Kasia Yoko of The Bugle Regional Lifestyle Magazine of South Africa was recently in Seychelles for the 6th edition of the islands’ Carnaval International de Victoria. Kasia wrote: It’s hard to imagine the sheer raw beauty of the islands of Seychelles. Its people, its landscapes and the fauna and flora are like nothing we have seen on our extensive travels. Once again, Alain St Ange, Minister of Tourism for Seychelles, invited The Bugle to Seychelles. We represented South Africa as one of just 125 journalists from all over the world, and once again the island welcomed us with open arms, showing us marvels that we would like to share with you, our readers.
This year we arrived to witness the most spectacular annual event, Carnaval International de Victoria, and what we saw was nothing short of splendor!
With this, our Part 1 of the Seychelles adventure, we would like to pay tribute to the Honorable Minister of Tourism for Seychelles, Mr. Alain St Ange. We have had the great pleasure of spending time with him on a number of occasions, and he is a totally cool guy, with a totally awesome vision for the future of tourism of Seychelles.
One thing the minister said right at the onset of our press tour was, “We have invited the journalists to Seychelles, because we want you to see our islands – look around you, we have nothing to hide.” We marveled at his words, and as the days passed and we “whistle stop” visited the islands that surround the majestic Capital island of Mahe, we understood his mandate. “Go and visit our islands, and then go back to your countries and tell your readers what you have seen.”
And this is exactly what we are planning to do. We will share our stories and show you places and beaches that excel anything we have ever seen, with the exception of maybe Maldives and Mauritius.
I would like to start this week’s post with the Minister’s speech.
“Carnaval Time in Seychelles has arrived,” said Minister Alain St Ange. “Six years ago, we launched an event to unite the world of culture through a carnival. This event, staged under the banner of the melting pot of cultures, has fast become known by the press fraternity as the Carnival of Carnivals. Our success as a country is thanks firstly to the people of Seychelles who come out in large numbers to celebrate Carnival time in Seychelles. Thank you Seychelles.
“Thank you also to the team at the Tourism Board who are duly assisted by staff at the Culture and Tourism Departments and the National Arts Council. We know that they are often in the firing line, because they are doing something for Seychelles and for the people of Seychelles. Yes, they work hard, and yes, they continue to deliver for Seychelles, and they even sacrifice a lot to make it all happen and in so doing they keep the industry that is the pillar of our economy moving from strength to strength. We have also been successful because of the support we have received from our co-hosts, and today with us, it is once again, Reunion Island, the Switzerland of the Indian Ocean, because of its incredible mountains, represented here by Aboubacar Ben Vitry Faouzia, the Conseillere regionale; and Lee Mow Sim Lynda of the IRT; and South Africa, the Rainbow Nation represented here by their Tourism Minister, Derek Hanekom. Our co-hosts, like us, believe in their people and are proud enough of their culture to help stage an event that will showcase their people alongside the best from the world of carnivals.
“No less than 23 delegations have flown to Seychelles for this year’s carnival. To you all I say, you are once again proudly flying your flag, you from the Community of Nations are flying your flag at an event now referred to as the United Nations Gathering of Culture. Like us, you know and appreciate that showcasing one’s culture is putting people at the forefront, because we cannot have culture without our people. We as a country hope that the delegations here today can appreciate our culture, just as we are transfixed again and again, year after year, by yours.
“You have all realized that through your culture you will find your soul, and through culture, you will consolidate your respective tourism industries. You all know that through this carnival in Seychelles, you can get more visibility for your country than at any tourism trade fair we all religiously attend and at which we fight to get an interview with the press. We all know that the success of our respective tourism industries is dependent on how visible we are, because it is visibility that keeps us relevant in the highly-competitive world of tourism.
“Here in Seychelles, year after year, some 125 members of the press from the four corners of the world join this event they have named the United Nations Gathering of Culture. Here, the press sees a diversity of culture at one event, and here, the press sees proud nations showcasing their people through their culture, as they place their culture and people at the center of their marketing instead of using promotional brochures. Let me say a big thank you to the press gathered here. We value your presence; thank you for being here with us.
“Today, seven of the top carnivals of the world are in Seychelles for this year’s edition of our carnival. Notting Hill Carnival from the UK, the Brazil Carnival, the Carnival from Indonesia, the Dusseldorf Carnival from Germany, the Carnival from Italy are all back again, and this year they are joined by the Carnival from France and the Cologne Carnival from Germany. This is the only carnival where you can all parade together. Again we say that we appreciate your presence.
“Today, we re-confirm that we have dedicated this 2016 edition of our carnival to unity. We know that the safety label of tourism destinations is their key USP, their unique selling point, and one that would-be tourists look out for. Recent events in the world have pushed even the United Nations World Tourism Organization to meet to discuss tourism and security following the spate of bombs in Paris, Kenya, and Tunisia, and even more recently in Belgium amongst many other targets. Tourism ministers said we could no longer be bystanders in this crisis that affects their industry and the economies of their respective countries. Unity, peace, and security are music to our ears, and we must all work at it to ensure we safeguard it. Here, you are safe and will be safe because we, Seychelles, are proud to say we are friends of all and enemies of none, and here in Seychelles immaterial of your political affiliation, immaterial of the color of your skin, or immaterial of your religious belief, you are welcome and you can all stand side by side, walk side by side, and shake hands with each other, because we are all part of the children of this world – our world.
“But as we talk of unity at this edition of our carnival, we need to also take a look at us, the people of Seychelles, as we have just come out of a presidential election. We have but one Seychelles, and we are but one people, and at this cultural event, we are all standing together tonight, and will stand together tomorrow and throughout the day of Sunday crammed along the streets of Victoria, and we shall all realize that political affiliation is not a ticket to divide us as a people. It is definitely not a mandate to breed discord. This appeal to unite as one people is a reflection of what we see in our passports when we travel. Our nationality is recorded as Seychellois and not red, green, blue, yellow, etc. We are, and we remain, one people in our Seychelles as we enjoy this carnival spreading the theme of unity here in Seychelles and in the world at large.
“For Seychelles and for our population as a whole, we are today hosts of an event bringing the world to our shores. We have more press personalities here than we have ever welcomed before, and the success of this show in Victoria is dependent on all of us. This cultural manifestation is the largest single event we stage, and one that makes our country proud.”
Seychelles is a founding member of the International Coalition of Tourism Partners (ICTP) . For more information on Seychelles Minister of Tourism and Culture Alain St.Ange, click here.