Seychelles partners with OIF for sustainable tourism initiatives at New York meeting
Fregate island, Seychelles. The island's resort is an example of high-end eco tourism villas (Gerard Larose, Seychelles Tourism Board)
Seychelles has once again stepped up to the forefront of initiatives geared at pushing forward the agenda of small island nations, ahead of the ‘Third International Conference on small Island States’ to be held in Samoa in September.
This week, the Indian Ocean archipelago teamed up with the world body for French-speaking nations ‘L’Organisation international de la Francophonie’ (OIF- in English the International Organisation of La Francophonie) at the United Nations in New York to highlight climate change impacts and sustainable development issues which are affecting Small Islands Developing States (SIDS).
OIF is actively working on developing a sustainable tourism initiative within SIDS members ahead of the conference.
The Seychelles Minister for Tourism and Culture, Alain St Ange who was leading the Indian Ocean archipelago’s delegation at the meeting on Monday, called on OIF to work with UNESCO to simplify the procedures for achieving UNESCO World Heritage Sites Status, this he said will help countries to protect their heritage sites.
He also called for the SIDS to come together and discuss issues related to sustainable development before the Samoa conference.
Seychelles permanent representative at the UN, Ambassador Marie Louise Potter (first left) followed by the island’s Ambassador for Climate Change and Small Island Developing States Ronny Jumeau were part of the Seychelles delegation led by the Tourism Minister Alain St Ange (middle)- (Seychelles Ministry of Tourism and Culture) Photo license: CC-BY
He noted that already, half of the Seychelles’ land territory is protected under law as nature reserves as well as putting emphasis on how everyone in the country; from the school children, the general public, especially those working in the tourism industry, are aware of the need to develop a sustainable approach to the tourism trade.
According to a press statement from the Seychelles Ministry of Tourism and Culture, the UN meeting was also an opportunity for St Ange to highlight what Seychelles has been able to achieve in its quest to develop a sustainable tourism approach.
"We are continuing with the program of Wildlife Clubs in our schools to ensure our younger generations are developing the interest in appreciating what we have in order to protect what we have, we are training our people to join our tourism workforce through the building of a brand new tourism academy and last but not least we are extending our hand for the developing of partnerships in the region through the Vanilla islands and in Africa through the new African Union tourism initiative, we have launched our very own Sustainable Tourism Brand because we want to get our hotels who walk with us down this road to be seen and noticed," said St Ange.
In a press interview after the meeting St Ange said: "We are here because we are putting our money where our mouth is. We believe in Sustainable Tourism and we stand to be counted with all those who are like us serious and committed partners of this change of mindset."
Tourism is very important to the Seychelles, being the first pillar of the islands’ economy.
Last year a record number of 230,272 tourists visited Seychelles compared to 208,034 in 2012.
Europe remains the main market for visitors to the islands, although it has slightly declined since the beginning of this year, the archipelago has seen a boom in Asian visitors to its shores thanks to increased efforts by the tourism authorities to diversify its tourism markets.