SEYCHELLES MAKE WAVES AT IIPT CONFERENCE IN LUSAKA
Wherever the Seychelles Tourist Board and delegation goes, expect ‘big waves’ and a lasting impact, as now seen at the IIPT Peace for Tourism Conference in Lusaka / Zambia. This Pan African Tourism Conference, under the theme ‘Meeting the challenges of climate change to tourism in Africa and the developing world’ brought together hundreds of senior private and public sector tourism stakeholders, looking at a variety of measures the industry can take to reduce its carbon foot print and become sustainable in coming years.
President Rupiah Banda personally greeted the conference participants and was saying ‘Zambia recognises the important role that tourism can play in the economic and social development of Africa and the developing world. Tourism also helps to foster peace in the world as every traveller is essentially a peace ambassador’. True words spoken by Zambia’s President and reflecting exactly what he already emphasized two years ago when granting an interview to this correspondent during an African Union meeting at the lake side resort of Munyonyo in Kampala.
Seychelles Tourism Board Chief Executive Alain St. Ange was invited to the conference by organizer and IIPT President Louis D’Amore and will speak to the delegates on the topic of ‘Developmental, Cultural and Partnership Perspectives’. Few of course are more qualified than Mr. St. Ange, whose fame at home in the archipelago but notably across the world rose exponentially as he steered the Seychelles tourism industry out of the doldrums, when the global financial and economic crisis hit in 2008 and the tourism sector stared into the abyss.
Aided by a change in government policy at the time in Victoria, the Creole archipelago’s capital city on the island of Mahe, the country’s tourist board was quasi ‘privatized’ and the entire private sector threw their weight behind St. Ange and his team’s proposals how to counter the downturn, give the destination a ‘new face and identity’ and rescue the economy of the country, heavily if not entirely depending on tourism and fishing receipts.
Since then a new marketing strategy was unveiled and is being implemented, ‘Brand Seychelles’ was created, the air capacity to the islands was nearly doubled, new world class resorts opened by leading brand names in the global hospitality industry and yet environmental protection and conservation were deliberately advanced alongside economic development to protect the most important assets the island offers to tourist visitors, clean, clear ocean water washing up on pristine white beaches with a marine life second to none.
The Seychelles, as an Indian Ocean island state, is particularly keen to negotiate, conclude and enforce global agreements against climate change, as their long term survival depends in part at least in keeping the rise in ocean waters in check to safe low lying islands and atolls like Aldabra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Undoubtedly will the text of St. Ange’s address be made available via the IIPT website www.iipt.org but according to the feedback from participants this particular address is keenly awaited by the delegates, both on the subject itself but also to hear from one of Africa’s tourism gurus who has turned plans into action, action into progress and put the Seychelles on the global map.
Watch this space and follow proceedings in Lusaka again on the IIPT website where regular updates are being posted.