The recent Seychelles government restructure has seen the country’s President, Mr. James Michel, take the tourism portfolio. This was seen as a clear sign that tourism remains the main pillar of the Seychelles economy, and the importance of that industry for Seychelles has been further highlighted by the fact that President Michel has personally taken over the tropical island’s tourism portfolio, a government department which previously attached to the vice president’s office. President James Michel has been personally instrumental in the setting up of the succesful public/private sector partnership now in place in Seychelles to manage the country’s tourism industry.
The new chairman of the Seychelles Tourism Board is ambassador Barry Faure, previously principal secretary at the ministry of foreign affairs, who was promoted in the latest government reshuffle to become the Secretary of State in the President’s Office. This in itself confirms the direct support being shown from the Seychelles Presidential Office for the island’s tourism industry.
The new CEO appointed to head the Seychelles Tourism Board, now falling directly under the office of the country’s President, is Alain St.Ange, the former Seychelles director of tourism marketing, the man who is credited to have turned the Seychelles tourism industry around. The Seychelles tourism performance with record tourist arrival numbers in 2010, has been attributed to the success of the new tourism policy of the country, which is based on “public-private” partnerships and the strategy of diversification of the island nation’s source market, according to a recent report by the Chinese Xinhua News agency, as they baptized Alain St.Ange, now CEO of Seychelles Tourism, as a “tourism guru.” The South African press personality, Tony Vaughan, on his part recently wrote about a discussion he had with Alain St.Ange as a person he describes as being magnetic and enigmatic. Tony Vauhgan wrote: “Close your eyes and you hear Obama; yes you can – albeit with a French accent!”
Here in the Seychelles they are defying the trend – visitor numbers are up year-on-year by 12 percent. It must be the only destination in the world rerporting such growth in this economic climate. Quite simply it has transitioned from a government-led sector to a privatly-led sector, fully backed by government, which has let go of the reins and allowed the private sector to take control of what is in their best interests, and it’s working.
The country has also launched the “Affordable Seychelles campaign to move the perception away from the idea that we only exist for the rich and famous,” to quote Alain St.Ange. The French press, refers to St.Ange as “l homme fort du tourisme seychellois” and recently featured Alain St.Ange on the front cover of the “Sub Yu” monthly magazine when they looked at the island’s tourism industry in detail.
The new CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board, Alain St.Ange, is a hotelier by profession. He was brought in the government service just over a year ago to relaunch the country’s tourism industry, when the island nation was suffering from a downward trend in visitor arrival numbers following the economic recession that had taken hold in most of the main tourism markets for Seychelles. With the support of the country’s private sector, Alain St.Ange managed to get confidence back into the destination, and he went on through a series of press conferences all over Europe, Africa, the USA, and India to rebrand the Seychelles. He turned the then 18 percent drop in visitor arrival numbers to but a minus one by the close of 2009.
The Seychelles is performing well in 2010 with 14 percent increases in visitor arrival numbers, as at mid-June, according to the country’s Statistical Bureau. This success is attracting new airlines to look at the Seychelles as a stopover point or as a destination in itself. The country’s President Michel, who was in India recently, made mention of new bilateral talks between India and Seychelles on air access. This head-of-state visit follows one to China only weeks earlier when President James Michel, accompanied by Ambassador Barry Faure and Alain St.Ange in his delegation, brought up the question of air access and tourism in different high-level meetings including one with the Chinese President Hu Jintao.
Analysts close to the Seychelles economy confirms that the choice made by President James Michel, in appointing Alain St.Ange, has re-energized the country’s tourism industry. “They seem to work well together with mutual respect for each other,” a director from an auditing firm was heard saying to an investor. “Alain St.Ange has the flair, he has the energy, and above all, he has the same passion for tourism as did James Mancham, the former President of the country, when he launched tourism in the 1970s and positioned Seychelles on the tourism map of the world,” the auditor said.
Alain St.Ange is well known at eTurboNews, as he is the newswire ambassador for the Indian Ocean Area.