Seychelles has taken center stage in the magazine, Global Destinations, the respected magazine for the hospitality and tourism industry.
An interview with Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles Minister responsible for Tourism & Culture, is referred to as the cover story and the main feature of the September/October issue of the magazine with the heading, âOur country is beautiful, it is clean, and it remains probably the last real paradise on Earth.â
Mr. Chandragupta Amritkar, the Editor of Global Destinations magazine, said in his introduction to the Seychelles Report: âWhat a dynamic minister can do to the tourism potential of a country, HE Alain St.Ange, Minister for Seychelles Tourism, is a live example. Thanks to my profession, I have interacted with so many tourism ministers across the globe but none as humble as HE Alain St.Ange.â
With due permission, eTN reproduces the interview by Global Destinations magazine with Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles Minister responsible for Tourism & Culture.
Your Excellency has successfully relaunched Seychelles on the world map. How did you go about doing it?
The successful re-launch of Seychelles on the world map has been a team effort. The Tourism Board and the country's private sector were united as one in our new drive for the Seychelles tourism industry. We realized that we all had to be innovative in our approach and intelligent in how we made our advances on the world stage. Repositioning Seychelles would only be achieved through greater visibility. This we all knew, and we worked with the press from the four corners of the world. Our country is beautiful, it is clean, and it remains probably the last real paradise on Earth, but we needed to get the message out. The press has been great allies, and they continue to be our greatest asset. We only need to continue to be good custodians of what we have been blessed with â our unique landscape and aiming beauty.
Let me also congratulate you on becoming the first President of the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands. What was the main aim of its creation and how would it make a difference to the tourists?
Vanilla Islands is an umbrella for regional tourism that brings value to the attributes of each country in terms of its tourism. It will allow tourists to enjoy increased diversity by island-hopping through the regional destinations.
Both ICTP [International Council of Tourism Partners] and the Routes Africa event tasted success. Any plans to host similar events?
Seychelles will continue to make use of its increased capacity to host such events, and we will continue to look at conferences-forums which are appropriate for us to host in order to raise our national profile and that of our tourism industry. Another conference taking place shortly is the CAF (Confederation of African Football) conference.
Can you throw light on the present tourism scenario?
Presently, our tourism arrival figures are 7% above what they were this time last year, and we continue to work with our core European markets while penetrating new markets in the Middle and Far East, CIS, Africa, and the Americas.
A number of foreign brands are investing in new hotels. How do you see the domestic hotel industry developing?
[The] hotel industry continues to perform better than expected with occupancy rates of around 60%. However, due to the world financial crisis, constructions of some new hotels have been put on hold, although it is expected that this will eventually take up as the world economic situation improves and also given the continued increases in the expected visitor arrival numbers.
When you compared the GDP to tourism, how important is tourism to Seychelles?
Tourism contributes directly over 25% to GDP; however, the figure could be much higher given the linkages with other sectors. It is also the primary source of foreign earnings for the country and government GST receipts, and provider of direct and indirect employment. The wealth from tourism has allowed the government to invest in other sectors such as health and education, and provided the means to preserve our natural asset and environment.
The financial crisis is making sure Europeans travel less, affecting many tourist destinations. Your views:
The recession in Europe is affecting consumer spend but, as Seychelles is not a mass tourism destination, its effect is not as devastating as in other destinations which are targeting lower-income groups. However, we are mindful of the dangers and of the need to remain an attractive holiday choice.
Source: Seychelles Ministry of Tourism & Culture