The Saint Ange Tourism Report Special Edition Issue 15 with Zilwa Publications

WELCOME TO THE 15TH SPECIAL EDITION OF THE SAINT ANGE TOURISM REPORT TOGETHER WITH ZILWA PUBLICATION

(Posted 07th October 2020)

Welcome to this Special Edition of our Saint Ange Tourism Report
Election month is here. With it comes the usual and unsurprisingly baggage of professional keyboard trolls, who scour social media desperately for attention and to push their political party’s propaganda. They have gone aggressively on the attack, but their target audience is ultimately restricted to their own party activists, disinterested individuals who know to treat anything said by these trolls with a pinch of salt, and their own candidates. Ordinary citizens either have no, or insufficient access to, internet to pay these keyboard warriors any mind, or are too busy trying to put food on their family’s table to worry about what so and so said about a rival politician, particularly when the spreader of gossip is usually on the party’s payroll and has a nice, airconditioned office to work from at the party’s fancy headquarters.

The rolling out of the political PPBs have begun. While one party spends most of its energy attempting to glorify its leader, the other seems to believe that discrediting rivals will make them appear to be more credible. On our part, ONE SEYCHELLES has dedicated these important platforms to canvassing and expanding upon our plans, policies and values. We not only shine a spotlight on issues being faced by Seychellois, but we make valuable suggestions on how we intend to fix them. Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) has continued to drop the ball this week in disseminating fair and impartial news to the public. Many Seychellois remain unconnected to the internet, which means that social media platforms, where most political parties direct their propaganda, are inaccessible to the masses. Traditional media – SBC television and radio – therefore remain an important platform for public engagement. At election time, these legacy media formats are critical in enabling the public to make informed choices.

This week I was privileged to be bestowed with the title of "Tourism Hero" for the life-long work I have done in the field, and that I actively continue to do; an international award that is only bestowed upon individuals who demonstrate "extraordinary leadership, innovation, and actions." As a Seychellois, I consider my triumphs on the global scene as a win for my Country, as I always strive to fly the Seychelles flag high in the international arena. This news was shared with the SBC, and since 27th September – the date that the announcement was made by the international organization – they have declined to share it. This is particularly curious in light of other superfluous news items they have shared about other politicians in recent weeks.

The silencing of my achievement aside, this week they also failed to do justice to Dr. Twomey’s powerful farewell speech during her ceremonial sitting as Chief Justice for the last time. Her inspirational words touched on many themes, including the importance of change, the threat to the independence of the judiciary – and to our constitutional democracy – by key politicians, and the need to start holding people to account for their crimes, "even when they are people who are well loved, or wealthy or powerful." She commented on the bullying tactics that she personally had to endure from a high profile politician, and that the Judiciary as a whole had to endure, and noted that no one from the National Assembly or the Executive rushed to the defence of the Judiciary when it mattered.

She questioned the impartiality of our judicial appointments process, expressing her alarm that members of political parties are in charge of recommending the appointment of, and initiating disciplinary processes against Judges, the Attorney General, the Ombudsman, the Auditor General, the Electoral Commission, the Anti-Corruption Commission, the Human Rights Commission, the Truth, Reconciliation and National Unity Committee, the Information Commission, and the SBC! This is despite the constitutional requirement that members of the CAA are to be of "proven … impartiality". This is particularly troublesome when certain members do little to alleviate the public perception of their partiality and bias.

I have tremendous respect for Dr. Twomey, and I am saddened by the lack of respect afforded to her by key politicians, one of whom in particular is vying for higher office. I am also disappointed with the inadequate coverage of her farewell speech during the SBC news segment, noting that they only aired a portion of her speech that did not have direct political ramifications or connotations for either red or green camps. We also note that coverage of her speech was pushed to page 6 of the Seychelles Nation. We at ONE SEYCHELLES will play no part in silencing the honorable Chief Justice. We have ensured that her story made it to front page of Zilwa Publication – where it deserves to be – and have tried to do justice to her incredible speech.

