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Saint Ange Tourism Report 6th August 2017

August 8, 2017 Destination Seychelles No Comments Email Email

I begin this Edition with a well known quote from the great philosopher, Socrates:-

When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser.

Following the discussion last week on the economic status of our island Nation, Air Seychelles confirmed the discontinuation of its Dusseldorf flight and a reduction of flights on its Paris run. This follows the suspension of its Durban route. Any loss of flights to a tourism destination is concerning, and more so when it touches key tourism source markets. Seychelles needs more than ever before to work in total unity to ensure that other airlines do not follow suit.

The remarkable success of our fragile tourism industry in recent years must not be taken for granted. Though we as Seychellois believe that we have the most stunning beaches and array of islands on the planet, every other similar touristic destination shares the same belief. This means that we are fishing from the same pond, and solely relying on our country’s beauty to fill up hotel beds year after year is an unrealistic expectation.

Visibility is integral and it alone remains the key to success. Visibility keeps tourism destinations relevant. 

Alain St.Ange

Last week, I was privileged to be able to represent Saint Ange Constultancy in the Berau Region of Indonesia. I want to thank Mr. Nico Barito and his team for their kind hospitality, assistance and, above all, friendship, which made this memorable trip possible. I visited some of the regions of this province and appreciated the wonders that each island has to offer. I was left in awe of the country’s unique culture, nature and wildlife, in all their diversity and splendor.

In Indonesia, more particularly in Kutai Kartanegara, I saw the drive to put culture at the center of their development, whilst providing entertainment with a difference to the Indonesians. Their International Folk Art Festival of Tengarong City provides a platform for countries of the world to showcase their music and dance alongside Indonesians. It was a nostalgic reminder of what the Carnaval International de Victoria of Seychelles was also achieving for our country as it provided much needed entertainment for the Seychellois who descended in droves for the annual event.

I have every faith that with the youth of today, the future of Seychelles will be very bright indeed. I would like to commend the ongoing efforts of youth groups, like SYAH, which are working very hard to steer our country in the right direction.

Finally, it is important to again acknowledge all who are diligently reposting the Saint Ange Tourism Report weekly. Your continued support is greatly appreciated, and is helping us to go from strength to strength with each new Edition.

Coral & Tourism

Despite occupying less than 0.1% of the earth’s surface, coral is main reason why travelers choose to visit tropical destinations. Coral is big business.

In a recent publication by Spadling et al. (2017), it was revealed through an innovative combination of data-driven academic research and crowd-sourced data that the world’s coral reefs contribute to 70 million trips per annum, showing that coral reefs are a powerful driving force for tourism. The study also revealed that coral reefs represent an astonishing $36 billion a year in economic value to the world. Of that $36 billion, $19 billion represents actual “on-reef” tourism like diving, snorkeling, glass-bottom boating and wildlife watching. The other $16 billion comes from spillover effects of coral reefs; including world class seafood, beautiful views of white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters, charter fishing, bareboat sailing, cruise shipping, helicopter and seaplane rides, water sports, whale watching, etc.

Unfortunately, there is also a grim side to increased tourism activities. Breakage of coral colonies and tissue damage from direct contact such as walking, touching, kicking, standing, or gear contact is a major issue. Boat anchors can cause breakage or overturning of coral colonies and tissue damage. Moreover, there may also be changes in marine life behavior from feeding or harassment by humans.

Tour operators, hotel owners and government have a responsibility over the protection of coral reefs. Proper education to visiting tourists and locals are essential for proper management. One emerging resolution that is proving to be effective is the modeling of the economic contributions of coral reefs. An example of this working is in Bonaire, a small Caribbean island. In Bonaire, it was demonstrated that coral reefs generate approximately $23 million from its related activities, and in contrast it would take a mere $1 million to establish strict protection. This was an easy sell to the local policy makers, who have established strict laws governing coral reef protection in Bonaire (Talbot & Wilkinson, 2001).

Photo demonstrating the rich diversity of coral and fish in Bonaire. Photo credit: Eddy Tuchman, travel writer

Human impacts are not the only cause of reef devastation. In 1998, Seychelles underwent a major El. Nino event which had caused the destruction of over 90% of the live coral cover. When major disasters such as this occur, it gives rise to unwanted algal growth. The photographs depicted below were taken during my field research. They demonstrate the contrast between a coral dominated system and an algal dominated system.

