UNWTO CANDIDACY BOOSTED
(Posted 10th January 2017)
On the 30th December Sir James Mancham, the first President of the Seychelles wrote a piece titled Opinion – Loustau-Lalanne and St. Ange on the tourism road ahead. That was but days before this Senior Statesman passed away.
‘Upon hearing the passing off Sir James I was reminded of his Opinion piece published but some ten days ago. His words remain an encouragement and has given me more determination than ever to seek support of the International Community for my bid to become the Secretary General of the UNWTO‘ said Alain St.Ange who was on a working visit to Europe when he heard of the passing of Sir James Mancham.
‘Sir James had become very much a mentor for me. He understood the need for visibility and he appreciated the work the team at the Tourism Board was doing to keep the island’s tourism industry working with success. He was a leader who inspired others to succeed and at our meetings in my office or dinners at his residence I always realised that I was lucky to have Sir James as a friend. Today I say thank you Sir James. Your endorsement of my candidacy means so much‘ said Alain St.Ange who Sir Mancham endorsed as the candidate for the post of Secretary General of the UNWTO when he wrote ‘In the spirit that Seychelles should reflect the sentiments of a small country, with a small population, which thinks big I personally have no hesitation, at this time, to sponsor Mr St Ange’s candidature for the position‘.
In his article entitled Opinion of the 30th of December 2016, Sir James Mancham wrote: ‘So it is now public knowledge that Alain St Ange has resigned as Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine and that President Danny Faure has submitted the name of Mr Maurice Loustau-Lalanne to the National Assembly for his appointment as the new Minister for Tourism. As for the outgoing Minister St Ange, who had once been an active member of the Seychelles National Party (SNP), which was in Opposition to President Michel, the latter having taken note of his public relation talents offered him the opportunity to prove himself as the head of the Tourism Board. St Ange, who for some years had been the managing director of Denis Island, could not resist the opportunity of becoming the Chief Executive of the Seychelles Tourism Board when President Michel offered him the post. He became so successful in that position that he was appointed Minister for Tourism to which later was added the portfolio of Culture. St Ange started marketing the country from being only a sun, sea and sand destination to an event based tourism spot where culture takes an important place in marketing destination. His special achievements have been the success of organising annual events like Carnaval International de Victoria and Festival Kreol. Recognising the potential of the Seychellois living overseas in promoting their native land with pride and conviction, he started engaging the diaspora as tourism ambassadors within the foreign cities they happen to be residing. They developed the slogan “If you cannot take the Seychellois out of Seychelles, you also cannot take Seychelles out of Seychellois”.
I personally felt flattered that whenever I met him to congratulate him on some of his initiatives and achievements he would immediately respond “Sir James, I am only taking a few pages out of your book”. St Ange never forgot that I was the person who opened up international tourism in Seychelles when I made history by disembarking from the first wide-bodied plane that landed here in Seychelles – a British Airways VC10 in 1971 – and historically became the first Minister for Tourism in the country.
Now, Mr St Ange’s explanation for his prompt resignation is that he is making a bid for a position in an international organisation. In this case I think we are all assuming that he is aiming to become the Secretary General of the World Tourism Organisation which is the United Nations Agency responsible for the promotion of sustainable and universally accessible tourism. It is the leading international organisation in the field of tourism which promotes tourism as a driver of economic growth inclusive development and environmental sustainability and offers leadership and support to the sector in advancing knowledge and tourism policy worldwide.
It encourages the implementation of the global code of ethics for tourism to maximise the contribution of tourism to socio-economic development while minimising its possible negative impacts and is committed to promoting tourism as an instrument on achieving the United Nations millennium development goals geared towards reducing poverty and fostering sustainable development.
The World Tourism Organisation was founded in 1975 with headquarters in Madrid.
Now, what are the chances of Minister St Ange getting this high important international position in today’s competitive environment?
I would rate it as good if not very good. Why? To the best of my information, knowledge and belief Mr St Ange has over the years developed a close and friendly relationship with Mr Geoffrey Lipman, who has over recent time been special advisor to the Jordanian secretary general of the World Tourism Organisation Mr Taleb Rifai who has held the post since being elected in 2010.
Geoffrey Lipman was the first President of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) to global business forum. Between 1990 – 1999 he shaped his agenda and positioned travel and tourism as the world’s largest industry as well as its Millennium Vision for open markets, elimination of barriers and sustainable development.
Geoffrey Lipman spent 20 years with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) where he was Chief of Staff and Head of Government Affairs, later as executive director of IFAPA, the foundation representing passengers and as partner in a Global Aviation Associates, a strategic airline consultancy specialising in government relations and competition matters.
Mr St Ange would certainly be a strong and important candidate if he was to be nominated by or get his nomination seconded by Mr Lipman who is an influential international tourism leader.
Alain St Ange delivers his speeches fluent in both French and English. He could also get the support of the world of La Francophonie thus the support of France. As a pioneer of the Vanilla Tourism Island initiative he created a very warm and friendly relation with Monsieur Didier Robert, President of the Regional Council of Reunion, which is a French territory. If St Ange’s nomination could attract France support this could be of paramount importance to him.
One should not also overlook the role which E-turbo news, an important news wire based in Hawaii and particularly focused on tourism, has played in promoting Seychelles tourism development under Minister St Ange. In fact St Ange has cultivated a very friendly collaboration with Mr Juergen Steinmetz, president and founder of eTurbo News over recent years.
With such type of support Mr St Ange certainly stands in an excellent position to be nominated and elected as the next secretary general of WTO. In the spirit that Seychelles should reflect the sentiments of a small country, with a small population, which thinks big I personally have no hesitation, at this time, to sponsor Mr St Ange’s candidature for the position‘.
Alain St. Ange, inspite of the news from home that Sir James had passed away, took strength and comfort from the late Sir James’ endorsement and words and vowed to fulfill the expectations back home as he is about to formally launch his bid to succeed Dr. Taleb Rifai at the head of UNWTO.