Our conservation record attracts more tourists


04-June-2009

That – and our keenness to preserve the environment – attracts more visitors here.

Chief executive Nirmal Shah of Nature Seychelles said this on Tuesday as his organisation teamed up with the Seychelles Tourism Board (STB) and the Public Utilities Corporation to educate key tourism partners on the need to conserve and reuse water.

Mr Shah (at podium in photo above) addressing the audience during Tuesday’s presentations. On the left in photo above are Vice-President Belmont and Mr St Ange

Vice-President Joseph Belmont, who is also Minister for Tourism, was the chief guest as the three groups hosted a series of presentations at Eden House to mark World Day for Responsible Tourism under the theme Responsible Tourism and Water Resources.

Mr Shah said tourism can cause harm to the environment, and visitors often seek responsible holidays where the tourists’ negative impact will be smallest.

“They want to know where the money they pay goes, whether residents get any problems because of tourism and what effect tourism has on water resources,” he said.

“We therefore hosted this event to promote this day and show people outside Seychelles that we are truly keen on responsible tourism.”

The event also gave hotels like the Banyan Tree Resort a chance to show what they are doing to conserve water amid reports that a typical tourist uses about 500 litres of water a day, compared with 175 litres used by each resident.

Speakers called for water conservation, rainwater harvesting and reuse of waste water for irrigation and other measures.

The STB’s director of tourism marketing, Alain St Ange, said our tourism industry gives many of us employment and income, allowing us to invest in infrastructure “and in our social services, which in turn makes us even more attractive a destination to tourists”.

He said properly managed, the industry should continue to come up with stringent conservation measures that can and should ensure protection of our environment and its resources, on which the future success of our tourism industry so much depends.

“However, I think we all know that tourism is very much a double-edged sword. If not properly managed, it can lead to the destruction of our environment, and to the steady depletion of our national resources leading to the eventual decay of our tourism industry itself,” he said.

Mr St Ange talked of cases in some countries where this is already happening, adding: “We must ensure we learn well from the lessons of these countries’ greed, mismanagement and eventual failure, to ensure that the same calamity does not befall us.

“We must take pains – great pains – to make sure we do not saw through the branch upon which we as a nation are seated.”

He said Seychelles must correctly manage the mix between the benefits of tourism as an industry and its adverse impact on its host – the environment – on whose health it depends for its very survival.

We must not “write cheques for the tourism industry that our environment will not be able to cash”.

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