 Coral dominated system

Algal dominated system

Herbivorous fish species such as parrotfish, surgeonfish and rabbitfish help promote coral recovery by grazing on the unwanted algae. However, these fish species are also a major delicacy in the Seychelles, forming over 60% of the total artisanal catch. Moreover, fishing of these fish species is not regulated in the country, making them susceptible to over-fishing.

 Rabbitfish catch being prepared for salting in Seychelles. Photo credit: Facebook

Following the 1998 bleaching event, the coral in Seychelles had shown some recovery, but suffered another El. Nino event in 2016, taking things back to square one. Natural disasters are becoming ever more frequent with climate change on the rise. Tropical destinations such as Seychelles will have to act quickly to safeguard their coral reefs.

Science needs to be incorporated more efficiently into governmental policy, as has been done in Bonaire.

I have dedicated my PhD research to investigating the role that herbivorous fish species play in promoting coral reef resilience around the Seychelles islands. So far I have discovered that rabbitfish are playing a key role in regulating algal growth. I have also found that the Marine Parks around the Inner Seychelles Islands are not working effectively to promote herbivorous fish numbers. It is plausible that the lack of enforcement around the Inner Islands  are making the marine parks an attractive fishing spot for poachers.

It is hoped that my research, along with that of other scientists, will help Seychelles introduce regulatory procedures to manage crucial fisheries such as that of herbivorous fish.

“It’s clear that the tourism industry depends on coral reefs. But now, more than ever, coral reefs are depending on the tourism industry”– Dr. Robert Brumbaugh, Director of Ocean Planning & Protection, The Nature Conservancy.

Article contributed by Ameer Ebrahim, Environmental Consultant

References
Spalding M , Burke L , Wood SA , Ashpole J, Hutchisone J , Ermgassen P (2017) Mapping the global value and distribution of coral reef tourism. Marine Policy 82:104-113 Talbot F, Wilkinson C (2001) Coral Reefs, Mangroves and Seagrasses: A Sourcebook for Managers

UNWTO Secretary-General visits Mauritius

Dr. Taleb Rifai

The United Nations World Tourism Organisation’s (UNWTO) Secretary-General, Dr. Taleb Rifai, was in Mauritius until 2nd August. He was invited by Air Mauritius on the occasion of the 50th anniversary celebration of the company. Taleb Rifai also participated in various activities during his stay, such as working sessions with the Ministry of Tourism and Air Mauritius, and a seminar on aviation and sustainable tourism. He also  launched the “Travel, Enjoy and Respect” campaign in the context of the international year of sustainable tourism for development. Several visits  around the island were scheduled for the UNWTO Secretary-General during his visit to Mauritius. Dr. Rifai was being accompanied by Elsia Grandcourt, the UNWTO Director for Africa.

WTTC has a new President & CEO

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has announced that they have appointed a new President & CEO to replace the outgoing David Scowsill: Gloria Guevara Manzo.

Gloria Guevara Manzo

Ms Guevara is well known to the world of tourism and served as Secretary of Tourism for Mexico and CEO of the Mexican Tourism Board from 2010 to 2012, and Minister in the Cabinet of President Calderón. Prior to that, she worked for global distribution system Sabre where most recently she was CEO of Sabre Mexico, reporting to the board of directors of a joint venture between Aeroméxico, Mexicana and Sabre Holdings. She is currently Special Advisor on Government Affairs for the Centre on Health and the Global Environment at the School of Public Health, Harvard.

Announcing Ms Guevara’s appointment, Gerald Lawless, WTTC Chairman said, “Gloria is a proven leader who is well known and well respected within the global Travel & Tourism sector. I am delighted that she will lead WTTC into the next phase of its development. Gloria was chosen from a competitive field of international candidates. With a career encompassing senior roles across private sector, government and academia, she brings a unique combination of experience and expertise.”

Reflecting on her appointment, Ms Guevara said, “I am excited to be taking up the role of President & CEO of WTTC. Over the past few years, WTTC has grown enormously in stature and impact. I look forward to building on this great foundation to expand the Council’s advocacy work for Travel & Tourism, a sector which accounts for 10% of the world’s GDP and 1 in 10 jobs.

This is a critical time for Travel & Tourism and the 292 million people whose jobs depend on it. Future forecasts are strong, but with ongoing terrorism and environmental challenges, compounded by a world which is simultaneously ever more connected yet increasingly divided, now, more than ever, the sector needs to come together with one voice. Travel & Tourism needs to show not only its economic importance but also how it is committed to creating sustainable livelihoods, protecting nature and cultures, and asserting itself as a responsible and leading player in this fast-evolving world.

