alain thumb medium200 306In an attempt to improve the visitors’ experience whilst conserving the authenticity of Mission Lodge - one of Seychelles’ most valuable heritage sites - four local leading construction companies  have pledge their support to help bring back this site to its original splendour.


Recently the Minister for Tourism and Culture, Alain St Ange and the chief executive officer (CEO) of the Seychelles Heritage Foundation (SHF), Patrick Nanty laid the foundation stone for the re-development of Mission Lodge. This marked the beginning of a project that will see the creation of a reception area and a visitor’s information centre with a gallery as well as a cafeteria, larger parking space and toilet facilities.


Amongst the distinguished guests present at the ceremony, there was the Principal Secretary for Culture, Benjamine Rose, Chief Executive Officer of the National Arts Council, Jimmy Savy, the District Administrator of Port Glaud, Egbert Aglae and the four construction companies working on the project namely Vijay Construction, Laxmanbhai Construction, Shreeji Construction and Allied Builders.


Re-development Project of Mission LodgeDuring his opening remarks, Mr Nanty thanked the four contractors whose combined contribution of SCR1 million helped make the project a reality. A special thanks was also given to Constance Ephelia Resort who offered to provide information signs and naming each of the endemic plants found within the heritage site. Mr Nanty mentioned that the re-development project of Mission Lodge is aimed at making the site more visitor friendly and safe. In fact, the central pathway will be upgraded for comfort of visitors including the re-installation of a stone surface and the installation of soft lighting for any late evening activities. There will also be the restoration, cordoning and reconstruction on certain parts of the ruins to conserve the site and its history.


Furthermore, Mr Nanty revealed that much improved signage that blends well with the environment will be placed principally in the proximity of the ruins to provide visitors with an enriching insight. According to Mr Nanty, he believes that providing visitors with proper information will in turn help them be more knowledgeable and responsible of the site’s surroundings during their visits.


For his part, Minister St Ange also thanked the four contractors and Constance Ephelia Resort for their key participation stating that “it is a win-win situation for the country when we all work together. The Ministry of Tourism and Culture is committed to keeping the doors open to the private sector because we want you to keep on being not just the face of Seychelles but also the backbone that our country needs” he said.


The Tourism Minister went on to explain that, “the better we understand where we come from, the better we are able to understand where we are and where we are heading tomorrow as a nation”. This was in reference with the five cultures that are part and parcel of Seychelles’ heritage, one being Africa. “By 1872, around 2,500 African slaves in Seychelles were liberated and amongst them were many children. These ruins are a reminder of the settlement and the school which represents a more humane endeavour by others to provide shelter and education to children. It’s now up to us to conserve this site and tell its history,” said Minister St Ange.


The Tourism Minister is hopeful that the re-development project of Mission Lodge and its new facilities will certainly bring added value to the site and attract more visitors as well as boost the site’s application to become an UNESCO World Heritage Site.


About Mission Lodge (Venn’s Town)

The Mission Lodge was originally known as Venn's Town (named after an Aglican Missionary, Henry Venn) and was set up in the late 19th century by a Missionary Society. Following the abolition of slavery, around 2,500 African slaves were set free on Mahé by 1870. Few years later, the colonial government at that time had accepted the proposal made by the Missionary Society to set up a school for the liberated African slave’s children which officially opened in 1876. Today, the ruins of this former school are still clearly visible thus making Mission Lodge one of the most visited tourist attractions in Seychelles. From the shaded and peaceful confines of a gazebo where Queen Elizabeth II once sat for tea, visitors can enjoy some truly spectacular views of Mahé’s green forest landscapes, mountains and azure coastline.


Above photos:

Top- The popular viewing point at Mission Lodge boasting of breath-taking views. Middle left- The signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Seychelles Heritage Foundation and the four private contractors. Middle Right- The Minister for Tourism and Culture, Alain St Ange addressing his speech to the assembled distinguished guests. Bottom- Minister St Ange and the chief executive officer (CEO) of the Seychelles Heritage Foundation (SHF), Patrick Nanty placing the foundation stone.