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UN (United Nations) hears appeal by Seychelles

UN (United Nations) hears appeal by Seychelles ( Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles Minister responsible for Tourism and Culture, was at the United Nations (UN) this week to deliver a keynote address at the meeting co-organize by the International Organization of the Francophonie (OIF) and the Seychelles on the question of sustainable tourism development in Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

Minister St.Ange was leading a delegation made up by Ambassador Marie-Louise Potter, the Seychelles Permanent Representative to the United Nations, and Ambassador Ronny Jumeau, the Seychelles Ambassador for Climate Change and Small Island Developing States.

The Seychelles Minister surprised everyone by saying that the topic being discussed demanded that he speak from the heart instead of using his prepared official text. “Sustainable tourism is not just a terminology, it is instead a concept that needed the political will and tenacity. To deliver for our respective population we need to believe in this concept of sustainable tourism and then move to implement it. To be seen and remembered as having been good custodians of what we have been blessed with, we need to act today and follow the sustainable tourism route," said Minister Alain St.Ange.

The Minister followed down the line made by Ambassador Potter in her opening remarks. They both said that climate change impacts more broadly the sustainable development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and that this was why that subject matter was seen as being major challenges for the Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) as was being discussed at a meeting at the United Nations on Monday the June 23 in which a committed delegation from the Seychelles was present. Minister Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles Minister responsible for Tourism and Culture, said that he needed to thank the Organization International de La Francophonie (IOF) for co-organizing this meeting with and alongside the Seychelles.

“We note that in the framework of the Samoa Conference preparations, which is to be held from the 1st to the 4th of 2014, the International Organization of La Francophonie (IOF) is working to develop an initiative on sustainable tourism within the SIDS members. We are all very appreciative of this," the Seychelles Minister said.

This UN (United Nations) meeting in New York was the opportunity for the Republic of the Seychelles to highlight its achievements in the sustainable tourism framework. Minister Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles Minister for Tourism and Culture, said as he delivered his keynote address to the conference that Seychelles wanted to be seen and remembered as good custodians of what the islands had been blessed with. He reminded the ambassadors and country representatives present that everyone in Seychelles had today over 50% of their total land area declared protected zones as nature reserves, and he went on to say that Seychelles had appointed an ambassador to only work with other interested parties on the climate-change issue, he said that Seychelles had put into place the necessary approach to claim back its tourism industry in order to get there people more involved in their very own tourism that remains for Seychelles the pillar of their economy, because he said that without that approach of involving their people, Seychelles could never have a sustainable tourism that could be consolidated for the long term.

The Seychelles Minister also said that they had given their culture its rightful place in the tourism development of their country, and he went on to say that when Seychelles was speaking of culture, Seychelles was speaking of its people which they are putting at the center of their development. “No country has the right to be ashamed of their culture and of their people. It is the duty of the tourism authorities to showcase one`s culture and in so doing one`s people as real assets of their country," Minister St.Ange said.

The gathered ambassadors and country representatives present were also informed that Seychelles was continuing with the program of Wildlife Clubs in their schools to ensure that their younger generations were developing the interest for appreciating what the islands of the Seychelles had in order to protect these natural attractions and assets. The Minister said that Seychelles had also embarked on the training of their people to ensure that they could join their tourism industry workforce and that they were presently building a brand new tourism academy.

It was also emphasized at that meeting that the Seychelles were always extending their hand in the developing of partnerships in the region through the Vanilla Islands, and in Africa through the new African Union tourism initiative, and accessing the world through working as a committed partner at the UNWTO (UN World Tourism Organization). The Seychelles Minister ended his address by saying that Seychelles had launched their very own sustainable tourism brand, because they wanted to get their hotels who walk with them down the road of sustainable tourism to be seen and noticed.

Ambassador Marie-Louise Potter who had spoken before her Minister took the floor opened the Sustainable Tourism Meeting at the UN saying that she remained committed to working with other like-minded representatives, and Ambassador Ronny Jumeau was the one mandated to moderate the lively meeting that was full of comments and questions from the floor.

Minister St.Ange appealed to L`Organization de La Francophonie to get the SIDS group around a table for a meeting before the Samoa meeting and to help countries protect their cultural heritage by working with UNESCO to simplify the procedures for achieving UNESCO World Heritage sites status when countries had the desire to protect unique assets they had for prosperity. The Minister also appealed for a sustainable tourism brand to be agreed on in order to increase the visibility of tourism establishments who were joining their respective country`s programs to go down the path of promoting sustainable tourism.

When he replied to questions from the floor, Minister Alain St.Ange said that the Seychelles had been successful in developing its tourism industry, because they had embraced the three key words that remained so essential for any tourism destination. “The three words that will always ensure a tourism destination remains relevant are 1. visibility, 2. Visibility, and 3. Visibility," the Seychelles Minister said. He went on to say that this was why Seychelles had entered the world of carnivals with their annual Carnaval International de Victoria in April which gave visibility to their co-host partners and to every participating country. The Minister emphasized that the carnival in Seychelles appeared on the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands calendar of events alongside the International Tourism Fair of Madagascar in May, the Culinary&Cultural Festival of Comoros in August, and the Festival Liberte Metisse (marking the abolition of slavery) of La Reunion in December.

Minister Alain St.Ange also said as he met the press after the United Nations meeting that he was happy to have flown to New York especially for this meeting. “We are here because we are putting our money where our mouth is. We believe in sustainable tourism, and we stand to be counted with all those who are like us, serious and committed partners of this change of mindset," the Seychelles Minister said.

PHOTO: Minister Alain St.Ange of the Seychelles outside the United Nations (UN) building in New York


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