The Tourism Legacy of Minister Alain St.Ange published by Kitty J. Pope – African Diaspora Tourism

The story of Seychelles’ Tourism and Culture Minister Alain St. Ange – ably told by Kitty Pope

The Tourism Legacy of Minister Alain St.Ange

by Kitty J. Pope – African Diaspora Tourism

Alain St.Ange: The Leader of Leaders Who Created the Carnival of Carnivals

An in-depth look at the one-of-a kind African Tourism Minister’s personality, leadership style, and accomplishments.

It was over four years ago that the Honorable Seychelles Minister of Tourism and Culture Alain St.Ange came up with he idea of organizing a huge carnival where nations from around the world could parade their cultures. With many countries already having their own unique carnivals, St.Ange envisioned an international carnival that would bring nations together in one setting to not only showcase their cultures, but also to help promote an understanding of multiculturalism. He went on to launch the Seychelles International Carnival where communities of nations get the opportunity to network and socialize in a relaxed atmosphere. The first of its kind, the carnival, which has grown every year, has come to be known as the “Carnival of Carnivals.”

St.Ange says that the carnival is a unique world event for bringing nations together where different cultures are respected as well as celebrated. “Even in the General Assembly of the United Nations when some world leaders stand to deliver their address, some delegates walk out, but here respect for everyone is and will remain the key to ties of friendship and togetherness,” he explains.

Supporting St.Ange’s view of the carnival, Canadian journalist Carol Perhudof said that she has come to believe that the "Carnaval International de Victoria" could help to change the world because it’s a celebration of every culture together. “The Seychelles Carnival is a brilliant tourism idea that helps bring us to a point where we can live in harmony beyond colour of skin, to live in peace with each other,” said Perehudoff, after her first visit for Seychelles Fourth International Carnival.

Through this "Carnival of Carnivals," St.Ange has no doubt embarked on a global multicultural movement where people can capture the spirit of internationalism to gain a better understanding and appreciation of another country’s culture. Seychelles Carnival has captured the interest of leaders, tourism officials and travelers alike from the world over. As word spreads near and far among VIPs, media sources and curious tourists, the carnival has continued to get more popular each year. So just what is it about St.Ange that has allowed him to be able to successfully devise such an ingenious way to propel people and nations to come together under one accord?

For one thing, he has been dubbed a master marketer and promoter by Creole International Magazine, as he was able to turn around visitation numbers to substantially increase tourism arrivals in Seychelles. Implementing and forging forth the tourism portfolio set forth by President James Michel, St.Ange’s tourism approach and marketing methods have proven to be extremely effective, garnering him invitations from a host of countries and organizations that want to learn about the “Seychelles Tourism Brand” as a guide for replication.

One such organization that hosted him as a featured presenter is the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO). Huge Riley, Secretary General for CTO was happy to have St.Ange to share his winning strategies for the organization’s State of the Industry Conference. “Minister St.Ange is well-known among tourism circles as a creative thinker and practitioner who is particularly skilled in helping to develop various countries’ tourism potential," said Riley. At the conference, St.Ange topic was “Redefining the Role of National Tourist Offices,” where he spoke about the changing face of the tourism industry over the past 60 years and how tourism officials must be able to adjust.

St.Ange has been interviewed by top media sources and journalist trying to get a peek at what makes him tick. Noted CNN journalist Anita Mendiratta has sited Seychelles Minister Alain St. Ange as a shining example of how to move tourism, trade, investment, understanding and opportunity forward. She said that St.Ange reflects vision, creativity, leadership ability and agility which she believes are job requirements for the role of Minister of Tourism. One of the things that St.Ange emphasized in the interview with her is how a tourism minister must be ready to be involved with local business interests, guiding local development, as well as international bodies and conferences. He believes this ensures that their country remains as visible as possible and in so doing remain relevant in the world of tourism.

Tony Vaughan of the South African magazine Property said that St.Ange entrance as a tourism official and the role that he played was very timely for Seychelles. He reported how St.Ange had defied the odds to bring tourism arrivals up doing a time of economic downturn. St.Ange commented how Seychelles was defying the trend with visitor arrivals up year-on-year by 12%. “We must be the only destination in the world reporting such growth in this economic climate. Quite simply, we’ve transitioned from a government led sector to a privately led sector fully backed by government, we’ve let go of the reigns, we’ve allowed the private sector to take control of what is in their best interest, and it’s working. We’ve also launched the ‘Affordable Seychelles’ campaign to move the perception away from the idea that we only exist for the rich and famous," he asid.

