MISCHIEF ALLEGED OVER MAURITIUS’ CLAIMS OF COST TO ATTEND VICTORIA CARNIVAL
The local daily ‘Today’ in the Seychelles rocked the proverbial boat when it played, wittingly or unwittingly, willing party to claims peddled by well known individuals within the Mauritius’ tourism public sector, which attempted to defend the island’s continued official absence from the Carnival International de Victoria inspite of underwriting the event under the Vanilla Island Cooperation.
Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority has had invitations from Seychelles Tourism since the inauguration of the event in 2011 but has chosen to remain absent for reasons best known to themselves. Last year in fact did embattled Karl Mootosamy’s band of merry men try to copy / paste the Seychelles Carnival in what turned out to be not only a major flop but landed egg all over their faces, when the Mauritius tourism minister had to offer explanations and literally apologies to the Seychelles to prevent damaging the otherwise cordial relations between the two island nations. Mootosamy, repeatedly reported here for alleged comments made vis a vis a hugely successful marketing juggernaut by STB – comments overheard and quoted by otherwise reliable sources from Port Louis – is thought to be behind the lack of formal participation of Mauritius in the Seychelles carnival with a float and has resisted any overtures to become a co-organizer of the event. La Reunion, already on board last year, is once again a joint organizer of the Carnaval de Carnivals, but for 2013 has also Zimbabwe come on board, leaving Mauritius once more out in the self appointed cold.
The report of the Today newspaper quoted a source in Mauritius blaming their absence on Seychellois demands for a payment of 100.000 Euros, to which Minister of Tourism and Culture Mr. Alain St. Ange responded factually as follows: ‘It is important to set the record straight to avoid any misunderstanding resulting from the article published or republished by the Today Newspaper on Tuesday 8th January 2013.
The article entitled "Mauritius undecided on participation at Seychelles Carnival" made reference to a sum of Euro 100,000 requested by Seychelles for their participation, and that this remains their concern and was so far stopping them to participate. This article has resulted with local Seychelles media and International correspondents seeking clarifications on the “100,000 Euros sponsorship fee’’ that the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority (MTPA) said it is “being requested” by the Seychelles Tourism Board for their participation into the third edition of the carnival.To participate in the annual Carnaval International de Victoria is free. There is no fee whatsoever to send a delegation to parade alongside the best and most known carnivals of the world and together with cultural troupes from the Community of Nations. This was made clear to Mauritius and to every other country sending delegations to Seychelles for the carnival. I need to clarify that it is only country’s offered to co-host the Carnival International de Victoria with Seychelles who are requested to make a financial contribution. This fee ensures that they have their logo on every marketing campaign and that their name appears on all carnival documentation. The countries who co-host the carnival also participate in the Press Conference and have the opportunity to sell their respective country to the gathered press attending the carnival. All the other participating countries, and there are many who make the trip annually, only have to pay board and lodging whilst in Seychelles and their own air travel costs.
The Mauritian Authorities had requested that Seychelles consider granting them board and lodging under the bilateral cooperation between the two countries, however this carnival is not covered under this bilateral cooperation. It is important to note that the carnival organizing committee does not make provision under its budget to cover the cost for participating countries. Each country’s delegation come to this Carnaval de Carnivals in Seychelles to showcase their culture, their people and the unique selling points of their respective country. For tourism destinations, it is a way to be seen, it is a way to be more visible in front of press who do not know the destination and who would not just write about the destination otherwise. Seychelles promises maximum coverage to all participating countries. The co-hosts of the 2013 carnival are working together to ensure that the press delegations covering their carnival is more impressive year on year, and that the expected coverage will ensure visibility of participating countries’.
Minister St.Ange said to the question posed to him if Seychelles really wanted to have Mauritius present at the event: ‘Yes, of course we do. This is why we have for three years consecutively been inviting them to be with us. They have always had the option to either only be a participant or be a co-host with Seychelles. We are saddened by this latest confusion arising about whether Mauritius will participate or not. The choice is theirs and theirs alone, but we should keep to facts and avoid printing untrue statements on the matter. We have always had the one story and proposal on the matter and this the Mauritius Authorities know well’.
Karl Mootosamy, CEO of MTPA, has increasingly come under pressure and attacks from the island’s tourism stakeholders for the lackluster campaigns, lack of vision and lack of inclusiveness, leading to the Maldives to overtake Mauritius in 2012 for the first time ever in number of tourism arrivals, with third placed Sri Lanka now breathing down the neck of Mauritius and ready to snatch the runners up spot in 2013, relegating Mauritius further down to the third rank.
‘I know you are not a friend of Karl and I cannot blame you. Lack of response to enquiries is a hallmark of his administration and many of us suffer the same highhanded fate. MTPA has run out of ideas and ran out of steam and his whispers to bring down whomever with him if he gets sacked should be called. Mauritius to ever lose the top spot to Maldives was unthinkable till it happened. And it happened in a year when they had a lot of political problems which affected tourism. Like Seychelles in 2008 we are also now at a watershed. Back then STB was radically overhauled when the private sector lost confidence in them. Look at them now. Little Seychelles, compared to our population and GDP, is known around the world and we have lost visibility. They are no threat to us in terms of numbers, they only have just over 200.000 arrivals and we have five times as much, but they got there by being creative. They court the media. They create events and our people then try to copy them like last year. First they tried to steal the carnival idea, then turned it into a shopping festival when it embarrassed the whole country and the financial results were a disaster. Things must change and I for one know that this latest spat is all Karl’s doing. He is envious and jealous of St. Ange [Seychelles Minister for Tourism and Culture] and his successes but does not see how St. Ange is constantly trying to reach out to Mauritius. Vanilla Islands is an example. There never was a better time for Karl to leave and we can then reform MTPA into a modern marketing machine like STB has become’ said a regular source yesterday, when discussing on email the report in the Today newspaper.
Last year a large press contingent had travelled to the Carnival Festival from Mauritius in the absence of an official delegation and it remains to be seen how or even if Mauritius will be represented this year by anyone else but the media again in a month time when the festival enters its last day. Expect live reports from Victoria and feedback on talks with media representatives from Mauritius attending, as to how they see the rocky relations their own MTPA has with other Vanilla Island partners. Watch this space.