The Routes Africa 2012 forum in the Seychelles will bring airlines, civil aviation authorities, and tourism boards together to see how the challenges facing the world of aviation and tourism can best be tackled. “The world economics is changing fast, the aviation climate has changed, and it is so important for everyone to meet and discuss the situation on hand instead of throwing in the towel. Cooperation and the spirit of working together is today more important than ever before,” Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles Minister responsible for Tourism and Culture said.
Dr. Wolfgang H. Thome, the known Uganda journalist, was among the first in Africa to bring this important forum to the attention of African airlines, civil aviation authorities, and tourism boards. Dr. Thome wrote in his personal column, “The seventh Routes Africa Conference was signed and sealed last week when the organizers and the government of Seychelles put pen to paper to formalize the announcement made a few weeks ago, when, in fact, the global media was present in Victoria to report about the Carnaval International de Victoria at the time the news was broken.
“The choice by the organizers was widely hailed as bringing the Routes Africa concept to this part of Africa for the first time, also underscoring the growing importance of the African Indian Ocean islands as a major part of aviation developments on the continent.
“Previous meetings took place in Casablanca, Cairo, Dakar, Marrakech, Swaziland, and Bamako, but never on any of the Indian Ocean islands, and the Seychelles is set to celebrate this conference as it also coincides with the 40th year of jet aviation for the archipelago.
“Airlines from Africa and those flying into Africa like the mega carriers of the Gulf Etihad, Qatar Airways, and Emirates, too, are expected to have their route development experts on site and with between 150 and 200 delegates thought to come to the Seychelles, the Routes Africa conference is surely going to be a success.
“Notably, this event comes at a time in Seychelles aviation history when more airlines than ever before are flying more often than ever before to Mahe, the latest entrant being Ethiopian Airlines, which is set to commence 4 weekly flights from Addis Ababa to Mahe in a week’s time. The momentous changes at Air Seychelles, too, have been a talking point for African aviation experts, with Etihad acquiring a 40 percent stake a few months ago, catapulting the Seychellois national airline into a sudden position of prominence, having been found worthy to be Etihad’s latest investment target, while other ailing Indian Ocean island carriers still wait and hope for a savior to come forward and throw them a similar lifeline, too.
“The choice for the Seychelles was largely a result of the now Minister of Tourism and Culture, Alain St. Ange, last year speaking at the international routes conference and both networking on behalf of the Seychelles but also making waves with his speech, and the Seychelles Tourist Board’s new Chief Executive Elsia Grandcourt then preparing the successful bid and seeing it come to fruition. Time for aviators to make a date with the Seychelles to be there between the 8th and 10th of July this year.”
It is important to appreciate that all airlines flying to Africa are all invited to this important aviation forum. Routes forums remain the gathering where countries and airlines talk to, look at, and to see the existing possibilities for the way forward.
Seychelles is hoping to work with the Routes organizers to add a new dimension to Routes Africa this year. Cruise ships bring to Africa more and more the possibilities for fly-cruise tourism, and this is dependent on good air access.
“Seychelles believes that the triangular approach to tourism (airline, civil aviation authority, and tourism board) can be further expanded to touch shipping as this remains a clear potential. This is why we are looking through Mr. Hans J. Niebergall, the President and CEO of SAARPSCO (South Asia and Africa Regional Port Stability Cooperative) to have major cruise ship companies and agents to also join in Routes Africa 2012 and open new avenues between Europe and the African Continent and its islands,” Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles Minister for Tourism and Culture said.
Seychelles is hoping that the COI (Indian Ocean Commission Islands or Vanilla Islands) will see that Routes Africa 2012 in Seychelles is their chance to showcase their regional needs. The same is for East Africa Community and SADC through RETOSA.