St.Ange has earned recognition for his work from countries as far away as China. The Chinese Xinhua News Agency labeled St.Ange as a “tourism guru” after his success in 2010 with a new tourism policy based on public-private partnerships and the strategy of diversification of the island nation’s source market.Xihhua News reported that the good performance of the Seychelles tourism industry shows that this economic pillar of the archipelago has resisted shocks of global economic recession, or better still, the recent threat to aerial transport by the Iceland volcanic ash. St.Ange explained that the new tourism policy of the Seychelles government was a win-win strategy where the state regulates the industry, while the private sector drives the industry.

On diversification, the tourism guru noted that the Seychelles had succeeded in moving away from its dependence on the traditional European market thanks to the aggressive work on the emerging markets. St.Ange said that their strategy has attracted increased number of visitors from such countries as South Africa, already the sixth source market for the Seychelles and also a hub for visitors from other countries, especially those from the United States. “There are also visitors from the Reunion, Kenya, India, and China, which constitute the emerging markets with great potential,” he explained.

Because of his outstanding work and proven leadership skills in tourism, St.Ange is a sought after-speaker and trainer whose tourism approaches have been studied around the African continent, and other various regions and countries. Always willing to share his knowledge, St.Ange could easily be labeled the “Minister of Tourism’s Minister of Tourism”. He has been elected to the Executive Council of the United Nations World Tourism Organization, and travel officials and industry leaders from the four corners of the world are continuously taking note of his accomplishments. St.Ange is a strong believer that an effective marketing strategy is the tourism industry, its sectors and different regions collaborating and working together.

Because he believes unity and collaboration is so important, he has solicited the partnership of other Indian Ocean Islands and countries to help present the carnival. La Reunion was the first to agree to partner for the Carnival when La Reunion’s President of the Regional Council Didier Robert signed an MOU with St.Ange. Joining La Reunion as co-host of the 2014 International Carnival in Seychelles was Madagascar, Mayotte and South Africa KwaZulu Natal.

Acting on his belief in tourism partnering, in 2010 St.Ange spearheaded the launch of the Vanilla Islands Tourism Brand, a marketing concept that jointly promotes both the shared attractions of each member state, along with the factors that make each nation unique as a tourism product. As the inaugural president, St.Ange was at the hub of this marketing concept along with tourism ministers from La Reunion, Mauritius, Madagascar, and other smaller Indian Ocean islands.

President of the Regional Council of La Reunion Didier Robert, a key partner in launching the Vanilla Island concept, agrees with St.Ange that bridges can be built through the consolidation of common efforts. After St.Ange’s two-year term Robert has taken over as president. “The reinforcement of cooperation between our Indian Ocean Islands is fundamental for the development of our respective islands," said Robert who has continued to build on his relationship with St.Ange in promoting Vanilla Islands and other initiatives.

St.Ange’s strong belief in promoting, partnering and collaboration is what is helping to make Seychelles a global playeron the world stage. For one thing, under his administration, airline flights to and from Seychelles have increased fostering tourism development and international travel. His relationships with airline partners and other businesses outside of the tourism industry in Africa and internationally have helped to put the island on the global radar.

Commenting on St.Ange’s tourism tactics are Robert Desvaux, Chairman of Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority and Didier Robert, President of Vanilla Islands. Desvaux said, "Clever use of media contacts and a tireless dedication to promoting Seychelles through the media at any opportunity has paid enormous dividends and has helped bridge the information gap about the islands and place them squarely on the map." Robert went on to explain that St.Ange knows how to tap into the power of his resources to spread the word about Seychelles across the globe, earning the islands increased publicity. "His promotion of events-based tourism and the resounding success of the carnival has propelled Seychelles onto center stage, winning extensive press coverage for his burgeoning suite of events," said Robert.

St.Ange is also helping to raise the island’s profile through such organizations as the International Council of Tourism Partners, (ICTP), a grassroots tourism coalition of global destinations committed to quality service and green growth. Having helped launch the organization a few years ago, St.Ange and other member leaders are committed to the promotion of responsible tourism through ICTP. Another one of St.Ange efforts that has helped to stretch island nation beyond its borders is the International Creole Institute in Seychelles. Building on the mission of the former Creole Institute of Seychelles in developing and promoting Creole culture, St.Ange helped to launch the new institute over a year ago. He is now leading the institute in gaining an international status where it represents different Creole countries in the region and beyond.

