TANZANIA (eTN) - The annual international carnival in Seychelles is growing into a cultural magnet, pulling Africans together, and boosting tourism in both the Indian Ocean and the rest of the African continent.
Observers at the just-ended âCarnaval International de Victoriaâ said the carnival was the first cultural gathering held in this continent and which pulled a big number of visitors from Southern and Eastern Africa, setting a new path for future development.
âThis carnival is now known to the world as the âCarnival of Carnivals,' because it remains the only carnival where the best and known carnivals of the world descend on Seychelles to walk side by side in a procession alongside cultural groups from the community of nations,â said Alain St.Ange, the newly-appointed minister Seychelles Minister of Tourism and Culture.
Standing as a melting pot of various cultures, Seychelles is a home of various ethnic strains of the original European settlers of 1770 and their retainers, African slaves, as well as numerous Indian and Chinese migrants who today form the well-integrated Seychellois society for whom harmony remains a way of life.
Carnaval International de Victoria and the growing tourist and travel business in Seychelles have now been recognized as pulling magnets of tourists and other travelers to the island, attracting big airlines to increase their frequencies to Victoria.
Kenya Airways has announced to increase its flights from East Africa to Victoria, from two to three flights a week, just a few days after the end of this year's carnival. Ethiopian Airlines has also expressed its plan to launch a four-weekly flight service to Seychelles from April 2 of this year.
It is expected that the two giant airlines in Africa would bring to Seychelles more tourists and other visitors from the rest of the continent and other parts of the world through air connections in Nairobi and Addis Ababa, while attracting more African visitors to participate the forthcoming carnivals in Victoria.
Kenya Airways is affiliated to KLM-Air France, and the forthcoming third frequency between Kenya and Seychelles will open more air access for the mid-Indian Ocean Islands from the rest of the world as well.
"This is very good news for Seychelles, as Kenya Airways is part of an airline global alliance. Kenya Airways remain the longest-serving carrier to the Seychelles, even longer than Air Seychelles," said St.Ange.
This year's carnival was jointly organized by Seychelles and La Reunion, both forming part of Vanilla Islands in the Indian Ocean. Being a member of the Regional Tourism Organization of Southern Africa (RETOSA), Seychelles became a pride of the region during the just-ended carnival.
Participants from Zimbabwe, a strong member of RETOSA, were able to display their country's rich tourist and cultural heritage. Zimbabwe is the official host of the 37th Africa Travel Association (ATA) annual conference to be taking place in the tourist town of Victoria at the famous Victoria Falls.
Top Zimbabwean tourism officials were in Seychelles early this month to witness the carnival. It is anticipated that the 37th ATA Conference will be the second international gathering taking place in Southern African region after the Carnaval International de Victoria.
Seychelles had undoubtedly opened up the Southern African tourism to the rest of the world, taking into consideration that some of carnival participants had extended their stays to other parts of Africa for wildlife safaris, cultural and historical visits, beach holidays and family visits.
Mr. Alain St.Ange said the island stands as an ignition key to make tourism roll ahead, and attract other nations to join forces.
âAlone we can and will make a difference in our own countries â together we can help change the world,â he added.
âSeychelles will persist with reinforcing the policy of social inclusiveness and the precepts of Seychelles' unique brand of tourism by creating a suite of international events such as our âCarnaval International de Victoria' to attract visitors and win the understanding and support of the local population for their tourism industry,â St.Ange said.