I am looking forward to working with the Chairman, Vice Chairs, Executive Committee and Members of WTTC to ensure that the voice of the Travel & Tourism is heard and understood by governments around the world.”

WTTC is the world authority on Travel & Tourism with a membership which comprises over 150 CEOs of the world’s leading Travel & Tourism companies. It is the only global private sector organisation representing the breadth of the global business and leisure travel industries.

We take this opportunity from the islands of Seychelles to congratulate Gloria Guevara Manzo on her well-deserved appointment and to wish her well as the new President & CEO of the WTTC.

Seychelles Tourism Board praises Ethiopian Airlines for creating a viable niche for growth

The Seychelles Tourism Board (STB) has expressed the desire the see further growth of its relationship with Ethiopian Airlines, for the betterment of both the airline and the island destination. The Chief Executive of the Tourism Board, Mrs. Sherin Francis, on Tuesday met with the outgoing Ethiopian Airlines’ area manager for Seychelles, Ms. Meseret Tekalign, and her successor, Ms. Meron Tsegaye.

The meeting was attended by the Tourism Board’s Deputy Chief Executive, Ms. Jenifer Sinon, and Senior Marketing Executive, Mrs. Amia Jovanovic-Desir.

Mrs. Francis took the opportunity to thank Ms. Tekalign for her dedication and continuous collaboration with the island’s Tourism Board during her time at the helm of the Ethiopian Airlines’ office in Seychelles.

“You have been very proactive and you made every effort to understand our market, which is more of a leisure traveler market and you also worked very closely with the Tourism Board supporting our events including the familiarization and media visits,” said Mrs. Francis, “We have so many airlines flying to Seychelles now, but Ethiopian Airlines managed to find its own little niche; you have your group of clientele and you are growing that. At the end of the day Seychelles benefits.”

Ethiopian Airlines — Ethiopia’s national carrier — is described as the fastest-growing airline and the largest on the African continent. The airline, which uses its strategic hub in Addis Ababa to fly to Seychelles and beyond, started with three weekly flights to Seychelles for just over a year, before withdrawing on March 1, 2014. The airline resumed the thrice-weekly services at the end of September 2014.

Ms. Tsegaye has given her commitment that she will be following in the footsteps of her predecessor and see what more can be added to the service.

After adding a fourth flight to the Seychelles route in October 2015 and a fifth flight in December 2016, Ethiopian Airlines recently announced that it will be adding a sixth weekly flight to the island destination as of December 2017.

The Seychelles Tourism Board’s Chief Executive remarked that more frequency also means more flexibility for travellers, while highlighting the fact that Ethiopian Airlines also supports the Seychelles’ Chinese tourism market as it provides good connections to the Chinese travellers, especially those travelling in groups.

Mrs. Francis has highlighted Tourism Board’s intention to seek further collaboration with the Ethiopian carrier in the near future, to support twin-center holiday packages targeting specifically the US market.

Ethiopian Airlines has already recorded a few firsts in Seychelles. It was the first airline to bring a Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft the island nation’s shores in 2015, while in 2016 the airline landed Africa’s first and most technologically advanced A350 in the Seychelles.

Kakaban Island of Indonesia, home to colony of non-stinging fresh water Jellyfish

Unique fresh water jellyfish 

Kakaban Island, Indonesia, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site which houses thousands of unique fresh water jellyfish. I had the pleasure of visiting Kakaban Island recently and swimming in its freshwater lake with these amazing jellyfish

Arriving on Kakaban Island

“Diving with the unique jellyfish was a real experience” – Alain St.Ange

The Province of Berau facilitated this trip for me and I was being accompanied by Agus Tantomo, the Vice Premier of Berau. It was an experience I not only appreciated but enjoyed thoroughly. I strongly recommend a visit to Kakaban Island and the Region to every nature-loving person.

Kakaban Island with its fresh water lake

The freshwater lake 

CNN Travel recently wrote that Kakaban Islands rated third place in the list of the ten best dive sites in Asia.

They wrote:- “It’s been said that we know more about the moon than we know about our own oceans. That’s probably total rubbish. In any case the moon is about as interesting as a cold, hard ball of rock floating around empty space. The oceans on the other hand can captivate even the most cynical of aesthetes. But they are fragile things.

Human activities such as overfishing and pollution threaten an estimated 95% of Southeast Asia’s coral reefs, says the World Resources Institute. Climate change is also affecting them. Thailand’s authorities have even been closing popular dive sites to allow them to recover from coral bleaching.”