As St.Ange takes Seychelles to the world, he is at the same time bringing the world to Seychelles as evident through the Seychelles International Carnival. In addition to the carnival, he has to host some ICTP meetings in Seychelles, and has managed to convene various other global meetings in its capital city of Victoria. He got the seventh "Routes Africa," to come to Seychelles for its forum on key issues in African aviation where a record number of high ranking delegates attended. He also got the historic African Union (AU)Ministers of Tourism Meeting to be held in Seychelles, which was the "Meeting of the Ministerial Working Group on the Tourism Sector Development Strategy for Africa: AU Agenda 2063." Each successful meeting or event that St.Ange has convened usually results in the call and preparation for another important one.

This has been especially true after the carnivals that seem to give birth to a new global conference, initiative, or event each year. The Vanilla Island marketing concept and the International Council of Tourism Partners were initiated shortly after the first Seychelles carnival in 2010. It was after the 2014 Seychelles Carnival that it was decided with a unanimous vote to hold the UNWTO Commission For Africa (CAF) Ministerial Meeting 2015 in Seychelles, after a call by St. Ange at the 2014 event in Angola. Also shortly after the 2014 carnival, it was confirmed that the 2014 Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Tourism and Travel Mart will take place in Seychelles, again thanks to St.Ange.

With tourism collaboration as one of his major platforms for strategic marketing, St.Ange has called for the creation of a comprehensive tourism brand for the entire African continent. His initial appeal for an African brand was supported by leaders at the African Union Ministerial working group meeting for the Africa AU Agenda 2063 held in Seychelles. Committed to enhancing Africa’s potential in tourism development through the African Union, St.Ange believes that the challenges felt and the rivalries on the continent can be seen with a fresh look when African States unite under an Africa Tourism Brand.

With tourism collaboration as one of his major platforms for strategic marketing, St.Ange has called for the creation of a comprehensive tourism brand for the entire African continent. His initial appeal for an African brand was supported by leaders at the African Union Ministerial working group meeting for the Africa AU Agenda 2063 held in Seychelles. Committed to enhancing Africa’s potential in tourism development through the African Union, St.Ange believes that the challenges felt and the rivalries on the continent can be seen with a fresh look when African States unite under an Africa Tourism Brand.

"The time is right and opportune for Africa to work with Africa,” explained St.Ange. “We Africans need to agree to grow our tourism cake together and that cake does not mean the African Union will be marketing our respective countries. We will always be the best in marketing our respective country, but the comprehensive Africa Tourism Brand will help increase our visibility and make us more relevant in the world of tourism,” he said. "The African continent needs an African brand that will promote our region in tourism trade fairs. We need a brand that will work hand in hand with United Nations World Tourism Organisation and UNWTO body,” said St.Ange.

A visionary leader with personal magnetism and far-reaching influence, St.Ange embodies some qualities of the greatest of world leaders. Like the late great Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the late world renown singer/activist John Lennon who both dreamed of world peace, St.Ange makes clear through his work and his speeches that he dreams of the day when the “world can live as one.” Because of his love for his country, Africa, humanity and the lengths that he will go to bring about harmony among races, St.Ange can also be likened to the late South African icon and former President Nelson Mandela. It is St.Ange’s strong desire to serve humanity that inspires him to give his all and all, and dedicate his entire life to his work just as Dr. King, Lennon and Mandela did.

Since he is such a respected friend of leaders around the world, you might have guessed that St.Ange is also a beloved figure among his own people in Seychelles. The staff of Seychelles Tourism Board seem to like and respect him, which is a reason why they are willingly to put so much time and energy into their minister’s projects. Even the locals describe him as an approachable, down to earth man, who is quite comfortable in his own skin. Perhaps this helps to explain why he is friendly and comfortable with people from all walks of life.

The journalist from around the globe, who light up when talking about him, have concurred that he is a very likable tourism minister. Bea Broda, a noted broadcast personality from Toronto who also makes her home in California sees St.Ange as a man who is full of compassion. "It is obvious to me that the success of the carnival is because of St.Ange’s passion for people and Seychelles, and his desire to promote culture and tourism," says Broda, who has attended every carnival since the first one.