To end on an important quote by Dr. Mathilda Twomey, which bears much relevance in light of the miserable attempts by one particular political party to discredit me and my party members in the lead-up to the pivotal National elections: "Stand secure in your own integrity and values. Know them and know what you stand for. Learn to be a bit deaf to the allegations made against you. And most of all learn to rest when you can – because the fight is ongoing."

An Avan, Seychelles.

Alain St.Ange
Editor

OUR ENTRENCHED TWO-PARTY SYSTEM IS FINALLY UNDER THREAT

The past few decades have revealed that it has traditionally been difficult for a third party to gain a foothold within the political context. Although a third force has attempted to elbow its way between two well-funded and established parties for years, the system has always operated in such a manner that encourages the sole existence of two main parties: those who want change, and those who do not.

What has happened recently, however, is the establishment of a new and powerful force on the political scene. What we are faced with this time around is the novel choice between two opposition camps that are touting "change", and one party offering to maintain the status quo. This has floored opposition voters, who have long been led to believe that their political party is the only one capable of bringing them a change in Government.

This is despite years and years of losses in National elections. Their belief is that any traction that ONE SEYCHELLES is gaining is at the expense of either red or green camps, or in other words that they have "taken" votes from one of the two dominant parties. They are no longer – after all these years – concerned with their party’s plans for effecting change. No, they are more interested in demonizing the competition, as though the 2020 elections have little more significance than a football match. They are happy to preach "freedom of choice" when it suits, but what they really mean is you are only free to choose their political party. It is their version of change, or none at all.

This can be gleaned from the alarming backlash that not only ONE SEYCHELLES members received – and are still receiving – from political extremists, but also the abuse that the two independent candidates running in the upcoming National Assembly elections are withstanding (ironically from parties they once supported). To put it mildly, the "ek nou, pa ek nou" attitude is still permeating society, being kept alive on life support by certain politicians and misguided voters.

The issue with entrenched power – in other words, the existence of two main political parties, to the exclusion of all others – is concentrated wealth, magnified in recent decades by increasing economic inequality. Self enrichment and self entrenchment are the elementary forms of political corruption, and key politicians have been known to resolutely pursue both.

A new balance in institutional power in government -including proportional representation in the National Assembly – would serve to level the playing field, and to destabilize the historical entrenchment of certain political parties. This would bring the government closer into line with the will of the majority of Seychellois, and not just a privileged handful. What has historically occurred in our political scene is that third parties tend to face co-option by one of the two major parties.

And even if the third party does survive, it only supplants one of the existing major parties, leaving us with a two-party system, just one consisting of a different set of two parties. We witnessed a co-option in the 2015 elections, with Mr. Patrick Pillay being co-opted into the hastily rebranded opposition party, namely LDS. We saw it again only this week, with the same Mr. Pillay flinging his support inexplicably this time around behind the US political party.

However, for the purposes of the 2020 elections, the political scene remains, fortunately and refreshingly, unchanged. We still have, notably, three main candidates taking part in the Presidential Election, and three main political parties – as well as two independent candidates – participating in the Legislative Election.

This is a big win for our fragile democracy, and a significant step in the right direction for our Nation. If the duopoly of red and green camps was continuously permitted to exist unchallenged by any third party or third force, Seychelles would face darker possibilities of entrenchment.

Alain St.Ange awarded title of "Tourism Hero"
Alain St. Ange on 27 September 2020 was awarded the prestigious and highly coveted international honor of ‘Tourism Hero’.

The Safer Tourism Hall of International Tourism Heroes is open by invitation only. Individuals who have been bestowed the ‘Tourism Hero’ title have shown extraordinary leadership, innovation, and actions. They go the extra step.

Alain St.Ange’s long list of accolades and contributions to the field of tourism were cited, with the Organization finally concluding, "Mr. St. Ange is currently president of the African Tourism Board and co-chair of Project Hope, an African initiative in response to the COVID pandemic. [He] has worked day and night for so many years for the better of the tourism industry and has been seen speaking at events around the globe. Mr. St.Ange brought not only himself, but the reputation of his Country to become a leading force in international tourism. Friends with all, enemies with none is what drives Mr. St. Ange in the love of this industry. He truly deserves his prominent seat in the International Hall of Tourism Heroes." Mr. St. Ange has received numerous awards and honours, including the Mahatma Gandhi Honour Award (2014) for his work in strengthening Indo-Seychelles relations, a Plaque of Honour from the House of Lords in London (2015), and the Tourism Eminent Achiever Award in Africa (2015).

