(Seychelles Minister for Tourism and Culture Alain St. Ange seen here at an interview with this correspondent)
The Minister of Tourism and Culture of the Seychelles, Alain St. Ange, was honoured at the end of his stay in Madagascar, where he was invited as guest of honour to open the annual international tourism fair, allowing him to throw his weight behind the Madagascar effort to return as a destination amongst the Vanilla Islands.
St. Ange has since his appointment as Minister in early March this year, and in his previous position as CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board, left out no opportunity to promote the Vanilla Islands concept amongst fellow islanders in the Indian Ocean, to strengthen where individual destinations struggled and had to overcome adversity is was the case with Madagascar but also to exploit the magnificent range of destinations available in a relatively confined area. The success of brining La Reunion on board as co-sponsor for the annual Carnival International de Victoria was seen as a crucial waypoint in further adding weight to the marketing cooperative of fellow Indian Ocean island states. His efforts and achievements over the past years was recognized by President Rajoelina, when he bestowed upon St. Ange the honour of Commandeur de lOrdre National de Madagascar, formally handed over on his behalf by the islands tourism minister in Jean Max Rakotomamonjy in a ceremony before all assembled guests with honour guard and all. Minister Jean Max said on the occasion: Your work and your support is assisting Madagascar Tourism find its rightful place. For this we are thankful and we count of your continued personal involvement. We thank you for being in Madagascar for the International Tourism Fair to express solidarity for the islands tourism industry to which a clearly emotional St. Ange, surprised by this unexpected recognition, responded: I can only said that I remain committed to the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands concept and that I will work with the six islands of the Indian Ocean group to ensure we all see success for our respective islands tourism industry.
Only three months ago did La Reunion equally recognize St. Anges single handed effort to unite the Vanilla Islands to form a strong coalition of the willing to promote travel from around the world to the islands of La Reunion, Madagascar, Mayotte, Comoros, Mauritius and his own native Seychelles.
Alain St.Ange was responsible for inviting La Reunion to be co-host alongside the Seychelles for the 2012 Carnival International de Victoria and this had helped La Reunion to be more visible in front of a large bank of press coming from the four corners of the world. At the press briefing at the Kempinski Resort, the day before the official opening of the Carnival International de Victoria, the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands Carnival, after promotional video clips of Seychelles and La Reunion were shown to the seventy plus press gathered, Alain St.Ange spoke about La Reunion as the Indian Ocean island that offered Swiss like mountains and a extinct volcano. Seychelles and La Reunion complement each other as ideal twin-center holiday options St. Ange, then still CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board said as reported here at the time by this correspondent who witnessed the joint presentation.
None other than President Didier Robert himself, the President of La Region La Reunion, led his islands 100-plus delegation to the carnival in Seychelles, accompanied by Pascal Viroleau, the Head of the IRT (Ile de La Reunion Tourisme).
Both Seychelles and La Reunion form part of the six islands Vanilla Islands region in the Indian Ocean, and both these islands at that time reconfirmed their willingness to continue to cooperate in the field of tourism promotion as they agreed to continue to seek to convince the other islands of that block to also embrace the Carnaval International de Victoria, the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands Carnival, as the event that can increase visibility of the region.
The presentation of the Certificate of Merit Ambassadeur Ile de la Reunion was made in Berlin Germany to Mr. St.Ange by Mr. Azeddine Bouali, a Member of the La Reunion Tourism Board in the presence of Mr. Pascal Viroleau, the Head of the La Reunion Tourism (IRT) and other officials from La Reunion tourism.
Alain St.Ange at that time said that he was honored to have been awarded this Certificate of Merit by La Reunion. We had agreed to work together to strengthen our region and increase its visibility as an important tourism region where diversity exists. Inviting La Reunion to be a co-host of the carnival was to help our region have a bigger carnival, but at the same time help put La Reunion in the forefront in the eyes of the press, and to get them more known in the world of tourism. They have appreciated our effort, and it pleases me. Seychelles always believes that a strong region will ensure a more consolidated tourism industry for all our Indian Ocean Islands Minister Alain St.Ange had said.
Seychelles, La Reunion, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mayotte and Comoros all form part of the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands Group. The Islands have undertaken joint marketing initiatives to increase their regions visibility. Last year that Vanilla Islands Group organised an airline meeting in Mauritius to discuss with all airlines serving the islands of the Indian Ocean about the way forward. Since that Mauritius meeting much has changed in the world of aviation and in the individual situation of all the airlines (Air Seychelles, Air Mauritius & Air Austral) of the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands. Pascal Viroleau of La Reunion as Head of the IRT (La Reunion Tourism), while also in Madagascar for the international tourism fair, had last week proposed an early follow up meeting in Seychelles in Julyto be held alongside the upcoming ICTP Annual General Meeting, the RETOSA Board Meeting and the Routes Africa Conference, all of which will be held in the Seychelles in early July. Watch this space.