Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles Minister responsible for Tourism and Culture drew a number of tourism trade press to discover how this Minister continues to keep the islands of the Seychelles visible, and to hear from the Minister how he sees 2015 for the island’s tourism industry. Alain St.Ange is currently convalescing following two back-to-back surgery, but he still accepted to meet the press as 2014 comes to a close saying he remains press friendly and he says that he credits the press for his continued success a Minister of Tourism.
St.Ange said that tourism as an industry remains very much a people’s industry, and the harder one works to harness the power of relationships to drive repeat business and referrals, the stronger the destination will fare in this competitive industry.
Alain St.Ange, a respected international speaker, author and a Government Minister attacks his never ending work as the head of tourism in the Seychelles with passion and with a sense of determination rarely seen in Governments. “I spend time building solid relationships because tourism is a people’s industry, and one’s success or failure often depends on your personal contacts and relationships which needs to be nurtured and followed up” said St.Ange.
Attendees, many of whom had enjoyed St.Ange’s other press briefings and conferences at tourism trade fairs, heard the Minister’s top tips covering online and offline networking, and how to make the most of opportunities to connect with people at tourism trade events. St.Ange explains: “Out of all tourism events, tourism trade fairs are the most fun and the most dynamic.
Tourism Boards lead delegations to tourism trade fairs and they invest time and resources in attending these tourism trade fairs, so it is important that every participating delegate makes the most of it. The importance of following up at tourism trade fairs, something few people enjoy doing, remains so important. For this to really work in one’s favour, it is important to develop the fun and friendly approach rather than the aggressive, hard sell. It is through developing the human contact that one earns the extra mile” St.Ange said.
The Seychelles case works said the island’s Minister. They have a Department of Tourism headed by a P.S. who is responsible for policy matters and administration and a Tourism Board headed by a CEO who is responsible for marketing of the islands. “But for an effective marketing strategy Seychelles needs to use every means available to their Tourism Board to increase their visibility.
But we need our product and this is Seychelles as a whole, to be what is expected of this sought after paradise island we say we are. For us Seychelles is our brand, and for us the same Seychelles is our product. So it is important that Seychelles lives up to its expectations. We need to live up to our safety label, to having pristine clear and clean white sandy beaches, to having turquoise blue seas that remain clear and clean with no sight of pollution what so ever, to have nature walks and trails that are well demarcated and that are safe, to be able to ensure that visitors are able to appreciate the island’s unique culture. This is to ensure that our visitors are able to appreciate the Seychelles Creole Cuisine and to enjoy the island’s music and dancing” said Minister St.Ange who went on to say that in Seychelles the people and in so doing their culture remain at the centre of the island’s tourism development.
“It is this Seychelles that the Tourism Board sells to the world as they criss cross the island’s tourism source markets. They have to travel the world if they are to promote the islands. Unfortunately many skeptics do not understand this simple necessity. If a fisherman wants to be selling fish on the village market they have to get into their boat and get to a fishing bank and start fishing. It is the same for the Tourism Board CEO. If she sits in her nice office instead of being in the tourism source markets, our islands will see its tourism industry crumble and crumble fast” the Seychelles Tourism Minister said.
Sherin Naiken, the CEO of the Tourism Board spends time forging new contacts and partners, and this is important for Seychelles because current partners are crucial and these current partners she is developing needs to be nurtured. But Sherin Naiken cannot nurture these new partners alone, she needs the private sector on board as she needs the airlines and the whole service industry.
“It is important to remember that over two thirds (67%) of a destination’s partners do not over push a destination as a good holiday option because they feel undervalued, and with 80% of business coming from 20% of the island’s partner base, regular contact with key business acquaintances is more crucial today than ever before” St.Ange said to the press.
St.Ange’s dynamic style clearly captured the attention of many, with a Hong Kong base tourism publication explaining: “I attended Minister St.Ange’s other sessions at tourism trade fairs in the UK and in Berlin this year and enjoyed them, so I made time in my schedule to participate in this video link today.”
An Australian tourism press personality agrees: “I agree with this island Minister. By taking a personal approach to destination marketing relationships is crucial. Doing something different, and incorporating this into your daily routine, is a great way to ensure your tourism partners and the press remember you.”
Minister Alain St.Ange of the Seychelles ended his briefing saying that the time is now for the Seychellois Nation as a whole to embrace the tourism industry. “Our country can declare on estimated budgets, but if tourism that remains the pillar of the economy is not working the estimates will remains just estimates. Today as an example the Tourism Board had planned to have a tourism office in La Reunion to support the weekly flights by Air Austral but after updated budget briefings by the CEO of the Tourism Board this proposition has had to be shelved, and this may result in this airline discontinuing its Seychelles service.
The plan to have a PR Office in Milan to help generate a bigger market share from North Italy is also being shelved for the same budgetary reason. The plans to beef up the e-Marketing and graphics design of the Tourism Board is also now shelved even though the country as a whole knows that these proposals would help consolidate the tourism industry of Seychelles. This is why i am saying that the Nation as a whole needs to embrace the island’s tourism industry. A stagnating tourism industry will have a domino effect that will touch every Seychellois and every business man or woman of the islands” Minister Alain St.Ange said.
In early December Minister Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles Minister responsible for Tourism and Culture met with his Ministry’s most senior Team Members which included Anne Lafortune, the PS for Tourism, Benjamine Rose, the PS for Culture, Sherin Naiken, the CEO of the Tourism Board, Flavien Joubert, the Principal of the Seychelles Tourism Academy, Jimmy Savy, the CEO of the National Arts Council, Patrick Nanty, the CEO of the Seychelles Heritage Foundation and Penda Choppy, the CEO of the International Creole Institute and they discussed the successes of their Ministry and the challenges they see affecting negatively their Ministry.
In mid January 2015 Minister Alain St.Ange said that the same team will meet again as it is time to reboot and re-look at our work as we try to bring Seychelles as a whole to stand behind us, because in 2015 the Seychelles drive to enter the world of events will climax but with the expected successes only if everyone plays ball. This drive the was launched personally by the island’s President James Michel when he held the tourism portfolio moved Seychelles from being promoted only through sun, sea and sand and to bring the island’s culture to be positioned at the centre of the island’s tourism development.
In April 2015 Seychelles will celebrate the 5th anniversary of its annual Carnaval International de Victoria, the carnival that has now earned the connotation of the carnival of carnivals because of its ability to bring all the best carnivals of the world to parade together and followed by cultural troupes from the Community of Nations. In May Seychelles will hold its first edition of the International Trade Fair promoting more South-South cooperation with the Seychelles Chamber of Commerce and Industries, the Ministry of Tourism and Culture and SENPA joining together to create a trading hub for manufacturers, traders and shoppers. This event will be part of the annual Africa Day Celebrations – Fet Afrik.
In October Seychelles will celebrate the 30th anniversary of its annual Creole Festival. This annual event brings together the Creole Community of the world and the event has been credited to help develop a sense of pride in Creoles. Victoria, the Capital of the Seychelles has since a number of years now earned for itself the name of the Creole Capital of the World. In November Seychelles will celebrate the 25th anniversary of its Festival of the Oceans. This event known until now as SUBIOS has been rebranded and will be staged next November as part of the Blue Economy concept and Seychelles is expected to hold the 2nd Edition of the Blue Economy Conference at the same time in November. These four major national events will also be featured alongside the Seychelles-China Day Celebrations, the Seychelles India-Day Celebrations, the Commonwealth Day Celebrations and the Feast of La Francophonie, the La Digue Island 15th August Feast, the Praslin Island Culinary Fiesta, the Tourism Week and its Tourism Ball, the Miss Seychelles beauty pageant and the Moutya traditional music day.