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Seychelles works towards implementing African Union 2063 agenda through tourism development at AU Working Group on Tourism meeting

Seychelles works towards implementing African Union 2063 agenda through tourism development at AU Working Group on Tourism meeting (Forimmediaterelease.net) The Seychelles Minister for Tourism and Culture, H.E. Alain St.Ange, officially opened the first African Union Working Group on Tourism meeting at the Seychelles Kempinski Resort today with a view to strengthen the contribution of this industry to transforming Africa`s development prospects.

Seychelles is hosting this meeting following the visit of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission to Seychelles in June 2013, when Seychelles highlighted the need for more policy coherence in tourism at the continental level.

The working group aims to propose practical contributions to implementing Agenda 2063 - the AU`s strategy for the next 50 years. The group`s recommendations will be considered by the wider African Union in this context.

The opening ceremony was also addressed by H.E. Jean-Paul Adam, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic Seychelles; H.E. Dr. Elham M. A. Ibrahim, the AU (African Union) Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy; H.E Minister Martinus Van Schalkwyk, Minister of Tourism of the Republic of South Africa; and H.E Mr. Regis Immongault, Minister of Industry, Mines and Tourism of the Republic of Gabon.

Dr. Elham M. A. Ibrahim spoke about the possible opportunities for Africa if tourism as an industry was taken more seriously. Dr. Ibrahim thanked Seychelles for making the proposal for Africa to unite under the AU for a concerted look at tourism on the continent. Minister Van Schalkwyk underlined the need for practical policy proposals that strengthen the development of tourism as a key “export” industry for Africa, and Minister Immongault highlighted that “Tourism can be a unifying factor for the continent" when they addressed the conference.

In his address, Minister Jean-Paul Adam stressed that Africa had the potential to construct a new narrative for itself that was achievable through tourism development. This new narrative encompasses inclusive growth, wealth shared across borders, and sustainable development based on the creation of opportunities for local peoples.

Minister Adam envisaged that the African Union`s 2063 Agenda could be realized if economic fundamentals were reinforced transforming African`s developmental framework using tourism as the vehicle to provide this particular economic fundamental.

Minister Adam urged the delegates to seek ways to reinforce the African tourism brand taking the strengths of all existing national and regional efforts to create an unprecedented global impact, offering a truly African experience in all of its diversity. This is linked to Seychelles` Tourism Strategy initiative, which builds on the pillars of African independence and embedded in the ideals of the African Union.

Seychelles an insular, small island state realizes that “her own sustainable development is vitally linked, primarily to its partners in Africa and without regional development, Seychelles` own development will be hindered,” stated Minister Adam. Moreover, he viewed tourism as a key element in the development of the concept of the “blue economy.”

Minister Jean-Paul Adam reiterated Seychelles` desire to bring the transformation required to make the Agenda 2063 possible and hoped to see the reflections of the conference to work with the AU Commission towards developing an overarching framework for tourism development to be considered by the Assembly of the African Union.

Minister Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles Minister responsible for Tourism and Culture, said before declaring open the African Union Ministerial Working Group meeting that this AU meeting was historic, because this was an attempt for Africa as a continent to take a look at an industry that member states were working hard to consolidate all alone.

“The time is right, the time is opportune for Africa to work with Africa, if Africa wants to grow the meager 5% international visitor arrivals we today welcome out of the one billion tourists crisscrossing the world of tourism. We in Africa need to agree to grow our tourism cake. We can assure everyone that the idea of growing the cake does not, and here I repeat does not, mean to suggest that the AU will be marketing our respective countries. We need to get Africa more seen, we need to make Africa more visible and recognized as a tourism region. We simply need an African brand, a brand seen at tourism trade fairs and a region working hand in hand with the UNWTO," Minister St.Ange said.

“Yes we shall still have our challenges, but united under the Africa brand, the political will to combat the challenges of rivalry and adopt a new approach of `we complement` each other will one day follow. Let us make tourism a key industry for Africa. We Africans need this; we need an African brand," Minister St.Ange said as he declared open the African Union Ministerial Working Group meeting.

PHOTO: Addressing the opening ceremony of the AU Ministerial Working Group meeting Jean Paul Adam, Dr. Elham M. A. Ibrahim, Regis Immongault, Martinus Van Schalkwyk, and Alain St.Ange. At the bottom, a group picture of the ministers and heads of delegations at the meeting.

MEDIA CONTACT: seychellesupdatednews@googlemail.com

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