It has been said that when a speaker or presenter puts his notes aside, you can be assured that what he is about to say is coming from his spirit and what you are about to hear is the real deal. This was the case when Seychelles Minister Alain St.Ange chose not to use his prepared notes to address the United Nations (UN) conference on Sustainable Tourism in Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Those attending the conference got the chance to witness the tourism passion of Minister St.Ange as he was moved to put aside his notes and speak from his spirit. What St.Ange was about to say was unrehearsed, serious and candid on a subject that he holds very dear to his heart.
St.Ange recently went to New York to deliver a keynote address at the UN meeting that was co-organized by the International Organization of the Francophonie (OIF). He went leading a delegation made up of Ambassador Marie-Louise Potter, the Seychelles Permanent Representative to the United Nations and Ambassador Ronny Jumeau, the Seychelles Ambassador for Climate Change and Small Island Developing States. The UN conference was the opportunity for the Republic of the Seychelles to highlight its achievements in the Sustainable Tourism framework.
The Seychelles Minister surprised everyone by saying that the topic being discussed demanded that he spoke from the heart instead of using his prepared official text. “Sustainable Tourism is not just a terminology, it is instead a concept that needed the political will and tenacity. To deliver for our respective population we need to believe in this concept of sustainable tourism and then move to implement it. To be seen and remembered as having been good custodians of what we have been blessed with, we need to act today and follow the sustainable tourism route,” said Minister St.Ange.
MinisterSt.Ange, Ambassador Marie Louise Potter and Consul General Justin Etzin
|ATATrade Relations and Communications Specialist Andrea Papitto, Minister St.Angeand CEO of ATA Eddie Bergman|
By then it was obvious that the minister’s message was heartfelt and he was talking about something that he sincerely believed in. Minister St.Ange went on to say that he wanted Seychelles to be seen and remembered as good custodians of what the islands had been blessed with. He reminded the ambassadors, country representatives and others present that Seychelles had today over 50% of their total land area declared protected zones as Nature Reserves.
A tourism minister known for putting the people first and foremost, St.Ange emphasized that involving people in tourism for Seychelles has been the pillar of their economy because without that approach Seychelles could never have sustainable tourism that could be consolidated for the long term. He also said that his administration had given their culture its rightful place in the tourism development of their country, and that when Seychelles was speaking of culture, Seychelles was speaking of its people which we are putting at the center of their development.
“No Country has the right to be ashamed of their culture and of their people. It is the duty of the Tourism Authorities to showcase one’s culture and in so doing one’s people as real assets of their country,” Minister St.Ange said.
He went on to explain that Seychelles has also embarked on the training of their people to ensure that they could join their tourism industry workforce and how they are presently building a brand new tourism academy. Under Minister’s St.Ange leadership in tourism, Seychelles has continued with the program of Wildlife Clubs in their schools to ensure that their younger generations were developing the interest for appreciating what the islands of the Seychelles had in order to protect these natural attractions and assets.
St.Ange also let it be known that the Seychelles was always extending its hand in the developing of partnership in the region through the Vanilla islands, and in Africa through the new African Union tourism initiative. He said that Seychelles is reaching out to the world through working as a committed partner at the UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organization).
Both Ambassador Potter and Minister St.Ange explained how climate change impacts more broadly the sustainable development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and that this was why that subject matter was seen as being major challenges for the Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) . They reminded everyone present about the importance of believing in the concept of Sustainable Tourism Development. Ambassador Potter and Minister St.Ange are satisfied with how the meeting at the UN turned out, and they were pleased with that member states of the UN were as interested as evident by the lively debates and Q & A sessions during the meeting.
Minister St.Ange also discussed with Ambassador Potter and Consul General Justin Etzin different matters relating to a greater presence by the Seychelles Islands in the USA and the potential of increased promotion of the Seychelles as a holiday destination for the Americans. They analyzed holiday packages for the USA as a target market that would take in an African safari before the relaxing break in the pristine environment of the Seychelles.
Following his UN address and talks with the Ambassador Potter and Consul General, Minister St.Ange met with the CEO of the Africa Travel Association (ATA) Eddie Bergman during his visit to New York. Also present at the meeting between the Africa Travel Association (ATA) and the Seychelles Minister was Andrea Papitto, responsible for Trade Relations and Communications at for ATA.
Bergman briefed Minister St.Ange about the benefits of tourism destinations becoming members of the Africa Travel Association (ATA). Bergman spoke about the next General Assembly of the association that is set for later this year in Uganda and he invited the Seychelles Minister to consider attending the General Assembly and to get involved with the Africa Travel Association. Bergman and Minister St.Ange discussed tourism promotion for Seychelles and a possible cooperation with the ATA.
Minister St.Ange is a founding member of the International Coalition of Tourism Partners (ICTP), an organization dedicated to green growth and sustainable tourism. He also sits on the Executive Council of United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). For more information about Minister Alain St.Ange, visit: www.alainstange.com