Sherin Naiken, CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board, was invited to present and be a panelist at the UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organisation) Small Islands Development States (SIDS) conference on the exotic island of the Nassau in the Bahamas to share experience on regional integration, more specifically the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands initiatives under the UNWTO theme of the conference, “Tourism as a key sector for development in the island states.”
The conference which addressed a whole range of relevant issues for island destinations such as the competitiveness and sustainability, regional integration, air connectivity, travel facilitation and risk management also had with aim to build upon the conclusions of the “Conference on Sustainable Development of Tourism in Islands” held in Reunion Island in September 2013. The recommendations from the conference also intended to serve as a guidance to National Tourism Authorities and the international community as an input to the Third International Conference on SIDS, scheduled to convene in September 2014 in Samoa also as a follow up to the Rio +20 conference.
Ms Naiken spoke about the spirit of working with neighbouring countries to put the region in the forefront and increase the attractiveness of the region collectively as leading tourism destinations.
“there are more for us to benefit by focusing on our commonalities and similarities rather than differences” she continued “we all stand to benefit indirectly when we promote our region.”
She also explains of how it is important to know each others strength and know what complements the various destinations “the Indian Ocean islands, despite being all islands states with lots of similarities, we are blessed by the diversity of our landscape, and to certain extent our people and cuisines”
In her intervention Ms Naiken also explained how jointly the various countries are organising various activities to jointly promote each other, of which she gave example for Seychelles the Carnival Internationale de Victoria which Seychelles has declared their Vanilla Islands event. The event which this year is scheduled for 25-27 April, is a prime opportunity to showcase the region to the huge network of media and press which visits the islands for the occasion.
Other initiatives she highlighted were the fact that as a region they can now come together and negotiate with airlines for inter island connectivity, look at potential markets collectively which they would otherwise not ventured on their own amongst a handful others.
Ms Naiken also attended a closed session with the Ministers of Tourism, Transport and Airline Executives who were present to discuss air connectivity issues.