He has also authored and co-authored several books about Seychelles. He was appointed as the Seychelles Director of Marketing in 2009, and in 2010, promoted to CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board. In 2012, he was elected as the first President of the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands Regional Organization (Seychelles, Mauritius, Reunion, Madagascar, Comoros & Mayotte) aimed at forming a new tourism destination brand. That same year, he was named as the Minister for Tourism and Culture. In 2013, he was unanimously elected by the Commission of the Africa region (CAF) as member of the Executive Council of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

His Ministerial portfolios later grew significantly to include Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine. He worked endlessly to establish Seychelles as one of the world’s most attractive and visible travel destinations. Under his leadership, tourism in Seychelles flourished. Through empowering businesses and working to become a role model in sustainability efforts, Alain St.Ange was the tenacious and resourceful Minister. As a direct result Seychelles saw a significant increase in capital investments from resorts, hotels and destination management companies.

In 2017, he was pushed by countless leaders in the field across the globe to enter the race for the Secretary-General post for the UNWTO, but it is recalled that the Seychelles Government pulled the plug on his candidature mere hours before the elections were due to be held, and while he and his family were already present in Madrid.

Mr. St.Ange was unanimously nominated by his peers in the ONE SEYCHELLES political party as their Presidential Candidate, and he is formally contesting the National elections that are due to be held next month. His rivals in the Presidential elections are outgoing President, Mr. Danny Faure, and Father Wavel Ramkalawan.

https://safertourismseal.com

TRANSPARENCY OF FISHERIES IN SEYCHELLES

Earlier this week, the Kick-off Forum on the Transparency of Fisheries in Seychelles Initiative was hosted. The Forum was jointly organised by the Department of the Blue Economy and the Fisheries Transparency Initiative (FiTI).

All relevant public sector representatives, representatives from the fisheries sector, international organisations, civil society members, media and academia were invited, as were key politicians from all political camps. Mr. St.Ange and Mr. Peter Sinon personally attended the event on behalf of ONE SEYCHELLES.

The aim of the Forum was to raise awareness on the importance of transparency within the fisheries sector, and the open sharing of information in this respect. Transparency is not only a critical aspect in achieving sustainable fisheries, it is also a cornerstone of Seychelles’ endeavours to transit to a sustainable ocean economy and a core principle of its "Blue Economy: Strategic Policy Framework and Roadmap".

Seychelles is currently conducting the Country’s first assessment of publicly available information on its marine fisheries sector, which will be released as the ‘FiTI Report’ by the end of this year. The outcomes of this assessment will not only provide a robust status of the availability, accessibility and credibility of basic information, it will also be an ideal tool in institutionalizing and improving the dialogue and cooperation with all bona fide stakeholders.

Mr. St. Ange and Mr. Sinon described the initiative as a welcoming endeavour. They both expressed their concern on the amount of illegal and unregulated fishing taking place within our EEZ, and the need for there to be accountability, particularly by the EU flagged vessels operating within our waters.

It is hoped that all partners and stakeholders involved will see the value in this initiative in order for our valuable fish stocks to remain sustainable well into the future.

AKWAABA AFRICAN TRAVEL MARKET SUCCESSFULLY HOSTS 2020 MICE CONFERENCE ON ZOOM WITH ALAIN ST.ANGE AS SPECIAL GUEST OF HONOUR
Akwaaba African Travel Market, the leading PanAfrican Tourism Expo added another feather to its cap by being the first Pan-African expo to successfully host its virtual event. It will be recalled that several major travel and tourism fairs across the globe had to be cancelled or postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, with the successful virtual hosting of its 4th African Travel and Tourism Conference on MICE with the theme: *Is MICE a Viable Pathway for Tourism Recovery in Africa?*, Akwaaba African Travel Market has distinguished itself as a leading tourism fair in Africa. The MICE Conference had a brief appearance by former Minister of Tourism of Seychelles, Alain St. Ange who was the Special Guest of Honour.

