Recently, the Seychelles Minister of Tourism and Culture, Alain St.Ange, sat down for an interview with PATA Conversation. He talked about how conservation, legacy, and security are three driving forces behind tourism development on the Seychelles islands.
HE Alain St.Ange, Minister of Tourism and Culture, Government of Seychelles, explained how his deep connection to the archipelago has helped shaped policies of today. “We are connected to our islands by an invisible rubber band,” the Minister said.
Q. PATA Conversation: Can you tell us about your background that prepared you for your role today? Alain St.Ange: My professional background was in hotel management and my family owned a hotel on La Digue, so this was the perfect launching pad for a further career in tourism. Being involved in Seychelles tourism since its beginnings has given me wonderful experiences, and also a sense of perspective.
Q: At what point in your youth did you realize that you want to devote your career to the tourism industry? St.Ange: I think from very early on, seeing the nascent tourism industry in Seychelles taking shape and very much wanting to be a part of that.
Q: Having traveled abroad for your hospitality studies, was your intention always to come back home in some capacity? St.Ange: I think we islanders are connected to our islands by an invisible rubber band and wherever we go, we always tend to find our way back to our beloved homeland.
Q: What are some innovative strategies that have helped develop awareness and tourism growth in the Seychelles? St.Ange: To my mind, it is always about visibility because the market place today is very crowded and one needs to be seen and heard. I believe this is a strength I have, working with people, and acting as an ambassador for our islands. It is well known that I work well with the press and this has helped us a great deal. Also, placing culture at the center of our tourism and creating and marketing events that enable visitors to enjoy that culture.
Q: What are some strategies to ensure sustainable growth while still preserving what makes these islands so special? St.Ange: Our conservation credentials are very strong and 50 percent of our limited land mass has been set aside as nature reserves and marine parks. This speaks for itself. We also have a Sustainable Tourism Label that we use to encourage businesses to adopt best practice and think of tomorrow. We are aware that our beauty is fragile and our policies will continue— to target a healthy balance between development and conservation.
Q: What are your biggest concerns about the future of tourism in the Seychelles? St.Ange: I believe that security will come to be the buzzword in international tourism, if it has not already become so. Security will increasingly define our industry and our world and how we face that challenge at the macro and micro level will determine everything.
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.