We must together continue to work as a country and as a people for us to protect our ocean because it is an important unique selling point for Seychelles.
Minister St.Ange said this while addressing guests at a gala dinner hosted at the Eden Bleu hotel as part of activities to celebrate the first Seychelles Ocean Festival held last Saturday.
Attending the gala dinner were the principal secretaries for tourism Anne Lafortune and civil aviation, ports and marine Garry Albert, chief executive of the Seychelles Tourism Board (STB) Sherin Francis and the deputy chief executive Jenifer Sinon, officials from the ministry among other guests.
The guest of honour for the Seychelles Ocean Festival, the chief executive of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Dr Mario Hardy was also present for the event.
“With PATA, we are opening doors, far and wide much further than we were doing before. As we focus on Asia, and its potential markets, we must look at PATA to claim a fair share of these markets,” Minister St.Ange said.
“Seychelles has been invited to be part of PATA and it positions itself clearly to be the bridge between Africa and Asia. We know we have a deficiency in air connectivity between Asia and Seychelles. Through PATA, we are hoping that together with the tourism trade and STB to look at new avenues of possibilities for us to open our doors into Asia,”
Addressing those present, Mrs Francis said the Sub Indian Ocean Seychelles, festival of the sea, has been on the scene since 1990 and has fulfilled a vital role in sensitising the world at large about the magnificent underwater world.
“Seychelles has evolved since then and many other exciting marine sectors have entered onto the scene. Today as we see our tourism sector blooming, we realise a lot has to do with the rapid growth in our marine sector, and this includes one of our unique selling points which is island hopping,” she added.
Mrs Francis said the Seychelles’ underwater world has a lot to showcase and contribute towards the country’s tourism industry.
She echoed words of thanks to all those who have in one way or another helped to make this first Seychelles Ocean Festival a success.
Also speaking at the gala dinner was Dr Hardy who gave an overview of PATA, a not-for profit organisation founded in 1951 that is internationally acclaimed for acting as a catalyst for the responsible development of travel and tourism to, from and within the Asia Pacific region.
“ PATA is a bridge between the public and private sectors and their role is to bring both partners around the table to have meaningful discussions about the sustainable growth of tourism,” he said.
Dr Hardy said there are great opportunities to build a bridge Asia and Africa here in Seychelles.
“What I have seen during my stay in Seychelles, and this is my first visit here, are probably what many Asians are not aware of or have not discovered yet. This is a truly unique and beautiful place,” he said.
In his address, he also spoke about sustainable tourism, which entails more than just the environment.
“When we talk about sustainability at PATA, we obviously talk about environment and we can see here the efforts being put to preserve this great asset of Seychelles and its tourism industry. But the preservation of culture and heritage is also part of sustainable tourism.”
Dr Hardy also spoke on the Festival of Pacific Arts also known as FestPac which is organised every four years. He described it as the Olympic of cultures in the pacific, to celebrate culture and heritage.
Another point which he talked about was the art of storytelling which he said is critical for the tourism industry as it helps to create unique experiences for visitors and share stories not only about our ancestors but about our Creole culture here.
“It is important to nurture your culture, preserve it and to tell the rest of the world what it is about. I hope that with PATA, you we can share your stories with Asia and the rest of the world, and to let people across the globe discover this beautiful piece of paradise,” he said.
With the aim of getting young people from around the world to share their stories of their local cities or countries and their cultures, a competition was created called the Global Travel Entrepreneur Challenge (GTEC).
The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), in partnership with Triip.me supported by Gobi Partners, FWD Hong Kong and STB launched the Global Travel Entrepreneur Challenge 2016 (GTEC 2016) this year with the aim of nurturing entrepreneurship and celebrating the beauty of local experiences while traveling.
GTEC is the only global travel contest for passionate locals to showcase their city and connect with people from all over the world while competing for a US$ 5,000 grand prize and once in a lifetime trip to Seychelles.
Out of 7000 people who entered the competition, a professional photographer living in South Korea Emre Kanik who was also present at the gala dinner, won the first GTEC competition and was presented with his prize in Seychelles.