The Seychelles is currently suffering from the worst heroin addiction epidemic in the world, with almost one in 10 of the work force and 6.8% of the overall population, addicted to the drug. That is higher than anywhere else, even Kingston Jamaica or Baltimore USA.
Yet this tragic heroin epidemic has had no adverse impact on the tourism industry in the Islands where tourist arrivals have continued to increase, on average by 10% per annum over the last seven years,
With 115 islands, policing the illegal import of the drug into the Seychelles is difficult. But because the government treats heroin addiction as a chronic disease, rather than criminalising the addicts, the impact of heroin has been limited to the addicts. Treatment is readily available rather than forcing addicts to steal to fund their habit, which in this case would probably come from hotel guests.
Out of an estimated 6,000 addicts, around 2,000 addicts are registered and undergoing treatment with the nationwide methadone maintenance program. It is believed that 68% of those undergoing treatment are in full time employment, many within the tourism industry itself.
Hotel Partners Africa research shows that hotel values are the highest in the Seychelles across all of Africa, and values having been rising at an impressive 7% per annum.
The value of hotels is intrinsically linked to demand for hotel rooms. As such the decision by the government to treat addiction as a disease has not only let the affected find help and avoid a criminal record, but it has also helped protect international hospitality investors.