What is it that Seychellois people, world leaders and others like so much about St.Ange? Perhaps the reason St.Ange is well-liked can be explained relative to an answer that former U.S. President Bill Clinton gave when he was asked why black people liked him so much. Clinton said that he simply answered, “Because I like them.” Could this answer also be the magic bullet for St.Ange? He is a man who likes all types of people, period. No matter what creed, color, nationality, background or religious persuasion, St.Ange, a charismatic leader like Clinton, makes friends wherever he goes.

His passion for Seychelles and its people has been obvious through his work as the previous CEO of the tourism board and now as the Minister of Tourism. Under St.Ange’s leadership in both position, new endeavors have been put in place or enhanced. Three important programs he launched that have helped to raise the islands profile around the globe are "Friends of Press-Seychelles" and "Seychelles Tourism Ambassadors" and the building of a brand new Seychelles Tourism Academy.

Other Seychelles events held under St.Ange’s leadership in culture and tourism include Seychelles Festival of the Sea, Eco-friendly Marathon, Festival Kreol, Fet Afrik, La Fet La Digue, the Seychelles Ball and the Miss Seychelles Beauty Pageant. Proud of the fact the Seychelles is a "Melting Pot of Cultures," St.Ange believes that Seychelles can be an example of how different racial and ethnic groups can get along. He has continued to support and celebrate the cultural heritage of the groups of people that make up Seychelles.

Last year launched the first Seychelles-India Day celebrations and earlier this year launched the first Seychelles-China Day celebrations. St.Ange proclaimed with delight, “Together with the Indian High Commissioner we are happy to announce the Seychelles first India day celebrations. Seychelles celebrates through Commonwealth Day its ties with Britain. Its French heritage is celebrated through La Francophonie Day, and its ancestral bond with Africa is celebrated through FetAfrik annually on Africa Day. Who we are today is also annually celebrated through our Kreol Festival, but our historical ties with India and China had remained the two missing elements on our calendar of events,” he said.

St.Ange, a firm believer in preserving heritage sites, has proposed to the African Union to establish a tourism body within the union for an African Union Heritage Site label. While waiting for UNESCO to declare the slave ruins at the Seychelles Mission Lodge of Sans Soucis to be a World Heritage site, he introduced the idea of Africa having its own heritage site label. “We all go through the lengthy procedures for UNESCO’s recognition of sites we are committed to protect for generations to come. The time has come to work together to give recognition to sites we see are dear to us, to our people, and to our country,” said St.Ange. He explained that this site needed to be saved for future generations, because it was a facility with history for young African slaves, coming from all over Africa, who landed in Seychelles by British ships at the time that slavery was being abolished.

Not only does St.Ange care about preserving the people’s culture and heritage, he also cares about the Seychellois people on a more personal level. In one incident, St.Ange was invited by National Assembly member Derreck Samson to visit Danilo Albert, a prominent artist with a rare disease that confined him to a wheel chair. St.Ange went to the man’s home and upon looking at his paintings and artwork, said that his ministry will provide Danilo with sufficient materials for him to continue painting. “It is touching to see that despite your disease, you’ve taken it upon yourself to seek help to be able to contribute not only for the well-being of your family, but also to play a part to contribute to the economy of the country," said St.Ange, the father of two adult daughters Christine and Michelle who lives in Australia. A supporter of families being independent, he believes that the role of tourism is also for the unification of the people of the destination through economic, social, environmental and ideological advancement and identity.

In addition to promoting tourism in terms of culture, another endeavor that he is developing and enhancing is sports tourism. And of course, he is using collaboration in his marketing plan. He has signed an MOU with Kirschlee Naidoo from Insane Fitness & Nutrition, Pretoria, South Africa with the aim of developing joint relationships in sports tourism as niche markets in South Africa. St.Ange believes that through the different marketing and promotion projects that Insane Fitness & Nutrition works on in South Africa, Seychelles would automatically be promoted. Mr Naidoo and St.Ange are also looking at a joint venture in promoting golf tourism to promote golf tournaments in South Africa and Praslin in Seychelles as well.

This hands on leader, who seems to do more than his share of legwork, believes in meeting people and situations where they are. This time literally, when he recently embarked on an innovative series of ‘door to door’ hotel visits to ensure that senior management teams understand the properties and its challenges as well as successes. Wanting to dedicate quality time with each hotel manager, St.Ange said,“It is time for us to break away from our traditional approaches of holding meetings with big groups of hotels. Sometimes personal meetings can help to understand the problems." It was doing a personal "door to door" hotel visits that he met Esther Reimann, a rental property owner in Praslin who had been having a problem with a tenant about dogs. "Mr. St.Ange is such a fair and good man," said Reimann, after the minister was able to resolve the problem in a way that was suitable to both parties.