St. Ange who is contesting the presidential elections in his country on the platform of One Seychelles political party, expressed his delight to be on the conference, commending the efforts of the host, Ambassador Ikechi Uko. Alain St. Ange highlighted on the importance of finding dedicated African partnerships to grow the industry in Africa. He stated that the African MICE industry needs to have visibility, be competitive and put in place appropriate safety standards to compete favourably with the global market.

St. Ange also urged the panelists to explore the cruise ships travel to create a "floating MICE industry." Lead Speaker, Rick Taylor gave a detailed presentation of the MICE industry, tracing the history to 1714 in Philadelphia, when a group of carpet makers came together. At the beginning of his presentation, Rick lit a candle and then went on to explain to the audience that, he did that to show that "a candle loses nothing by lighting another candle."

The highlight of Rick’s presentation was a hinged on the belief that MICE or "Business events are not dead," but that "they need to change." According to statistics provided by him, face-to-face meetings generate up to 14 ideas per hour, while virtual generate half of that. Also, 85% of people believe f2f contributes to stronger, and more meaningful relationships. The future of MICE has to be more results-oriented and that Victory is certain.

Contributing from Rwanda, Nelly Mukazayire of the Rwanda Convention Bureau (RCB) referring to the COVID-19 pandemic stated that "in every situation there are always opportunities." She said that the MICE industry kicked off in Rwanda in 2015. Between 2017 and 2019, Rwanda hosted 591 MICE events, 110,000 delegates, while earning $206 million, amounting to 12% of the nation’s revenue. Meanwhile, CEO of South Africa Tourism (SAT) Sisa Ntshona spoke on the fact that the Rainbow Nation made MICE events deliberate industry for income generation. From his analysis, a MICE event brings between 5,000 – 7,000 delegates to the country; but with one cancellation, a entire ecosystem is wiped out.

He mentioned a particular sad occasion where about 19,000 delegates had registered for the World Ophthalmologists Society event, only for it to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This buttress his point that "in tourism, we sell perishable goods." The SAT Boss pointed out that of 20,200, Africa had only 514, representing a mere 3% of the global market share. Speaking further, Ntshona agreed with Rick Taylor on f2f meetings. Using the example of the ongoing conference, he pointed out that the event has been hosted, but no income has come in. No one has paid for tea or coffee and all such that would have arisen from physical meetings.

On his part, the Deputy CEO of Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), Bradford Ochieng acknowledged that the MICE industry in the Pearl of Africa is quite young, but it is already listed 6th on the continent. Interestingly, he stated that 80% of MICE arrivals in Uganda are from Africa. Also, he said that the country would reopen international flights by October 1, 2020 and there is hope that by April next year things would have normalised.

The CEO of Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), Akwasi Agyeman pointed out that the country is hoping to build on the success of the Year of Return in 2019, with the Beyond the Return campaign, which according to him, is a 10-year project. He also highlighted that Ghana, which is the leading MICE destination in West Africa has highlighted key strategic point, such as: strong marketing push, regional agenda, enhanced PPP model for tourism, eased pathways (Visa policy review to boost the industry.

Meanwhile, the CEO of Kenya Convention Bureau, Jacinta Nzioka revealed that the East African country has already generated 15% profit from business travel in the past one month. She stated that Kenya had reopened domestic travel in mid June, while international flights resumed on August 1, adding that Kenya was one of the first to launch COVID19 safety protocols. The country also suffered it share of loss with as much as 97 events cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, although some had been rescheduled, while others were hosted virtually.

However, the KNCB, according to Jacinta has already plotted a roadmap up to 2030. The strategy which is 3- pronged into short-term, medium-term and long-term include:
1. Consolidation and operational excellence,
2. Innovation and development,
3. Acceleration and growth.

For the CEO of KNCB, as Africans, "We should complement each other, and not compete against each other. Akwaaba African Travel Market 2020 continues tomorrow with the African Youth in Tourism Conference also on Zoom.

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