(eTN) – After joining the Regional Tourism Organization of Southern Africa (RETOSA) last year, Seychelles has added to the regional tourism body a new brand of mixed cultures, the Carnaval International de Victoria.
Boasting of diversified tourist attractions, mostly natural and geographical products, the Southern African region has been added with the annual carnival event, taking place in Seychelles’ capital of Victoria.
South Africa and Zimbabwe were the leading RETOSA members, which participated at the just-ended carnival in Victoria.
The carnival was jointly organized by Seychelles and La Reunion, which form part of the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands.
Seychelles and La Reunion have been able to put the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands on the tourism map, and they have both benefited by increased visibility for their islands in the four corners of the world.
Participants of the carnival called for other countries from Southern and Eastern Africa to sit and see how they can join together and organize such cultural shows in the region.
Alain St. Ange, the former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Seychelles Tourism Board, said the carnival was a “melting pot of cultures” that attracted different cultural groups from across the world, including the famous Brazilian dance, Samba, all aimed at pulling tourists to Seychelles and the Indian Ocean region.
“We wanted diversity, and we wanted the world to meet in Seychelles for the ‘Carnival of Carnivals.’ The 2012 edition of the carnival is achieving this mission,” said St. Ange.
Seychelles President Mr. James Michel and La Reunion President Didier Robert, were announced as world tourism ambassadors, and became the first heads of state to receive a certificate for “Global Leaders for Tourism” awarded by the UN Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
The UNWTO Secretary General, Mr. Taleb Rifai, presented a special certificate to the two heads of state during the official opening of the carnival.
President Michel and his counterpart (Didier Robert) were also announced world ambassadors for tourism by the UNWTO chief, a title that was designed by the UN tourism body to honor heads of state who had committed their working time to campaign for tourism development in their countries.
Mr. Rifai said it was the first time that such a certificate was presented to heads of state and government. He also presented the two presidents with a special letter of acceptance of their titles that were dedicated to promote and develop tourism in Africa, the Indian Ocean, and the world as a whole.
He further said that such a certificate and letters will also be presented to other heads of state across the world who are in the forefront of tourism development.
During his official visit to Seychelles, Mr. Rifai who was accompanied by the UNWTO Regional Director for Africa, Mr. Ousmane Ndiaye, who joined other notable dignitaries at the carnival.
President Michel discussed his vision for the Seychelles tourism industry and its importance in the development agenda of the island, as well as the emphasis that the country is putting in linking tourism with sustainability, environmental sustainability, and social and economic sustainability.
The UNWTO Secretary General said in an interview that his visit to Seychelles on such an occasion is a signal that sends a strong message of support as an international community, hence making sure that the carnival show will become something of a brand not just to Seychelles, but to the other African countries.
President Michel and the UNWTO Chief discussed the significance of taking the local tourism industry to a bigger community by creating a regional tourism organization of the Indian Ocean and Eastern Africa with the assistance of UN in creating a network to support each country of the region.