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Seychelles Founding President: About our new minister of tourism

Seychelles Founding President: About our new minister of tourism

So, it is now public knowledge that Alain St. Ange has resigned as Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation and Port Marine and that President Faure is now submitting the name of Mr. Maurice Loustau-Lalanne to the National Assembly for his appointment as the new Minister of Tourism.   This is a position for which Mr. Loustau-Lalanne is highly qualified bringing with him a range of experience in most aspects of the international travel trade, most suitably during his tenure as the country’s Principal Secretary for the Ministry of Tourism and Transport from 1988-1998.   In addition, he has had prior postings as the Director General of Civil Aviation (1981-1986) and the Executive Chairman of Air Seychelles (1985-1988).

Mr. Loustau-Lalanne has a unique understanding of the important role of Seychelles natural environment in the context of tourism having been the Chairman of the Seychelles Island Foundation which oversees Seychelles two UNESCO World Heritage sites of Aldabra and the Vallee de Mai. When appointed as a member of the Seychelles Tourism Board in 2005, Mr. Loustau-Lalanne said that the Board will continue in its attempt to facilitate stronger private-public partnership in Seychelles while promoting the entire range of Seychelles accommodation products – from the quaint guest-houses to the luxurious 5-star resort – in a way that reflects the true identity of the islands and Seychellois culture.

I have therefore welcomed the news that the National Assembly this morning has unanimously approved President Faure’s nomination.   I would also have voted wholeheartedly in support of this nomination because in my opinion Mr. Maurice Loustau-Lalanne is a man of principle who has proved he can deliver.

As for the departing Minister St. Ange, who had once been an active member of the Seychelles National Party (SNP), which was in Opposition to President Michel, the latter having taken note of his public relation talents offered him the opportunity to prove himself as the head of the Tourism Authority.  St. Ange who for some years been the Managing Director of Denis Island could not resist the opportunity of becoming the Chief Executive Officer of Seychelles Tourism Board when President Michel offered him the post.  He became so successful in that position that he was appointed Minister of Tourism to which later was added the portfolio of Culture.  St. Ange started marketing the country from being only a sun, sea and sand destination to an even based tourism spot where culture takes an important place in marketing destination.

His special achievements have been the success of organizing annual events like Carnaval International de Victoria and Kreol Festival.  Recognizing the potential of the Seychellois living overseas in promoting their native land with pride and conviction, he started engaging the diaspora as Tourism Ambassador within the foreign cities they happen to be residing.   They developed the slogan “If you cannot take the Seychellois out of Seychelles, you also cannot take Seychelles out of Seychellois.”

I personally felt flattered that whenever I met him to congratulate him on some of his initiatives and achievements he would immediately respond “Sir James, I am only taking a few pages out of your book.”  St. Ange never forgot that I was the person who opened up international tourism in Seychelles when I made history by disembarking from the first wide-bodied plane that landed here in Seychelles – a British Airways VC10 in 1971 and historically became the first Minister of Tourism in the country.

Now, Mr. St. Ange’s explanation for his prompt resignation is that he is making a bid for a position in an international organization. In this case I think we are all assuming that he is aiming to become the Secretary General of the World Tourism Organization which is the United Nations Agency responsible for the promotion of sustainable and universally accessible tourism.  It is the leading international organization in the field of Tourism which promotes tourism as a driver of economic growth inclusive development and environmental sustainability and offers leadership and support to the sector in advancing knowledge and tourism policy worldwide.

It encourages the implementation of the global code of ethics for tourism to maximize the contribution of tourism to socio-economic development while minimizing its possible negative impacts and is committed to promoting tourism as an instrument on achieving the United Nation millennium development goals geared towards reducing poverty and fostering sustainable development.

The World Tourism Organization was founded in 1975 with headquarters in Madrid.

Now, what are the chances of Minister St. Ange getting this high important international position in today’s competitive environment?

I would rate it as good if not very good. Why? To the best of my information, knowledge and belief Mr. St.Ange has over the years developed a close and friendly relationship with Mr. Geoffrey Lipman who has over recent time been special advisor to the Jordanian Secretary General of the World Tourism Organization Mr. Taleb Rifai who has held the post since being elected in 2010.

Geoffrey Lipman was the first President of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) to global business forum.  Between 1990 – 1999 he shaped his agenda and positioned travel and tourism as the world’s largest industry as well as its Millennium Vision for open markets, elimination of barriers and sustainable development.

Geoffrey Lipman spent 20 years with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) where he was Chief of Staff and Head of Government Affairs, later as Executive Director of IFAPA, the foundation representing passengers and as partner in a Global Aviation Associates, a strategic airline consultancy specializing in government relations and competition matters.

Mr. St. Ange would certainly be a strong and important candidate if he was to be nominated by or get his nomination seconded by Mr. Lipman who is an influential international tourism leader.

Alain St. Ange delivers his speeches fluent in both French and English. He could also get the support of the world of La francophonie thus the support of France.  As a pioneer of the Vanilla Tourism Island initiative he created a very warm and friendly relation with Monsieur Didier Robert, President of the Regional Council of Reunion, which is a French territory.  If St. Ange nomination could attract France support this could be of paramount importance to him.

One should not also overlook the role which eTurboNews, an important news wire based in Hawaii and particularly focused on tourism, has played in promoting Seychelles tourism development under Minister St. Ange. In fact, St. Ange has cultivated a very friendly collaboration with Mr. Juergen Steinmetz, president and founder of eTurboNews, over recent years.

With such type of support, Mr. St. Ange certainly stands in an excellent position to be nominated and elected as the next Secretary General of WTO.  In the spirit that Seychelles should reflect the sentiments of a small country, with a small population, which thinks big I personally have no hesitation, at this time, to sponsor Mr. St. Ange’s candidature for the position.

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