Perhaps St.Ange’s ability to deal with people in such a positive way has roots in his family history. His father Karl St.Ange, a massive political figure during the early years of politics in Seychelles, was described by former President James Mancham as a man capable of meeting and discussing politics with Seychellois from all political spectrums who possessed a true ability to “humanise” politics in the mind of all involve. The latter St.Ange must have inherited a natural ability to effectively deal with people and a passion for his homeland from his father. St.Ange went on to study Hotel Management and Tourism in Germany and France before developing his career in hospitality in Seychelles.

His extensive career in hospitality and tourism, political upbringing, studying in Europe and working abroad in addition to his desire to serve people and his love for Seychelles has helped St.Ange to be so successful as the Minister of Tourism and Culture. His beliefs about tourism and culture being interrelated have also contributed to his success in this role. He says, “Tourism cannot exist without culture, because when culture is brought into the equation it is the people of the islands who are being recognised as the base for our tourism industry." The author and co-author of now ten books related to the social, political and cultural aspects of Seychelles, he believes that putting the culture in the forefront brings depth to the destination. “When one’s culture is showcased we are putting our people at the centre of our tourism development," says St.Ange.

His extensive experience along with his knowledge about culture and tourism is what has helped St.Ange to create such a successful carnival, now ranked as the fifth best carnival in the world after only four years in existence. The enormous success of the fourth carnival is due to his ability to build on the successes of the previous three carnivals. The 2014 Seychelles International Carnival, with twenty-six carnivals from around the world participating, has more than doubled in size and attendance, and was more colorful and explosive than ever. For the first time St.Ange included a children’s carnival because he supports the idea that endearing carnival in the hearts of children helps to guarantee that the event will go on for years to come.2014 also saw the release of a new carnival song by Travis Julienne, Ole Ola en sel lavwa’’ a vibrational tune about carnival time composed and sang by Travis Julienne.

As the world awaits the 2015 Seychelles Carnival, a clearer picture has emerged about the man who created it. One might wonder what his future goals are. A career in politics? Perhaps not. St.Ange’s legacy will probably remain in the tourism field. So what are his plans for the next carnival? Since we know more about the man who created it, and since it will be the carnival’s fifth anniversary, it is surely guaranteed to be bigger and even better, a not-to-miss event. But no matter how big and exciting the carnivals continue to become, it is St.Ange’s hope that the Seychelles International Carnival will eventually be seen as a symbol for world peace.

The essence of who St.Ange really is can be summed up in comparison to yet another great leader whose qualities he embodies: US President Barack Obama. It has been said that an asset of Obama is his keen ability to connect with, understand, and relate to people, which helped him to win the election. The same can be said of St.Ange, who also has a natural ability to influence people. Perhaps more importantly, just like President Obama, in the face of insurmountable odds, St.Ange is not afraid to set high goals, roll up his sleeve and say “Yes We Can." Just like President Obama, St.Ange is a leader whose time has come for implementing ideas and agendas that will set new standards in the world. One thing for certain is that you can surely bet on St.Ange being able to deliver and get the job done.

Photos: 1)Minister St.Ange with Secretary General of UNWTO Taleb Rafai who has been supportive of St. Ange’s initiatives 2) Signing MOU with Vanilla Island President Didier Robert, 3) African Union Ministers Working group in Seychelles 4) Board Meeting of Seychelles Tourism and Hospitality Association 5) Speaking at opening of Fetafrik, African Heritage Day, 6) With daughters Christine (l)and Michelle (rt) 7) Interview with French journalist Pierre Gault.

CNN TASK GROUP Uses Seychelles Minister Alain St.Ange as a Case Study

SATURDAY, 21 JUNE 2014 21:18

CNN’s noted journalist Anita Mendiratta recently sited Seychelles Minister Alain St. Ange as an example of how to move tourism, trade, investment, understanding and opportunity forward.

