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Culture as a factor for tourism development and bringing people together - Minister St.Ange presents Seychelles as an example

Culture as a factor for tourism development and bringing people together - Minister St.Ange presents Seychelles as an example ( The Atlantic Initiative for Tourism 2015 Conference organized jointly by the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the Kingdom of Morocco showed beyond any doubt that tourism as an industry needs to be revisited and its base analyzed to ensure it remains relevant.

A few years ago everyone took it for granted that tourism would keep sailing on just by showcasing one's unique selling points through glossy brochures at tourism trade fairs. Then the challenges of air access took over as key concerns for every country tourism board of marketing authorities. The loss of direct nonstop flights to key tourism destinations especially in the southern hemisphere where airline hubs of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Doha became the funnel from where distribution of tourists were organized. This has affected many tourism destinations, and today a fight back is taking place with tourism destinations working to entice airline companies to once again operate nonstop direct flights to their respective country. This topic was raised as part of the Atlantic Initiative for Tourism 2015 Conference in Rabat in Morocco this week, and it was raised that air access remains the most critical factor for success or failure of tourism as an industry.

Culture was also discussed as a factor for tourism development and for bringing people together. One country who shared their experiences was the mid-ocean islands of the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean. Minister Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles Minister responsible for Tourism and Culture, was jointly invited by Mr. Taleb Rifai, the Secretary General of the UNWTO, and Minister Lahcen Haddad, the Minister for Tourism of Morocco, to contribute in analyzing this topic based on the point of view of the Seychelles and of his own experience.

Seychelles moved to place culture at the base of their tourism industry some five years ago when President James Michel of the Seychelles was himself holding the tourism portfolio of the islands. President Michel then moved to amalgamate the departments of tourism and that of culture into one government ministry called the Ministry of Tourism and Culture. Today this same point has been the center to many world conferences with the UNWTO and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) jointly calling for a joint conference last February in Cambodia to discuss tourism through culture. That was the first ever of such a meeting that was pushing for protecting culture through tourism and for consolidating tourism using culture.

In Rabat in Morocco, Minister Alain St.Ange of the Seychelles said that tourism is for the Seychelles the engine for economic and social growth and that Seychelles appreciated that the origin of tourism is in fact cultural. He supported the point of view echoed by Mr. Taleb Rifai, the Secretary General of the UNWTO, which stated that three key points facing the world of tourism are: connectivity, a link between tourism and culture, and the look and relook at the development of sustainable tourism as a development goal.

The Seychelles case was discussed in detail, and the island's Minister explained in great detail the call made by the Seychelles President for the islands to claim back their tourism industry. Minister St.Ange said that this statement was an invitation for the people of Seychelles to embrace tourism as the industry for each and every Seychellois. This was followed by the call to placer tourism at the center of tourism development of the islands and in so doing it was in fact the placing of the people of Seychelles at the center of the development of these mid-ocean islands.

Minister St.Ange went on to explain that through culture, the island's tourism development entered a phase of grassroots involvement and is now culminating in a District Cultural Award for Communities working to showcase cultural assets for tourism development. “Many even in Seychelles will still not see that through culture we are building peace and that an event like the annual Carnaval International de Victoria is celebrating our differences and diversity as we unite behind a cultural event that attracts press from across the world that keep Seychelles visible and relevant in the world of tourism," said Minister St.Ange.

PHOTO: Hon. Minister Alain St.Ange


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