Christopher Gill, an outspoken opposition and a hotelier from the private sector block in the Seychelles writes following the resignation of Alain St.Ange, his island’s Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine Minister:- The jolly smiling minister of Seychelles Tourism from La Digue has resigned abruptly as Minister of Tourism. Mr. Alain St. Ange has tendered his resignation to President Danny Faure, before the New Year, just after he announced breaking the arrival records and increasing tourism by near 20% this year. At the time of his resignation, Tourism Arrivals blew the dream mark of 300,000.
St. Ange Leaves BIG SHOES to Fill
The departure of St. Ange now leaves a pair of huge shoes to fill at Tourism, Transport and Aviation. St. Ange was a tenacious minister, working every resource he could to bring visitors to Seychelles. He worked his friendship with e turbo founder to put Seychelles on the world tourism map digitally with initially over 100,000 email addresses of key players in the trade world wide. These numbers must have double and triple over the years, as his digital address book, combined with his jolly personality, would usually be key tools to negotiate numbers for Seychelles, most of the time over ice cream in stead of cognac.
St. Ange Philosophy Broke The Norm
Deeply rooted in La Digue as a son of the island, St. Ange grew up on an island that saw the transition from a plantation economy based on vanilla, cinnamon, copra, to tourism industry driven economy. With that, it was obvious to him, that when everyone participates in the effort to promote Tourism, we all benefit from it, and therefore, take ownership of this Golden Goose, that lays the eggs that have resulted in Seychelles now being a high income developed nation.
With this mind set, he set out to license small establishments giving Seychellois a direct interest in tourism. He licensed over 600 little houses initially, then another 1000 . While traditional operators complained, who could deny that Seychellois had a right to participate directly in the Tourism economy. For St. Ange, big hotels, small hotels, handicrafts, food vendors, all have a role to play in Tourism, and all should cooperate.
This was the dream, empower Seychellois, make them part of the Tourism equation, grow the industry.
Growth Spectacular Under St. Ange
Growth was spectacular under St. Ange, while he was being critic at home, governments in Africa were offering him contracts to manage their marketing of their destinations. They were offering him silver, gold, all the trimmings to come to their country, play his magic that turned around the Seychelles Tourism story from a mediocre performer of being reputed to be a ” 5 star destination with a 2 star product” to being ” a 5 star destination with any product, your pocket book can afford”.
The numbers are daunting 12% growth, 13% growth, 15% growth 18% growth per year. St. Ange was the key to government of Seychelles sense of assurance, that the money will always come in, he was their cash card above and beyond Khalifa.
As we enter 2017 uncertainty looms. The Tourism Trade has been given a left hook. The winner is the world, as St. Ange makes his move to head the United Nations World Tourism Organization. The UNWTO could not have a better spokesman, Seychelles could not have lost a better Son who promoted tourism day and night, communicated with the world day and night, while other ministers take 1 or 2 years to reply a mail, if ever.
Good Luck Alain, if no one said it , thank you for all you tried to do for us, though you did not always succeed.