Mendiratta writes:

"The global tourism community takes great pride in the ability of the sector to enhance the economic, social, environmental and ideological wellbeing of nations, enriching the lives of travelers and hosts alike. It brings people, policies and practices together, unlocking minds, ideas, and resources. And it provides countries with a powerful spirit of competitiveness, which may in fact be best realized through cooperation. Travel and tourism gets people, trade, investment, understanding and opportunity moving forward.

With close to 266 million people directly employed by the travel & tourism sector worldwide (equating to over 9% of all jobs worldwide), the responsibility to ensure that tourism ‘works’ is a widely shared one. Hundreds of thousands of business leaders carefully monitor metrics to ensure the ink stays black, the returns continue to be realised. And within governments, public sector players carefully navigate tourism development to ensure that growth is inclusive, sustainable, well planned, well intentioned, well thought through, for the greater wellbeing for all people of the destination be they involved in tourism or not."

Mendiratta questions:

With so much at stake, where does the role of oversight and optimization ultimately sit?

The goal: to reveal where the compass of tourism growth is pointing for destinations seeking meaningful, equitable growth through tourism economy development and advancement.

A CLOSER LOOK AT THE INVISIBLE

When it comes to tourism industry activity, it is the efforts of the private sector – the business community – that commands the greatest attention. The commercial operations of tourism accommodation, infrastructure operations, attractions, and supporting services are most able to enjoy the visibility and appreciation of onlookers for their contribution to tourism sector growth and advancement. The busyness is most often seen and heard through business.

Often unseen, and unappreciated, however, is the effort made by government to guide, nurture and path clear effective tourism sector development. At the head of the table when it comes to government-lead development of travel and tourism: the Minister of Tourism (also referred to as the Secretary of Tourism).

With economic, social, environmental and other crisis challenging the wellbeing of nations across the globe, the importance of the tourism economy has enjoyed a rise in awareness and credibility over the past decade. This understanding is fueled by nations recognising the ability of the tourism sector to help nations get people, programmes and promises of earnings back on their feet. As a result, the importance of the role of the Minister of Tourism has increased. As has its profile.

Mendiratta questions:

But what exactly is the mandate of the government’s chief champion for tourism? And how do they turn the promise of enrichment into a working, long-term reality?

While different destinations will have slightly differing details in their mandates, essentially the role of the Minister of Tourism is grounded in the same principles: responsible, sustainable, inclusive, cooperative and equitable growth and development of the tourism sector and its resulting economy, executed for the benefit of all people of the destination, as well as the competitiveness of the nation in attracting visitors, investment, earnings and positive image.

Mendiratta: But how do they make it happen?

Vision, creativity, leadership ability and agility are job requirements, as clearly revealed when examining the role of a Minister of Tourism through the reflections of one such leader. Minister of Tourism Alain St. Ange, Destination in focus: the Seychelles.

Seychelles: PUNCHING ABOVE ITS WEIGHT

An island nation in the Indian Ocean neighbouring Africa’s eastern coastline, while small in geographic size and remotely located, the Seychelles has become a destination with a reputation for ‘punching above its weight’. Its vital statistics clearly reflect the critical role of tourism, successful tourism, to its future growth and well-being:

