eTN continues to publish unique perspectives by sitting ministers of tourism. After last week’s view from the Honorable Walter Mzembi, the Tourism Minister from Zimbabwe, eTN reached out today to the Honorable Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles Minister of Tourism & Culture.
The very visible and popular Seychelles Minister of Tourism and Culture and a long-time eTN reader and supporter has this to say.
“Terrorism is a crime. This we all know and we just cannot accept this as a fait accompli. Ministers responsible for Tourism just cannot be bye-standers in this crazy uprising by terrorists and would-be terrorists. No one should be looking for excuses as to why we are seeing this increase in what the world is calling acts of terrorism. Ministers responsible for tourism have the responsibility for the livelihood of the citizens of their respective country, this responsibility is the result of the importance of tourism in our very own economy and also in the world’s economy. This responsibility Ministers have is also to ensure that the life we all know, the life we all appreciate and the life we all often take for granted does not just disappear. Without tourism the possibility to travel as we know it today will disappear because there is no air transport without tourism. This is scary, but this is food for thought as all Ministers of Tourism continue to meet each other at world tourism or aviation forums. Ministers of Tourism have a responsibility and they all need join together to rise up to the challenge. The World expects no less.
This is exactly why on the 23rd November of last year I personally wrote to Mr. Taleb Rifai, the Secretary General of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) to propose a meeting on security matters, on the need to protect our safety label and for discussing with the world press their own involvement in safeguarding the industry that makes or break many an economy of the Community of Nations.
Tourism Ministers have an open door policy with the press fraternity and this is why the time has arrived for us to meet with the press to ensure the ‘right to information’ as we know it does not encourage the destruction of everyone’s ‘right to life’ and everyone’s aspiration to economic freedom. Tourism Ministers and Journalists are together custodians of the safety label of the World of Tourism and in so doing the freedom of the world.
My letter to Mr. Taleb Rifai, the Secretary General of the UNWTO dated 23rd November 2015 reflects on my perspective as a sitting Minister of Tourism and my continued drive to work to safeguard the industry I love with a lot of passion, but also the industry my beautiful Seychelles islands depends on, because tourism is today the pillar of its economy.
I paste below a copy of my letter to Mr. Rifai because it speaks for itself, and I am happy at the same time to confirm that Mr. Taleb Rifai of the UNWTO is hosting a meeting during FITUR in Madrid to get the ball rolling on the need to for Tourism Ministers to move from being bye-standers to leading the awareness campaign in the fight against destructive acts of terror.”
Letter to the UNWTO Secretary General
dated November 23, 2015
Mr. Taleb Rifai,
Dear Mr. Rifai, Dear Friend,
We are writing from the middle of the Indian Ocean to follow the idea floated now with many Tourism Minister colleagues for a meeting under the auspices of the UNWTO for Tourism Ministers and press personalities.
Seychelles is offering to be the venue for such a meeting because of its location between East and West, and more importantly because of its impeccable safety label. The recent attacks in Paris and in Mali makes it opportune and very timely for us to be calling such a meeting, and for us to be seen to be not bye-standers anymore in the domain that affects us and our industry.
Mr. Rifai this email is to propose to you, and to the UNWTO to consider taking over as the catalyst and to spearhead the calling of a meeting on security matters, on the need to protect our safety label and for discussing with the world press their own involvement in safeguarding the industry that makes or break many an economy of the Community of Nations.
The attached interview you gave only last weekend highlights very clearly the need for such a meeting:
Your interview goes hand in hand with the attached article that followed my own drive calling for such a meeting:
Tourism industry: We cannot just watch but instead we have to join in
The world has been deeply shocked by the recent tragic attacks perpetrated in Paris and Mali, and Tourism Ministers the world over have been signing Condolence books at the French Embassies right across the world. On the behalf of the international tourism community, Taleb Rifai, the Secretary General of the UNWTO expressed his heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of the victims and to the French people in this difficult moment as he said, “We are facing a global threat and this is not an attack on France, it is an attack against us all.”
Many tourism Ministers have been discussing on the need for them to meet with the press. It is today agreed in the World of Tourism that Tourism Ministers and Journalists are together custodians of the safety label of the World of Tourism and in so doing the freedom of the world. It is believed that after recent tragic attacks in Paris, Mali, Tunisia, Brussels, Thailand, Kenya among others a security meeting is indeed timely. This is a security meeting where Tourism Ministers can sit with the Press Fraternity and analyses the impact when a safety label is lost for a Tourism Destination.
In Seychelles Alain St.Ange, the island’s Minister responsible for Tourism and Culture was one who personally visited the French Embassy in Victoria to sign the Condolence Book after the recent tragic attacks in Paris. The island’s President James Michel also personally went to the French Embassy in Seychelles to sign the Condolence Book as did many other dignitaries of the Seychelles.
Following the Paris and Mali attacks Minister Alain St.Ange of the Seychelles met with Minister Jean-Paul Adam, the island’s Minister responsible for Finance, Trade and the Blue Economy to discuss the idea of a Security Meeting held in Seychelles. “We have a perfect Safety Label and we are geographically situated between the East and the West.
We remain a leader in the world of tourism and believe that we could be the ideal venue for a Safety Meeting where Tourism Ministers and the Press Fraternity could sit together with Taleb Rifai of the UNWTO” said Minister St.Ange of the Seychelles as he was sounding his colleagues on the proposal.
“Of course Ministers responsible for Police would also be part of this meeting as well as Security Experts & Security Agencies, the Police, Tourism Industry representatives” the Seychelles Minister said as he was canvassing for support for his idea.
The world today knows that tourism is the industry that keeps economies around the globe alive. This is why it is being said that a new voice for the call for untarnished safety labels is needed and that Taleb Rifai of the UNWTO and Tourism Ministers cannot just sit back and wait for the world to become a better place when the tourism industry is taking knocks every time a terrorist attack takes place in tourism destination.” We cannot just watch but instead we have to join in, we have to participate to state our case and seek even closer cooperation with the press community.
It is us that should be spearheading actions to make the difference” Minister St.Ange of the Seychelles said.
Mr. Rifai I am taking the liberty of copying this email to Ministers of Tourism and Tourism Boards as well as to WTTC and PATA and appeal to you for us to join together to organize a January meeting for our industry in Seychelles,
Sincere regards and take this opportunity to thank you for having been the leader we all needed in the Community of Nations as the defender of tourism,
Ministry of Tourism & Culture
Republic of Seychelles