Tourism Ministers from the Indian Ocean islands community rallied under the Indian Ocean Commission (COI) to discuss tourism and the marketing of tourism in the Indian Ocean. President Didier Robert of La Reunion island welcomed everyone to La Reunion and to the meeting, as President of the host island, and the Seychelles Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Jean Paul Adam, in his capacity as the sitting President of the Indian Ocean Commission had the honor to officially declare the La Reunion Tourism Ministers Summit open after he had addressed all present on the importance of tourism for the region. Minister Adam was followed by Mr. Jean Claude de L’Estrac, the Secretary General of the Indian Ocean Commission.
Tourism Ministers of the five islands of the COI in the Indian Ocean region then took to the podium. All addressed the need to rally as a region wanting tourism for their respective islands, and all agreed on the importance of tourism for their respective island.
Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles Minister responsible for Tourism and Culture, and President of the Vanilla Islands Regional Organization, was the last to take to the podium. Minister St.Ange spoke passionately about keeping tourism out of politics, religion, and color of the skin. “Tourism is the industry that can put money in the pockets of the people of our respective islands, and tourism is the industry that can turn our respective economies around. But we need to understand tourism, and we need to work with tourism and not against it,” Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles Minister responsible for Tourism and Culture said.
Mr. St.Ange also took time to explain the raison d’etre behind the formation of the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands Regional Organization. “We needed a tourism label that would encompass all the tourism islands of our region. We will need to work to bring together all other islands of our region, who like us, want to develop tourism. We need a label to work for our region and with which to market, sell, and promote our islands,” Minister St.Ange said.
The Seychelles Minister also spent time discussing destination marketing and the need to be intelligent and innovative at all times to be ahead in the world of tourism. “Tourism cannot be done from our offices, like a fisherman who does not fish in a fishmongers shop but on fishing spots, we need to be in our tourism markets to be seen, to be visible, and to raise the profile of our destinations,” Minister St.Ange said to the press after the meeting.