by Alain St.Ange, former Minister of Tourism, Republic of Seychelles & Presidential Candidate for October 24 Elections
As the world marks yet again Tourism Day it is important for us in Seychelles to say “Happy Tourism Day” to each and every one, but to also say let us all rally to defend, protect and help consolidate this industry that remains the powerful vehicle to not only stimulate the economic growth of our countries, but that also remains the motor for social growth in the world at large.
This was the message I issued some years back and it remains as relevant today as it did then. On the 27th September we will celebrate the World Tourism Day at a time when tourism as an industry has been grounded to a halt. COVID – 19 landed in Seychelles as it did round around the world and demolished the island’s tourism industry that had been consolidated over the years by the hard work of Tourism Industry players working alongside the Government in what has been referred to as the PPP.
Our islands became the flavour for the discerning travellers and is noticed around the world, and for such accomplishment we need to thank our tourism board, the private sector trade, our hotels, our DMCs and our airlines for promoting Seychelles as a tourist destination.
The Seychelles tourism industry remains the pillar of the island’s economy. We all want to see the Seychelles tourism bloom again and to do that we know we will work with our airlines partners, our faithful tour operators from the four corners of the world and above all be innovative and proactive.
We are today proud to say that we have protected what we have been blessed with – the lush green natural landscape of our islands, our white sandy beach and our turquoise blue seas. We can be seen as good custodians of what we have and we have gone the extra mile and have now declared over 50% of the total land area of Seychelles as protected national parks. But that is just not enough because we know that our tourism industry would be on shaky ground if we did not put our culture at the centre of our tourism industry and by doing that placing our people at the very centre of our development, because without people we have no culture. This is why on this World Tourism Day, as we all celebrate the milestones achieved in our industry, we need to say to ourselves that our people remain our greatest asset and we all need to continue to embrace them in their diversity.
May Tourism Day 2020 be for the great continent of Africa a time of reflection on the protection and preservation of our rich natural heritage and this inclusive of our people in its diversity in political affiliation, colour of the skin, religious beliefs and sexual preferences. May Tourism Day 2020 also be for the World at large a time for reflection where the ambitions of one does not step on the rights of others needing tourism as a source of economic survival.