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"A strong regional integration system: Air and land connectivity & travel facilitation" was the topic that brought Minister Alain St.Ange of the Seychelles to the podium to address the UNWTO Haiti Conference

"A strong regional integration system: Air and land connectivity & travel facilitation" was the topic that brought Minister Alain St.Ange of the Seychelles to the podium to address the UNWTO Haiti Conference ( Minister Alain St.Ange of the Seychelles, who is in Port-au-Prince in Haiti for the UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organization) on the question of Multidestination Opportunities for Regional Integration, took to the podium on Wednesday, May 20, to address the burning question of “A strong regional integration system: Air and land connectivity&travel facilitation." This point is as much a topic that concerns the Caribbean islands as it does the Indian Ocean Vanilla islands where the Seychelles Minister comes from. As he greeted everyone from the podium, Minister Alain St.Ange took the liberty to say a few words in Seychellois Creole and thanked Haiti for being like Seychelles - proud of its Creole culture.

The Seychelles Minister started off his address by saying that every country present at the Haiti Conference was present, because they were all united as nations of the world wanting to see the tourism industry work. “We are united as nations for our interest in tourism as an industry. This is why we are also all members of the United Nations World Tourism Organization. We are all united as nations, and we all stand firm as members of the United Nations World Tourism Organization" the Seychelles Minister said.

Minister Alain St.Ange then went on to analyze the discussions made in the previous day's discussion panels saying that these were dominated by the private sector trade and that today's discussions and addresses would see public officials as ministers take to the podium. “In Seychelles, our Tourism Board, the marketing arm of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, is controlled by a Board of Directors that is private-sector driven with a ration of four private sector representatives and with only three public sector appointments. We have done this because it is the private sector trade that remains in the front line of our industry. They suffer first the effects of a drop in tourism numbers, and it is always, therefore, important to let them, to not only be part of the process but to be instead guiding the process," the Minister said.

The Seychelles delegate then turned his attention to Haiti and the Caribbean states. “For me this is the first time I have come to Haiti. I see the situation on the ground with a fresh eye. The Caribbean like the Indian Ocean Vanilla islands that need tourism as an industry, but for tourism to work, we all need a reliable and we all need an adequate air access, and we need to work together, you in the Caribbean as members of CTO, and we in the Indian Ocean as members of the Vanilla Islands. It is clear that no island can today be an island unto itself. This era is gone. This is why some two years ago Taleb Rifai of the UNWTO was hosting a tourism meeting in Reunion, and at that meeting the concept of togetherness was table and emphasized. Today, you are all sitting and talking visa regulations and uni visas. Though Seychelles applies a No Visa policy which means that everyone is welcomed, we have been entertaining this same discussion in the Vanilla Islands as we have been hearing that as well on the Africa continent. I can confirm that the time has arrived for you to grab the bull by the horns and work on bilaterally, as for instance with the Dominican Republic next door to Haiti is today receiving over 5 million tourists, what stops Haiti following what has been done in Reunion Island where their Chinese visitors that have entered Seychelles or Mauritius before flying to Reunion does not require a visa even though in their mainland France they still so require. This was but a derogation, but one where a loss of revenue for the cost of a visa is incurred, but the economy of the island as a whole benefits. Haiti it is clear has the political will to move tourism forward, with this political will move to do the same thing and exempt visas for visitors arriving from one country or from a series of countries and boost immediately your own tourism industry. Haiti could effectively piggy back on the Dominican Republic," Minister St.Ange said.

Jokingly the Seychelles Minister then went on to say that he is not a prophet, but with a name like Saint Ange he could venture to make some suggestions. “The time for political will is now," the Seychelles Minister St.Ange said as he elaborated on a series of measures that could be developed and these included airline hubs among others.

Minister Alain St.Ange then went on to address the subject of cruise tourism and the concept of multi-island destinations before addressing the new drive by Seychelles to move from just selling their islands as a sun, sea, and sand holiday destination. “We know that we have some of the best for a sun, sea, and sand holiday, but we have decided to follow the expectations of the discerning travelers of today and have placed our culture and in so doing our people at the center of our tourism development.

PHOTO: Minister Alain St.Ange of the Seychelles addressing the UNWTO Haiti Conference


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