The Carnival is not over until the ‘Fat Lady has sung’

IS MAURITIUS TRYING TO RAIN ON SEYCHELLES’ CARNIVAL PARADE?

Preparations for the 3rd edition of the fabulous Carnaval de Carnivals, aka Carnival International de Victoria in the Seychelles, are in high gear it was learned from a source on Mahe. Rehearsals have taken place, the floats, kept in secret locations, are being build up and the tailors are putting final touches on a range of colourful costumes to be worn by the local participants.

More floats, more sponsorships and more corporate participation than ever before will mark the upcoming festival when the centre of Victoria will resemble a giant party ground with food stalls, musical performances and impromptu displays which is only possible with the magical spirit the islands seem to bestow on Seychellois and visitors alike.

On board this year is once again the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion which has experienced a significant increase in enquiries and visitors for holidays on the volcanic island, following a close partnership with the Seychelles last year for the carnival, extendending to trade fairs as well as the Vanilla Island Cooperation, which is now headquartered on La Reunion. New this year as a partner is Zimbabwe, which in May will co-host the UN WTO General Meeting with Zambia in the twin cities of Victoria Falls and Livingstone and which is also banking on priceless publicity generated by STB’s juggernaut for the event and the partners. Wrote one source from Zimbabwe met last year: ‘Our tourism is picking up again after some time of downturns. We want to partner with a destination like Seychelles. They offer twin centre holidays, where tourists come here for safari and then spend time on their islands for the rest of the vacation. Zimbabwe tourism is quality tourism. Seychelles tourism is also quality tourism. We make a good match and being part of the Carnival Festival is a great opportunity for Zimbabwe to be seen and heard’.

Meanwhile is Mauritius still pondering if to send a team to participate and display a float or two or else, like in past years, excel by absence, leaving the Mauritius’ presence once again to a large contingent of media personnel invited to cover the event.

In a related development and altogether more sinister if true, going by one source from Port Louis, are apparently close to the chest talks going on within MTPA and the Mauritius’ Ministry of Tourism over the Seychelles bid to become a member of the UN World Tourism Organization’s Executive Committee. There seems to be growing apprehension over the success of the Seychelles marketing approach and winning formula, now translating into seeking a greater and more assertive role in Africa and the world for the Creole Paradise as the islands are often dubbed. Supported by a growing number of African countries and fellow Indian Ocean islands associated under the Vanilla Island Cooperation, appreciating the open format the Seychelles have chosen to cooperate, discuss and assist, as well as being impressed by the Non Visa regime from which in particular African countries have tried to learn for their own benefit, many were more than happy to throw their support behind the Seychelles’ bid to be elected at a meeting in mid year, a development which must have alarmed at least some key players in Port Louis. ‘There seem to be some discussions going on behind closed doors, to avoid leaks, but some are not happy to see St. Ange becoming a key mover and shaker at UNWTO’s Executive Council. The man breeds success in all he touches and with our own failures here in Mauritius, they fear him a lot. That is the reason they pushed the participation fee into the papers trying to derail Seychelles. They should have known St. Ange would simply explain what that money is for and not otherwise react. That move failed and they are looking for other areas where they can make things difficult for him. At least that is what is quietly making the rounds here’ said one regular and usually reliable source from Mauritius. True or not, it would reflect an altogether familiar mindset from the merry men running MTPA, where envy and copy catting now seem the rule rather than going back to the basics of marketing and making use of the magnificent resorts and their beaches along the sun-drenched shores of Mauritius to creatively market the island. Time will tell as usual, so watch this space.

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