Population: 88,000
GDP in 2013: USD 1.13billion
% GDP from Tourism: 56.5% (compared to 9.5% globally)
Visitors in 2013: 265,000
Visitor Exports generated by Tourism: 37%
% Employment from Tourism: greater than 55%
Ranking in WEF Tourism Competitiveness (2013): #1 in Africa (#38 on global ranking)
% Total Investment going to Tourism: 25%
The Interview: The man behind the Seychelles Tourism Machine: Alain St Ange, Honourable Minister of Tourism.
How does he define the responsibility of tourism leadership that sits squarely on his shoulders?
In his own words:
“It is accepted by one and all in Seychelles that Tourism remains the pillar of the island’s economy. As the Seychelles Minister responsible for Tourism my mandate remains to take the Government policy forward.
This also means remaining in touch with the industry players and with our people. The policy covers above all the duty to defend and protect the tourism industry, and to ensure that it is consolidated for the long term.
To achieve this I know that I need our people to be integrated in the tourism industry of our Seychelles. This is why the Government of Seychelles invited Seychelles to work in a united manner to claim back its tourism industry. This appeal has worked and today more Seychellois, than even before, are benefitting from their tourism industry.
Today, the situation is very different indeed as more informed travellers with higher expectations of their holiday experience, seek to get beneath the skin of the country they are visiting and to return home culturally enriched by the experience.
Whether we realise it or not, we are all being transformed by this dynamic and by what it bodes for our increasing interconnectedness, and for the terrain we must navigate in the future.
We are, I believe, all discovering that for our tourism to remain attractive to this new generation of clued-up, increasingly discerning globe-trotters we must exploit the wider set of our destination’s attributes, digging into our respective cultures to lend travellers a fresh perspective on all that we have to offer.
This in turn, implies greater engagement with our populations whose support we need to take our tourism industry to the next level and who can find their livelihoods transformed in return as a result of this exciting new synergy.”
Central to the success of tourism destinations is making tourism an industry that all nationals are able to genuinely support, whether they work in the industry or not. Embedding the understanding around the value of the tourism economy is an essential basis of understanding for holistic support of the sector through all parts, and players, in the nation’s economy and society.
Why is Seychelles an example in this regard? As explained by the Hon. Minister of Tourism:
“I have always known that if I wanted to build awareness across Seychelles I needed to make the industry more relevant to all people of Seychelles. Tourism is so important for Seychelles that it needs the population at large to remain updated so that the importance of the industry is appreciated, and the relevance of the industry that remains the pillar of their economy is understood. This means that every single national must be continuously informed of what tourism does for them, why it matters to them.
This is not a behind the scenes job. The position of Minister of Tourism is not about sitting behind a desk. Because when visitor arrival numbers are down, when length of stay drops, the buck stops with you, when the yield from tourism is down, the buck also lands with you. A Tourism Minister must also be ready to be involved with local business interests, guiding local development, as well as international Bodies and Conferences to ensure the country remains as visible as possible and in so doing remain relevant in the world of tourism. Ministers of Tourism must work with passion and only passion. It cannot only be a position with a title.”
For many destinations, and their tourism leaders, it’s not only about a responsibility within borders. For many destinations, regional cooperation is vital to not just tourism growth, but survival. Creative approaches to sector advancement, including competition through cooperation, leveraging partnerships, eliminating barriers and stimulating year-round visitor activity, have become essential strategic levers for many destinations.
When reflecting on the tireless efforts made by the Seychelles in developing strong operating relationships across the African continent, Hon. Minister St Ange takes on an ‘abundance’ based approach:
“I believe that unity is strength. Developing regional partnerships can only grow the region’s tourism cake. This is obvious even to the most naive and skeptical observers. No island can be an island on to itself. This is a policy of the past and a remedy for disaster.
A transformative aspect of today’s brand of tourism we are following as Seychelles is cross-border approach as we are witnessing with the upcoming 2014 edition of the Carnaval International de Victoria, now co-hosted by Seychelles, La Reunion, Madagascar, Mayotte and South Africa KwaZulu Natal. This is a clear example of States which may once have considered themselves as rivals in tourism, coming together in an initiative to market, not only themselves but their region.
Another example of Seychelles playing its part is in the Indian Ocean Vanilla islands and the East3Route cross -border tourism investment initiative between Mozambique, Swaziland, South Africa and now Seychelles.
These kind of collaborations between neighbours and erstwhile rival states bears a clear message of the benefits of co-operation in the global marketplace and the potential for transforming lives across entire regions through joint tourism initiatives.
Today the world in which we live is changing very rapidly as the internet, social media and increased inter-connectivity between peoples at all levels of society is bringing about change at an unprecedented pace and intensity. There is practically no area of human endeavor that has remained untouched in this roller-coaster ride on the back of these ever-burgeoning technologies which create fantastic opportunities, as well as challenges in this brave new world we are entering.
As a classic example of a people-oriented industry, tourism, upon which many of our region’s economies depend to a greater or lesser extent, continues to experience profound change, forcing us to re-evaluate our approach to what makes our respective destinations attractive to consumers, and which channels we use to get the message across in the ever-more-crowded, global market place. Less than two decades ago, Seychelles was very much relying on its sun, sea and sand ticket to attract visitors to our shores, even though it is widely accepted that we have the best in a sun, sea and sand holiday. Today we are all the stronger as a destination, and as the people of the Seychelles, because we our thinking smarter, and working smarter.”
One nation, one destination, one leader, one perspective. In any destination across the globe, the role of government is vital to the success of tourism sector growth, development and competiveness. Likewise, the role of tourism is for the unification of the people of the destination through economic, social, environmental and ideological advancement and identity.
– Minister Alain St. Ange

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