Moreover, on the famous Kakaban Island, CNN Travel wrote:-

“Stingless jellyfish are some of the more unusual creatures to be found in the seas around the Derawan Islands, which consist of four inhabited islands and two uninhabited islands off the east coast of Borneo…Free from natural predators, the jellyfish lost their defense systems over thousands of years of evolution”.

Culture brings people together, develops friendships and consolidates the tourism industry

It is through the promotion of a country’s culture that their tourism industry may be consolidated. Without people, there is no culture. Often the bold statement of putting people at the center of development is aired for political mileage, but how many really believe that this is indeed a requirement?

In Kutai Kartanegara of Indonesia, Mrs Rita Widyasari, the Bupati or Premier of Kutai Kartanegara, invited me to not only witness the Indonesian pride of their culture, but also their participation in a series of ceremonies and events that showcased Wonderful Indonesia in all its diversity.

Dra Sri Wahyuni, Alain St.Ange and H.E. Alexandrina Guigova, Acting Ambassador of Bulgaria

The International Folk Art Festival brings countries of the world together to showcase their music and dance alongside Indonesians. Musical Groups accompanied by dancers were present from Europe as well as Asia.

In the presence of the Premier Mrs Rita Widyasari, and alongside Dra Sri Wahyuni,  the local Head of Tourism Department,  I sat with different foreign Ambassadors accredited to Indonesia who were present to see their country’s group perform. Present were H.E. Maria Gustava, the Ambassador of Mozambique, H.E. Igor Kaczmarczyk, Ambassador of Poland and H.E. Alexandrina Guigova, the Acting Ambassador of Bulgaria.

One dance and music group present among many was the Folklorika Group from Bulgaria which was headed by Evelina Pavlova.

Head of Tourism & Ambassador learning the Bulgarian Dance Steps

The Bulgarian Delegation pose for a souvenir photo

SriLankan Airlines announces flights to elbourne

Good news for Seychelles with a new air access linking the mid-ocean islands with Australia. The Seychellois diaspora in Australia is large, and the Australian Seychellois Community is always on the look out for a more direct connection and at the best rate.

John Savage of Global Travel media writes:- SriLankan Airlines held functions in Sydney and Melbourne recently to announce direct flights between Melbourne and Colombo commencing on 29th October, 2017.

Agents, Operators and Media made up the 150 travel personnel in attendance at Sydney’s Shangri La Hotel on 27th July. The national carrier’s new daily direct flight schedule marks a long anticipated return to Australia by the Oneworld member.

Travel and Music Guru, Glenn A Baker was the keynote speaker and entertained the audience with history and humour following a recent trip to the country. SriLankan Airlines’ Chief Executive Officer, Captain Suren Ratwatte previously outlined how the return of the airline strengthens long standing ties between the countries.

“We recently celebrated the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between our nations and the addition of Melbourne signifies our strategy of optimizing the Airline’s network with our restructuring. This also means that we have connected another continent to our global route map. Given the number of Sri Lankans residing in and around Victoria, we fulfil a need for a direct service. We are proud to welcome all the diverse residents of Victoria who can now enjoy the direct connections when visiting their friends and families throughout our network.” he said.

The Airline will operate Airbus 330-200 aircraft on the route, offering modern in-flight comforts along with its award winning service and the world renowned Sri Lankan warmth and hospitality. Economy fares start from AUD $820. http://www.srilankan.com/en_uk/au

Australia is home to one of the largest Sri Lankan expatriate communities, many of whom reside in and around Melbourne, the capital of Australia’s ‘Garden State’, Victoria. This factor, together with the tremendous potential for business travel and Victoria’s growing student population convinced the Airline to plan for the launch of non-stop daily services to Melbourne.

The non-stop services will also facilitate passengers from the Middle East and South Asia seeking onward connectivity via Colombo to/from Australia

SriLankan Airlines’ Chief Commercial Officer, Mr. Siva Ramachandran said, “Despite the absence of direct connections, we have witnessed a steady increase in passengers travelling between Colombo and Melbourne via various Asian connecting points such as Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Our direct services will give us a definite advantage as SriLankan is the only carrier that is able to offer connectivity of this nature. We also offer seamless onward connections beyond Colombo to a range of destinations in the Indian Sub-Continent and Middle East.”

Australian visitation figures increased by 10.4 percent to 6,360 in the 12 months to June, 2017 and the airline expects considerable further growth in these figures following the introduction of the direct flights.

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