Mason's Travel

28 September 2022

No Comments

50 Years of Mason’s Travel: Interview with Kathy and Alan Mason

In the lead up to Mason’s Travel’s Golden Anniversary, TODAY in Seychelles sat down with the company’s founder, Mrs. Kathy Mason, and current managing director, Mr. Alan Mason for an exclusive interiew, as they reflected on 50 years spent at the helm of Seychelles’ most established Destination Management Company (DMC). 

Mason’s Travel, which celebrates its 50th anniversary today (28 September), was founded by Mrs. Kathy Mason and Mr. Mickey Mason in 1972. From humble beginnings, operating tours in the St. Anne Marine Park with a single boat, to becoming a globally respected organization and one of the largest employers in Seychelles, Mason’s Travel has come a long way.


Tell us about Mason’s Travel’s journey. How did you decide to start a Destination Management business fifty years ago?

KMason: With the official opening of the International Airport in 1972, we anticipated a demand for new tourism services and experiences in Seychelles. At the time there were very few hotels and hardly any tours available to visitors, and very little for tourists to do outside of their hotels. We saw not only a gap in the market, but an opportunity to help people fall in love with Seychelles – with the authentic Seychelles that we too love so dearly.

We are proud to have been the first to create the St.Anne Marine Park Tour which we today call our Reef Safari Tour and also to pioneer the Praslin and La Digue Tours from Mahe, amongst many others.


What goals did you have at the time, and what was your biggest fear?

KMason: Our goal then – as it has always been – was to offer our clients an authentic experience of Seychelles. There is so much more to this destination than just beautiful beaches – we have rich culture, unique cuisine, diverse landscapes and an inimitable quality of life. We want our clients to experience all of this and to genuinely fall in love with the destination for all that it has to offer.

At the time, many of the players trying to establish themselves in our tourism industry were large, foreign companies, mainly from Europe, Kenya and Mauritius. They already had established systems and networks in place, with links to various global markets. We were just starting out – I was a young woman in my twenties and we certainly didn’t have the financial backing of these groups, nor their international networks, so just competing and surviving was a huge challenge. But we made it work. We introduced Seychelles to international travel partners – some of whom are now the biggest source of clients to Seychelles.


AMason: As a small island state, with all of our principle markets so far away, we have always been concerned about world events that are beyond our control. Over the years our business has survived war, economic recessions and natural disasters, each of which caused drastic reductions in the number of clients travelling from overseas. This has reinforced the need to diversify our markets as much as possible, and to make contingencies for these kinds of mass cancellations and displaced business.

Covid-19 demonstrated this on a whole new level when the global travel industry came to a complete standstill and business was completely interrupted. We were lucky that we had the systems in place that allowed us to pay all of our local partners and suppliers, and to mitigate the financial impact the pandemic had on them. Mason’s Travel has always been a solid base in Seychelles, with a strong commitment to our partners. We’re proud that we were able to hold it together, remain strong as a team and bounce back to contributing to Seychelles.


What was the tourism industry like fifty years ago?

KMason: It was unrecognizable from the tourism industry we see today. Prior to the opening of the airport, tourists could only access Seychelles via ship. There were very few hotels, very few activities for visitors and very few experienced people available to assist clients once they were in the destination.


AMason:  What I think we sometimes take for granted, these days, is that my mother and our earliest teams had to go out into the world and establish these markets in the first place. They had to go out and introduce the destination to overseas tour operators and convince them to A) sell Seychelles and B) to believe in our small team. They played a crucial role in the structuring of the destination’s visibility and made Seychelles more “bookable”, by creating packages and putting together systems for payment and reservations. Remember, there was no internet and none of these systems or services existed back then.

In many ways, the tourism industry we see in Seychelles today has been shaped by the work they did at the time.

Fortunately, today, the industry and air travel have come a long way and remote destinations are more accessible than ever before. As a more diverse client base has flooded the destination, the need for DMC services to help manage and assist growing numbers of clients from multiple countries and backgrounds, speaking multiple languages and seeking different experiences, is more crucial than ever before.


How do you feel that Mason’s Travel is now Seychelles’ top DMC after 50 years, and what will you describe as your biggest achievement?

AMason: We feel both incredibly proud and incredibly grateful to have reached the 50-year mark as a company: grateful for decades of support from our partners and clients, both local and international – and most especially from our team. And proud to work with some of the most talented, committed, and passionate people in the tourism industry.

We also cherish the role we have been able to play in the success story of our local partners. When we began working with them in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, many of them had small car hire businesses or simple guest houses – and are now some of the biggest players in the industry. It’s very rewarding to know that Mason’s Travel has been a part of their journey as they have become successful in their own right.


KMason: One of the things I am most proud of – has been the professional development of hundreds of Seychellois over the years, many of them young women. Some have spent most of their careers working and growing with Mason’s Travel. Many others have taken the skills that they learned with us and have gone on to start their own businesses, pursue their own dreams and contribute to the growth and development of Seychelles.

I’m also especially proud that, after all these years, Mason’s Travel has kept its reputation (globally) for authenticity, integrity, deep local knowledge and outstanding personal service. These qualities are timeless and are testament to the excellent people that we work with. These values have been the foundation of our success of the last 50 years, and will stand us in good stead for the next 50.


What is next for Mason’s Travel?

KMason: We’re committed to developing new markets and to broadening our portfolio – to working with new properties and new overseas partners, to make sure we can offer our clients the most diverse and authentic experiences available in the destination.


AMason: It’s notoriously difficult to predict what will happen next in the travel industry – this industry doesn’t exist in a vacuum and is incredibly sensitive to the influences around it: there are changing technologies, changing political climates and changing purchasing behaviours, to name just a few. But that is what makes it such an interesting industry to work in. Looking forward, I’m excited to see how Mason’s Travel will respond to those challenges, and the creative solutions and inspired innovations our team will meet them with.

Over the years, Mason’s Travel has also become so much more than just a DMC – we’re now a dynamic group of operations, including Mason’s Xchange, Mason’s Air and our three hotels:  Denis Island, CaranaBeach and Indian Ocean Lodge. I’m looking forward to some exciting developments at these properties and to hopefully adding a few more enticing, authentically Seychelles businesses – built by Seychellois – to the group in the next few years.


Originally published by TODAY in Seychelles on Wednesday, 28 September 2022. Subscribe to receive Seychelles latest news delivered daily to your inbox:

By A. Selwano for TODAY in Seychelles

Contact your Mason’s Travel Representative  for rates and packages.   |   |   +248 428 8888

Connect with us: