Local and foreign delegates are meeting in Seychelles for a four-day conference on world heritage and cultural tourism development.
The conference is being organised by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, the Festival Kreol organising committee, the Seychelles Heritage Foundation, the International Council on Monuments and Sites and the International committee of cultural tourism.
The opening ceremony of the conference was held on Monday at the Mission Lodge, one of Seychelles’ cultural and heritage assets.
Present at the opening were the Minister for Tourism and Culture Alain St.Ange, principal secretaries of the ministry Benjamine Rose and Anne Lafortune, members of the diplomatic corps and many who have strong sentiments about the preservation of the islands heritage sites.
Mission Lodge e-marked by the government as a top priority nominee for world heritage nomination and is on the Unesco tentative list.
Work is being intensify to have another one of Seychelles cultural assets, Mission Lodge become a World Heritage site after Aldabra and Vallee de Mai.
The Ministry of Tourism and Culture is preparing a nomination dossier to send to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to have Mission Lodge which is also known as Venn’s Town recognised as World Heritage Site.
Its importance lies in the fact that its ruins bear testimony of a vital chapter in the history of Seychelles.
Speaking at the event, the chief executive of the Seychelles Heritage Foundation Patrick Nanty said Mission Lodge is an edifice with great historical value.
He said the conference and the presence of the many experts in the protection of cultural heritage across the world, will help Seychelles in the development of its cultural tourism and to boost cooperation with other counterparts in regards to the protection of its cultural heritage assets.
Mr Nanty said every citizen of Seychelles should be concerned with the protection of the country’s heritage and we need to seek regional and international partnerships to better attain the aim of protecting our cultural heritage assets for our future generation.
The president of the International Council Tourism Committee of ICOMOS Sue Miller said she considers Seychelles as a heritage in itself as our islands were under the British colony once.
“It is my heritage, our heritage and we need to share its richness and value to the world,” she said.
Mrs Miller added that by protecting this heritage will also mean preserving our identity.
She said the heritage of a country represents a platforms to unite people from across the globe.
Mrs Miller also spoke on the importance of bonding culture and tourism as both depends on each other.
During the ceremony, Cedric Thomas from the Constance Ephelia Resort presented a donation to the Seychelles Heritage Foundation to finance the publication of the book entitle Larout Patrimwann Port Glaud’, which will be about the cultural heritage of this district.
Launching the conference, Minister St.Ange said it was important to launch this conference at the Mission Lodge site so that the international delegates can explore for themselves the richness of this cultural site.
He added that it is important for Seychelles to believe and recognise the vitality of protecting these sites as they are part of our culture and history, adding that it is needed for us to know where we came from and where we are heading.
Minister St.Ange said instead of these ruins at this site located at Sans Souci, there could have been a five-start resort which could have been a plus to the tourism industry, but the government decided that protecting this historical site was of greater value and importance.
« We need to protect what we have for our future generation, our children. We need to understand that they also have to appreciate our history and play their part in preserving it for all generations,” he said.
“To protect our culture we need tourism and to sustain our tourism industry we need culture.”
Minister St.Ange and Mrs Miller also planted a Sandragon (dragon) tree or dragon blood tree each at the site, to mark the occasion.