The Ministerial Roundtable Conference at the opening of the 19th Session of the UNWTO General Assembly held on October 10 in GyeongJu in Korea saw a series of Ministers and heads of delegations of Member States address the conference to highlight the happenings in their respective countries.
Alain St.Ange, CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board, took to the floor as the last speaker at the Ministerial Roundtable Conference, and he used the opportunity to showcase the importance of the Seychelles tourism industry for the island’s economy. He asked for Africa to rally to make the case for the international community to look at the Somali pirate issue as it was today affecting the African coast and the Indian Ocean shipping routes.
“Tourism is the engine for economic growth, it is said, but for Seychelles the tourism industry remains the pillar of our economy. It is so important that Mr. James Michel, the President of our republic, launched a new vision for our industry in a bid to re-launch it when our main tourist markets in Europe faced economic difficulties. Our new vision for tourism, called the Seychelles brand, wanted for the Seychellois to claim back their industry. This meant that the Seychelles government wanted to empower its citizens to be part and parcel of the industry that remains the pillar of our economy. The Seychelles government wanted to get the Seychellois people involved, and in so doing, to get the population behind its key industry.
“We do not have a tourism industry unless it is sustainable. This, we all appreciate, and for Seychelles this is a reality. This is why we recently launched our sustainable tourism program and label. This was another step forward in the right direction for us, but we feel it is opportune for us to request that the UNWTO looks to take the leadership role and bring out a worldwide sustainable tourism logo to be implemented side by side with those of member countries. This will increase brand recognition and make for a more dynamic push down the sustainable tourism drive.
“For activities such as retail, travel, and finance, confidence remains the essential ingredient for such activities to succeed. This, we were told only this morning by Anita Mendiratta of the CNN TASK Group when she addressed us on tourism communication. This, we are stating, because of the insecurity on the shipping routes of Africa and of the Indian Ocean because of the Somali pirates. This cannot be allowed to continue, which is why we are appealing that such regional challenges are taken up by Africa, and that Africa be mandated to table such challenges we are facing at every international forum where our leaders are represented.
“This also pushes us to call for the next UNWTO General Assembly to move to Africa and we, from the Seychelles, would like to echo our support for Zambia and Zimbabwe, our two Southern Africa countries from the RETOSA Tourism Body for the joint bid they made to host the 2013 General Assembly. Let us all get behind that Africa bid and bring UNWTO to Africa to put Africa in the limelight and showcase our challenges and our successes.”