STAKEHOLDERS DISMISS STB AUDIT HULLABALOO AS OF NO CONSEQUENCE
Regular contributors from the Seychelles islands used the long Easter weekend to make their feelings known over what one individual called misplaced focus about the audit reports the Seychelles Tourist Board had submitted for the past six years. When Alain St. Ange was brought on initially as Director of Tourism Marketing, the board had not had audits carried out for the preceding years, and when elevated to the position of CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board, besides being ever present everywhere around the world to promote the archipelago, the administrative side was not neglected. In fact, the arrival of Elsia Grandcourt as Deputy CEO saw her concentrate largely in putting the house in order and attend to such pending administrative duties and regulatory requirements, and when in early March the announcement was made that Alain St. Ange was promoted by President James Michel to the position of Minister of Tourism and Culture, and Elsia Grandcourt in turn appointed CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board, audits and annual accounts had been brought up to date and the omissions of the past administrations been taken care of.
I am astonished about certain comments being floated about the STB audits. What is fact is that the previous administration was in default and when Mr. St. Ange became CEO, working under a new board of directors under the chairmanship of Mr. Barry Faure, then Secretary of State in the Presidents Office, he immediately started to clear the backlog. What those now trying to make a case from do not realize is that this is known as a problem left by the previous chairman of STB at a time when tourism faced a very uncertain future. That administration had lost the way and the confidence of the private sector. Since the two major restructurings of STB everything has changed. The private sector has confidence, the results are for all to see, openly wrote one source in an email over the weekend.
Another source took issue with criticism voiced by the same quarters over STBs foreign marketing offices: We have several layers of marketing and PR in place in our key markets. For one there are our own STB offices which are now staffed by Seychellois who are competent and committed. Then we have tourism attaches on diplomatic level at important Consulates and Embassies and High Commissions. And then we have our tourism ambassadors around the world, all Seychellois with passion to promote their home country in the markets where they live. When you look at the media reports, they are all envying us about such structures and set up. Making use of our own citizens as tourism ambassadors is now being copied by others. Our marketing directors are respected members of the tourism industry and are largely responsible for the day to day contacts, working with travel agents and airlines to make things happen. By end of March we are slightly ahead of last year arrivals. The private sector does not understand why there should be criticism when success is there. The new vision for Brand Seychelles brought success and has propelled our industry to new levels since those days in 2008 and before. But such success also breeds envy which is not good. We must work hand in hand, private and public sector, to promote even harder, in new markets, and that is why our Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association has asked for greater funding from government. That is the way forward, not paying attention to such rumours and comments made by individuals who maybe have their own agenda. Even as I write the top management of Blue Panorama airlines of Italy is here and so is the head of the STB office in Italy Rose Monette and Willemine Bernadette, the STB Marketing Director for Europe to discuss closer cooperation and joint marketing initiatives.
Regular sources from within the tourism board did not comment on the reports, probably an indication that none in authority found it worthwhile to respond and rather let the facts speak for themselves.
Meanwhile has the STB juggernaut continued to make waves within the SADC region with talks about closer cooperation of not only the Vanilla Islands but also talks with South African officials to strengthen cooperation and work towards more twin centre holiday offers. It was also learned over the weekend that discussions between the administration of La Reunion and their Seychelles counterparts it was agreed to take a fresh look at direct airlinks between the two islands with the aim to stimulate more island hopping.
La Reunion was co-host of this years Carnival International de Victoria and will very likely be joined next year by more co-hosts, as other Vanilla Islands have shown willingness to join the bandwagon, now that the festival has become a runaway success.
In another positive development it was also confirmed that Etihad, Abu Dhabis national airline, has struck a deal with STB to become official airline for the SUBIOS Festival of the Sea while Emirates is already signed up as official airline for the annual Carnival International de Victoria, leaving Qatar Airways as the third major carrier from the Gulf exploring their own option to partner with STB for one of the other significant festivals the archipelago now hosts under a newly outlined events calendar. Watch this space as Seychelles truly remains Another World.