective investors, we had set the condition that whoever was interested would have to do so for at least $20 million,” he explained.
Initially four companies – three foreign and one Seychellois – showed their interest.
“One of the international companies did not show further interest, and after setting our price, the Seychellois company did not make a monetary bid,” he added.
As a result, two companies remained of which Al Sharqia Holding, a company based in the United Arab Emirates, outbid its competitor with a $23 million offer.
The sum will be split into two portions with the first $12 million paid to Polus so that it releases its current lease on the island and the remaining $11 million will be paid to the government.
The company will then have nine months to present its proposal to the planning and investment authorities.
“I believe this development is one that will be good for the country as it will create jobs and bring in foreign exchange,” Afif said.
The Vice President also revealed that after 20 years, the investors will have to pay the government a lease fee of $150,000 per year.
Long Island will be leased for 99 years.