If you were to hear the following words: “Cool!” “Awesome!” “Cute!” “This is yummy!” where do you think you might be? In a restaurant? Wrong! In a shop? No. At the beach? You are not too far from the truth, because this is the kind of scenery that Aliette Esther, Tourism Attaché of the Abu Dhabi Seychelles Tourism Board office, tried to create on Tuesday, March 15, 2016. Always eager to make their beloved islands known, both Erika Rangasamy, teacher at Bright Beginnings Nursery, Abu Dhabi, and Ms. Esther worked assiduously to make a success of this event.
Over 250 kids attended with, in a reversal of roles this time, parents in tow. A beach scene was created from scratch with the help of the ever-willing kids and creative teachers, like Ms. Lilas Salaheddine – sandy beach with the whole apparel of beach chairs and sun umbrellas, realistic-looking coconut trees, which bore big juicy coconuts overnight, sprung from the beachfront. Colorful fish, hanging in the fishing net, were a promise of a healthy and scrumptious lunch later on.
To cap it all, posters depicting the different activities and sceneries of the Seychelles were erected all over the area, something which didn’t fail to catch the attention of big and small. The children oohed and aahed in front of the pictures of the tortoises and other sea creatures in the deep turquoise blue sea, debated as to what was a tortoise and a turtle, discussed why it was that you could hear the sound of the sea in a shell, and giggled at the suggestive shape of the coco-de-mer (kids know more than we think!). They also plunged with wholehearted eagerness into the local pastries that some other Seychellois residents (Rose Zepherine, Dean Camille, and Vivianne Esparon) had made – patés, samosas, chili cakes, fish cakes, nougat, mango salad, and fresh fruit salad. Fresh coconut water and passionfruit juice were also available for thirsty little mouths.
What was this event, you must be asking? Well, it was International Cultural Day organized by the management of Bright Beginnings Nursery in Abu Dhabi. This nursery, with a total of three branches, offers a multi-lingual program to kids of all nationalities such as British, French, Indian, Emirati, to name a few. A few other cultures were also on display alongside Seychelles. These were Canada, France, Australia, the UK, India, Palestine, Algeria, Syria, Lebanon, the Philippines, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, the UAE, and Pakistan. Over 315 give-away bags sporting the Seychelles Tourism Board official logo were given away. These contained small gifts and brochures about the destination.
“The event was fabulous,” Ms. Esther said. “The enthusiasm and wonder shown by the children and their parents, as well as the teachers, was worthwhile. This event showed that there’s no age to capture the interest of travelers in the culture of your country. Everyone who visited the Seychelles pavilion was extremely happy and impressed by the vast knowledge that both Erika and I had on our native country.”
With double daily flights from both hubs in the UAE (Abu Dhabi and Dubai) to the Seychelles, the islands are well-connected to the UAE. Another plus is that no visa is required for any nationality and that the flight lasts only 4 hours. These are undoubtedly some of the reasons for the 21,313 visitors to the Seychelles last year. This represents a 53 % increase over the previous year.
“We would like to thank the Managing Director of the nursery, Jo Shaban, and Director of the Al Mushrif branch, Joud Zuriekat, for inviting us to participate in this event,” Ms. Esther stated. “We will be happy to come back next year… if they will have us!”
Seychelles is a founding member of the International Coalition of Tourism Partners (ICTP) .