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Mauritius Parliament discuss tourism in the Vanilla islands


A Mauritius Parliament extract brings the seen importance of the Vanilla islands for the Indian Ocean Region. Last week the Mauritius Parliament discussed the Vanilla Islands concept as was published in Hansard, 1 April 2014. This discussion comes but weeks ahead of the need for the Member Islands of this Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands Organisation to choose their next President. The mandate of Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles Minister for Tourism and Culture who has served two mandates is coming to its end and his replacement is expected to be announced at the next Ministerial Meeting of the Vanilla Islands to be held in the Seychelles on the 23rd April.

This is the day before the Carnaval International de Victoria, the Seychelles Event falling in the Vanilla Islands calendar of events and the hand over of responsibilities will be in in the Madagascar Tourism Trade Fair in May, the Madagascar Event falling in the calendar of events. This is showing clearly that the islands grouping had achieved to put in place a degree of organisation, and this ever since Pascal Viroleau of La Reunion was appointed CEO of the Vanilla Islands.

Today it is accepted that the name Vanilla Islands is known in the four corners of the world as the new tourism region of the world. It is also accepted that this is credit to the non stop work by Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles Minister for Tourism and Culture who has been holding the office as the first President of the Vanilla Islands. The mandate of Minister St.Ange as President of the Vanilla Islands was renewed at the Ministerial meeting of the Vanilla islands held in Madagascar and today many observers are waiting to see who will be replacing Minister St.Ange as the head of the Organisation and to be updated on the plan of action of the new President.

With Minister St.Ange of the Seychelles as President of the Organisation the world was reminded of the Vanilla Islands at every tourism or airline conference. Some islands more than others have been overtly supportive of not only the concept of the Vanilla islands, but have been present at Ministerial level (or at President of the Regional Council level in the case of La Reunion) at events listed on the organisation’s calendar of events.

It was therefore interesting to read the minutes of deliberations in the Mauritius Parliament on the concept of the Vanilla Islands.

Extract from the Mauritius Parliament:-

(No. B/75) Ms S. Anquetil (Fourth Member for Vacoas & Floreal) asked the Minister of Tourism and Leisure whether, in regard to the Iles Vanilles concept, he will state if the implementation thereof has been beneficial since 2011 and, if so, give details thereof and, if not, why not.

Mr Yeung Sik Yuen: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I wish to inform the House that it is only in July 2012 that a structure has been put in place to steer the “Iles Vanilles” concept. For all intents and purposes, the project is still at development stage.

Also, it would be pertinent for me to highlight that the “Iles Vanilles” concept represents a framework of cooperation among the tourist destinations of the region. In the same spirit, I am informed that the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority has, in collaboration with the Vanilla Islands, involving inter alia Madagascar, Seychelles and Reunion, undertaken several joint actions in major fairs in source markets such as the ITB in Germany, Top Resa in France, Indaba in South Africa and the World Travel Market in UK with a view to generating exposure on and promoting the tourism product of the region.

From this perspective, the complementary of our product offer along with those of the other destinations of the region has enhanced the product portfolio of Mauritius.

Also, the “Iles Vanilles” concept has afforded an opportunity to market the destination as part of twin and multi-destination packages to tourists on the look-out of such products.

Moreover, the inter-island tourism will help to develop the cruise segment from Mauritius.

Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, there is no doubt that benefits will be reaped under the “Iles Vanilles” concept, in time to come.

The Deputy Speaker: Hon. Leader of the Opposition!

Mr Bérenger: I think I heard the hon. Minister saying that this Iles Vanilles Concept Project is at an experimental stage. I think it is the word used. That is, at an early stage. But is it not a fact – and I understand that even Cabinet has not been informed – that this Iles Vanilles organisation is now a registered organisation? It has office bearers. It has a Chair, which is Seychelles for the second year running. Mauritius and others are paying membership fees. We have ministerial meetings of that registered organisation. Ministerial meeting – the last one Mauritius was absent; all the other Ministers were present. This organisation which is registered by now has even sought membership of the World Tourism Organisation and is obtaining financial help from the European Union. Is that not the case? We have evidence of that.

Mr Yeung Sik Yuen: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, as I said, the project is still at development stage. In fact, the Vanilla Islands Project did not have any funds to finance its structure. It is only in last December that the organisation has got funds and they have got funds from Fonds de Développement Économique Régional (FEDER) and Région Réunion to the tune of almost €500,000.

Mr Bérenger: Is the Minister saying that there is no registered organisation under that name with ministerial meetings, as I said, officially registered and receiving contribution as a registered organisation? Is the Minister saying that my information is wrong?

Mr Yeung Sik Yuen: In fact, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, there was no fund to run the structure. It is only in December 2013 that this organisation has good fund, but during all this time, we were doing joint advertising campaign in many countries such as Du Presa, ITB and so on. His information is wrong.

The Deputy Speaker: Hon. Ms Anquetil!

Ms Anquetil: Merci, M. le président. Tous les articles dans les journaux et magazines parlent du concept Iles Vanilles comme étant à la dérive, comme étant un concept au détriment de Maurice. Selon le rapport de la Cour des Comptes Françaises, le concept Iles Vanilles qui a nécessité des investissements colossaux ne bénéficie, il semblerait, qu’aux Seychelles. Est-ce que le ministre peut indiquer à la Chambre si ce concept qui est en place depuis qu’il a été lancé officiellement en 2011, est-ce que ce concept a redynamisé le secteur du tourisme mauricien en fonction à la demande internationale ?

Mr Yeung Sik Yuen: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, first of all, many of the presses around these islands are saying that other islands are benefiting from this project. You are saying Seychelles; in Reunion Island, they are saying that Mauritius is benefiting from this concept, but, as I have said, it is too early to do this assessment. It needs time. As I have said, it is only in last December that we have got fund to run the structure. So, give it some time!

Source: eTN Global Travel Industry News

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