Vatel Mauritius on exploratory visit to Seychelles

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Renaud Azema has been given the responsiblity to spread the Vatel Brand Over the Indian Ocean and in the Southern Africa Region since 2014 by M. Sebban, the Founder and President of the Group. This opportunity emerged after Mr Azema and a Malagasi friend identified what they were doing in Mauritius with Vatel, as a possible solution for the tourism sector in Madagascar as well.

What Renaud Azema was doing in Mauritius in 2014 was very simple. They were developing young managers to feed the local hospitality industry with middle manager through a balanced program where theory and practical had been given an equivalent importance. This model set by Vatel Worldwide had given positive results everywhere in the world, and the results they had obtained so far in Mauritius encouraged them to set up a school in Antananarivo in Madagascar which is now after 5 years a proven success: 190 students, an MBA in eco-tourism and a second campus opening in Morodava later this year.

Confident in what they had achieved in Mauritius and in Madagascar, they opened a School in Reunion Island, for the same reason and because the industry was missing the crucial qualified middle managers. To succeed in this very different context they chose to seek the assistance of an experienced couple who was training people for the hotel industry for the past 25 years. Their experience and their incredible network in the hospitality sector, enabled the Vatel School in St Paul, to rapidly emerged as a vital complement to what was done so far in this island in terms of education.

A year before, they had had the opportunity to set up a school in Kigali, Rwanda, together with a former student of Vatel France, who originated from Rwanda and who was willing to bring to the country what she had received as a gift, abroad. In two years Nicole Bamukunde and her husband Paul, have managed to sign an agreement with Master Card foundation which invests massively (50M USD) in the tourism sector of this African country, as a pilot project for Africa.

All this venture and their successes encouraged Renaud Azema and his Team to go further and to continue to propose a solution to each destination having set tourism as a priority to sustain their economic growth. It is the case in most countries in Southern Africa region, where they have already targeted to open schools, but it is also the case in Seychelles, where tourism represents two third of the national income. Renaud Azema says that he believes that , where the tourism is having that importance, it is not a choice to have a highly effective education supplier to train the youth locally, to sustain the qualitative development of this main pillar of the economy; “It a must” he says.

Seychelles has local institutions already in place but Renaud Azema still firmly believes that a Vatel school in Seychelles could bring the sector more options to face the challenges ahead. This being said without minimizing their contribution to the development of the qualification needed,

Renaud Azema says that he wont insist on the Vatel USP’s, as the first international group of hotel schools in the world. He instead says that he would like just to recall the fact attached to the development of Vatel in the region and particularly in Mauritius.

From nothing in 2009 they have managed to enrolled more than 1200 student over the past ten years. They have created 30 jobs full time plus, 60 in part time. They are receiving this year 360 students (enrolments 2019) for their two programs, amongst which 140 international students. “Those students bring a huge contribution to the country: they pay more than the Mauritians for their tuition fees and they spend a considerable amount on accommodation, living expenses and entertainment. Additionally, they attract more tourists as well by making their parents and relatives come to Mauritius to visit them. The model so stated bring at the moment 50M MRU to the country , excluding tuition fees…. This make me think that our school is not only a school, but a real actor of the economic sector, contributing to the achievement of the goals set in the tourism strategy of each destination. I was in Seychelles the past three days to identify the best option to set such a tool locally. There are many options from a PPP to a fully private initiative and nothing should be thrown away without due consideration. I met the public sector and I had a short conversation with the Minister of Education who is now aware of our wish to extend the Vatel network here. I had met the Minister of Tourism earlier, at the end of last year to express same. I also met the two main actors on training in the tourism sector so far , namely the STA and the UNISEY. Both management shown a real interest in partnering with Vatel. After my meetings I believe that this could be an opportunity to reconsider globally the education in tourism and create the appropriate synergies between the main actors on this small market. I also met the private sector and confirmed their need in term of qualified , committed, motivated, and ambitious Seychellois for the sector. Finally I managed to meet individuals who are fully skilled and experienced to manage a unit of excellence in order to serve the industry properly . To conclude I would say that the momentum is clearly in favour of the setting up of a Vatel School in Seychelles and that all the actors present could be part of the deal. The Awareness Day organized by the ANHRD on the 27 of Febuary, clearly confirmed the wish of some young Seychellois to embrace a career in the tourism sector. This leads to a thought : Instead of financing this youth to go abroad to obtain a qualification, it could be more financially efficient and definitely more sustainable to support a local tertiary institution to train them regionally (internships are there to open them to the world). This will even help to attract international students with the virtues presented above” said Renaud Azema.

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