The Seychelles delegation headed by Sherin Naiken, CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board, attended the First World Conference on Tourism Development in the Peoples Great Hall of China, Beijing, on Thursday, May 20, 2016. The event which was jointly organized by the China National Tourism Administration and the UNWTO (UN World Tourism Organization) was attended from the Seychelles side by Vivianne Fock Tave, the Seychelles Ambassador to the Peoples Republic of China; Jean luc Lai Lam, Seychelles Tourism Board Manager for China; and Stephanie Lablache and Lee Huan, both Seychelles Tourism Board Senior Marketing Executives based in Seychelles and Beijing respectively.
Important guests at the event were Mr. Li Keqiang, Prime Minister of the Republic of China; Mr. Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, President of Mozambique; and Mr. Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization who all addressed the 1,000 delegates at the opening ceremony. The delegates were from over a hundred countries which consisted of both government organizations as well as leading tourism partners from the private sector.
The summit agenda was on Sustainable Development through Tourism, Tourism for Poverty Reduction, and Tourism for Peace, and it was moderated by the famous CNN television anchor, Richard Quest. The day ended with the adoption of the Beijing Declaration.
The topic which relates more to Seychelles and which was the most interesting debate of the day was attaining the sustainable development goals (SDGs) through tourism. The debate centered on what countries are required to do to use tourism as the vehicle to achieve their SDGs. Indeed, the various participants in the debate stressed on the need to have a more cohesive approach between the various units – public and private – if the SDGs are to be achieved. Among the various subject matters raised were the role of the public and private sector, the need to work together, and the need for the SDGs to be understood by all levels of the government as well as by the business community. As one participant shared, “All the ministers in the government are ipso facto a minister for tourism!”
The head of the delegation, Ms. Naiken, had a lot to share to other delegates in between sessions, as the summit did not have open plenary sessions. “Seychelles has had decades of experience and lots of success stories in sustainable development,” shared Miss Naiken to a delegate, “The cornerstone of every policy and law in Seychelles has been sustainability.”
The new sustainable development agenda, which came into effect in January 2016, succeeded the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) launched in 2000 to which Seychelles managed to attain almost all of it, some even before the process started. Seychelles is well under way to attain the new set of targets.
Seychelles is a founding member of the International Coalition of Tourism Partners (ICTP) .