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Seychelles and La Reunion meet to discuss tourism cooperation

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The Seychelles President, Mr. James Michel, and the President de la region La Reunion, Mr.

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The Seychelles President, Mr. James Michel, and the President de la region La Reunion, Mr. Didier Robert, assisted the opening the opening of the 2011 Seychelles Tourism Board’s Annual Marketing Meeting, which this year was being held jointly with the IRT, the La Reunion Island Tourism Office.

Opening the meeting, which was held at Le Meridien Barbarons Beach Hotel on Mahe, Alain St.Ange, the CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board, said that this joint Seychelles-La Reunion marketing meeting was a first and that he was thankful to the Seychelles President James Michel and Mr. Didier Robert of La Reunion for having brought the marketing teams of the two islands together to see how Seychelles and La Reunion could cooperate and strategize together for the promotion of the two islands. Both the Seychelles President and the President de la region La Reunion personally hold the tourism portfolios in their respective governments.

In his opening address, Alain St.Ange said: “As I welcome you to the 2011 Tourism Marketing Meeting, and this opportunity for cooperation, brainstorming, and the formulation of the strategies that will carry our industry forward in these challenging times, I want today on behalf of the Board of the Tourism and on behalf of the management and staff of the Tourism Board [to] say that the Seychelles Tourism Board remains focused on its mission, and that it will continue to rise to the challenge. We realize that the pillar of our economy is so dependent on us, and we assure our country that on our watch, tourism as our main industry will continue to prosper.

“This year, we convene our annual Marketing Meeting under the banner, ‘Raising Seychelles profile: Seizing every opportunity,’ and one opportunity we have immediately seized is to be able to also welcome the Reunion Tourism Board under the direction of my counterpart, Mr. Pascal Viroleau, to our deliberations.

“The collaboration between La Reunion Island and Seychelles is a fine example of the kind of cooperation we shall need to cultivate in order to be able to further our country’s individual aims, while advancing those of the region. Both of our islands complement each other wonderfully, as the grand fusion of our respective blues and greens and national attributes into a vibrant regional cohesion that transcends distance, borders, and cultures.

“Such collaboration comes at precisely the right moment if we are to maintain our own in this competitive world. As we speak, we know that the Maldives and Mauritius are launching initiatives of their own. Mauritius, for example, is set to launch this coming December an advertising blitz-like campaign in France. La Reunion itself undertakes two such initiatives every year. And this is happening now as we speak, when us in Seychelles are sitting against a backdrop of the difficulties that Air Seychelles is currently facing, and which is seeing them being forced to pull out of some of our core markets with the possible negative impact on our hard-won visitor arrivals.

“It is indeed encouraging for Seychelles, that with the private sector as partners, we have already started down the road of the diversification of our tourism markets. We also continue to see the consolidating of our industry under the public/private sector partnership, which has made such progress since its inception, allowing us to weather the storms of internal financial restructuring and those associated with the recession that continues to loom over our traditional, European markets.

“To slightly tweak an old saying – ‘No island can, today, be an island unto itself.’ It is in constructing bridges based on common interest that we shall be able to navigate the challenges before us, and I am particularly pleased to have the presence of the La Reunion Tourism Board with us today as tangible proof of the type of synergy we need to develop.

“However, the need for diversification does not just lie in the domain of our markets but also in our local ‘brand’ of tourism, summoning us to build on what we have achieved so far, and continue to develop and refine a variety of international events with which we can continue to raise the profile of Seychelles and the region, and win the media coverage so essential to achieving that aim.

“The ‘Seychelles Brand of Tourism’ launched by President Michel has opened the door for Seychelles to claim back their industry. This ‘Brand of Tourism’ states that Seychellois must be involved if Seychellois is to defend their industry that remains the pillar of our economy.

“The ‘Seychelles Brand of Tourism’ has also propelled Seychelles into the world of events. Seychelles is now proud to stage many great and exciting events for our very own people and as tourism events. We have our great carnival in March that brings the world to Victoria, as we have SUBIOS, our Festival of the Sea, that has been re-launched to ‘put en valeur’ our clean and clear turquoise blue seas and the white sandy beaches we have. This is why this year we moved the entertainment stage of that Festival of the Sea onto our seas and out of a car park. We also have our Festival Kreol, the Eco-Healing Marathon, the Annual Regatta sailing race, Fishing Tournaments, La Fet LaDig, Miss Seychelles Beauty Contest, and the annual Seychelles Ball, etc.

“Mr. President, Mr. Robert, members of our industry at large, yesterday the Seychelles Tourism Board and the La Reunion Delegation met to discuss cooperation between our two islands. By the end of this marketing, we shall be in a position to announce agreements reached by our two islands.

“Trade partners, we need to continue to work closely together in the coming days to construct the partnerships, the tools, and, above all, the determination to continue to succeed.”

Ambassador Barry Faure, the Secretary of State in the Seychelles President’s Office and Chairman of the Seychelles Tourism Board and Pascal Viroleau also took to the podium and addressed the opening ceremony of the 2011 Marketing Meeting in Seychelles and both said that the initiative of close cooperation between the two islands was a positive move and a move that came at the right time.

Attending the meeting in Seychelles was a delegation of the La Reunion marketing team headed by Passcal Viroleau, and the Seychelles Tourism Country Managers coming from all the Seychelles Offices from the four corners of the world and the Seychelles private sector trade.

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Editor in chief is Linda Hohnholz.