A delegation from Seychelles Tourism Board comprising of the CEO, Alain St.Ange; director for Europe, Bernadette Willemin; head of International Cooperation, Ralph Hissen-Lee and tourism copywriter and consultant, Glynn Burridge paid a courtesy call on UNWTO head, Talib Rifai, on Friday 20 January after attending the FITUR tourism trade fair in Madrid, Spain.
Underscoring the importance of maintaining contact with all parties in a people-oriented industry, Alain St.Ange, the CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board explained, ‘Maintaining contact with the UNWTO is important at a time when Seychelles is facing the twin challenges of recession in some of its core markets and diminished air access caused by the a cessation of flights by the national carrier, Air Seychelles, to European destinations. Our courtesy call upon the head of the United Nations World Tourism Organization reinforces our relationship and allows our voice to be heard.’
The hour-long discussions between the UNWTO chief and the Seychelles’ delegation touched on the upcoming ‘Carnaval International de Victoria’, due to be held between 2nd and 4th March 2012 and Mr. Rifai’s enthusiastic support for, and recognition of the event as a promising platform for showcasing the respective cultures of the participants. With even greater foreign participation anticipated in the 2012, edition of the carnival, the event’s uniqueness centres on its being the Carnaval des Carnavals, the only carnival that hosts representatives of the world’s most famous carnivals – those of Trinidad, Venice, Notting Hill, Dusseldorf, Rio de Janiero and many others. Mr. Rifai spoke at length of his support for an event that showcases the great diversity and unity of the African continent at a time of considerable international discord.
Other matters discussed were the negative effects of the carbon tax which are particularly discriminative against long-haul destinations such as the Seychelles Islands that have done so much to conserve the integrity of their environments but which now see their efforts in this, and other, directions undermined by the introduction of a tax many consider to be both counter-productive and unfair. Much was also made of the pressing need for the international community to show greater resolve and unity in fighting the scourge of piracy in the Indian Ocean region which is threatening the livelihood of entire nations and the crippling effect it is having on, for example, the cruise ship industry, artisanal fisheries and other tourism-related concerns.
“Eventhough our main tourism industry based on our main islands remain untouched by this piracy plague because of the distance that seperates us from Somalia, our shipping routes are being affected and our region as a whole remains under the perception that this 21st Century Plague is on all our doorsteps. We need unity in purpose to fight and rid the Community of Nations of this unacceptable behaviour that is spoiling the name of the great Continent of Africa” Alain St.Ange said.
‘Our frank and cordial discussions with the leading ambassador for the global tourism industry allowed us to address many issues and challenges facing today’s tourism industries and the understandings we have reached have laid a promising foundation for these matters to be taken up by the international agencies concerned’, stated Alain St.Ange after the meeting. ‘Having the opportunity to highlight these problems and the need to arrive at global solutions has made our delegation’s trip to the UNWTO headquarters in Madrid, an extremely worthwhile one.’ Alain St.Ange esaid as he left the UNWTO Head Quarters in Madrid.