Mr. Taleb Rifai, Secretary General of the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), received at his Madrid Headquarters in Spain on Friday, January 20, 2012, a Seychelles’ delegation comprised of the CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board, Alain St.Ange; the Seychelles Director for Europe, Bernadette Wilemin; the island’s Tourism Head of International Cooperation, Ralph Hissen-Lee; and their Tourism Copywriter and Consultant, Glynn Burridge.
The Seychelles delegation presented to the Secretary General of the UNWTO an invitation to attend the Indian Ocean Vanilla Island’s carnival 2012 as a guest of honor. The Seychelles delegation took the opportunity of the courtesy call on the world’s premier ambassador for tourism to explain the philosophy behind the “Carnaval International de Victoria,” scheduled to be held between March 2-4, 2012, and to drum up support for the event as a platform for showcasing diversity and solidarity at a time of considerable international discord.
During the course of the hour-long meeting, the delegation explained the great value and relevance of the carnival to international tourism to the UNWTO Secretary General, Mr. Rifai, and to his team, securing not only his understanding of, and his support for, the event, but also his acceptance of the invitation to attend the forthcoming edition of the carnival in person. The Seychelles President, Mr. James Michel, and the La Reunion President de la Region, Mr. Didier Robert, both hold the tourism portfolio in their respective governments that form part of the Vanilla Islands group, and are jointly hosts of this 2012 carnival of the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands.
Discussions by the Seychelles delegation at the UNWTO headquarters also covered the damaging effects of the carbon tax on the tourism industry of long-haul destinations such as Seychelles, and on the urgent need for greater international cooperation and resolve in facing the scourge of piracy in the Indian Ocean. Another matter raised was Seychelles’ efforts to maintain air access to the islands following the cessation of services to Europe by the national carrier, Air Seychelles.
“Mr. Rifai’s deep understanding of all the matters we discussed and his pledge of support are invaluable,” stated Alain St.Ange, “and his acceptance of Seychelles’ invitation to be present at the next carnival is a wonderful endorsement of our region’s tourism efforts. Enlisting the understanding and support of Mr. Rifai, the UNWTO Secretary General, in all that we are doing is most encouraging for our tourism industry.”