Environment impact: Final decision on Reef Hotel project in Seychelles yet to be taken
Seychelles’ Ministry of Environment is awaiting the completion of the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) before a final decision can be taken on the construction of the Reef Hotel project, said a top official on Tuesday.
The statement was made by the Minister for Environment, Flavien Joubert, when answering a question in the National Assembly brought forth by Kelly Samynadin, the elected Linyon Demokratik Seselwa (LDS) member for the eastern district of Au Cap.
Samynadin asked the minister to explain to the National Assembly what his ministry’s position was on the Reef Hotel project.
“The role of the Ministry in this project is to ensure that all procedures are completed, all environmental and social aspects are taken into account and ensure that all analysis are done in an acceptable manner before making a decision on whether the project can go ahead in the same way as was initially proposed,” said Joubert.
As part of the EIA, a public meeting was held recently in which the main point discussed was the proposed construction of villas that would be erected on reclaimed land in the sea surrounding the hotel. The reclamation would include two small islands of 12,000 square metres constructed for water villas and a public restaurant.
Joubert said that the evaluation processes are still ongoing at the moment and the government is currently considering all submissions made and allowing time for the consultants to complete the EIA. This will then be made public before any final decisions can be made.
“There are various options before us where it concerns the reclamation of the bay, such as modification, changing it completely, or refusing some components of the project,” he added.
The project, called “Reefresh”, is expected to have 200 rooms, restaurants, tennis courts, a community lounge area and an infinity pool among other facilities. The total investment to be made when construction is completed is expected to be around $58 million, with a projected $50 million expected to go directly to the government of Seychelles in the form of taxes.
Reef Hotel was the very first tourist establishment of an international standard to be opened in the 115-island archipelago in the western Indian Ocean in 1972 with 150 rooms.
The hotel, which was once a popular venue for seminars and local entertainment events, hosted the first Tourism Ball and the opening of the U-first tourism campaign in December 1993.
It closed down in 1997 and in 2001 it was bought by the Beachcomber hotel group from Mauritius. In 2019, the government approved the sale of the former Reef Hotel to Krishnan Malhotra.