Seychelles tourism explores new links at Asia-Africa Forum


20-June-2009

The director of tourism marketing, Alain St Ange, led a three-strong delegation at the summit, which took place from June 15-17 and brought together 330 delegates, including 11 ministers, from 27 African and six Asian countries.

Alain St. Ange addressing the forum from the floor

The meeting was also attended by President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Seiko Hashimoto, the State Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Japan.

Mr St Ange spoke at length during the forum and also had “country to country” meetings with high-level officials of different African states in a bid to encourage them to develop new tourism ties with Seychelles.

He said he remained confident that if nurtured and followed up, the talks would bring a lot of benefits to Seychelles and create opportunities where there were none before.

Mr St Ange met the South African delegation led by the country’s Deputy Minister for Tourism, Tokozile Xasa; the Kenyan delegation led by their Tourism Minister, Najib Balala; the Ugandan delegation led by their Minister of State for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Serapio Rukundo; and Mrs Hashimoto.

“The forum was a great opportunity to make contacts and prepare for future meetings to finalise cooperation between our different countries,” said Mr St Ange, adding that a memorandum of understanding could be signed with Kenya in the coming weeks.

This will depend on a follow-up meeting to finalise talks about a cruise ship linking Port Victoria and the Kenyan port of Mombasa and for joint promotions between Kenya and Seychelles for twin-centre holidays.

Talks with South Africa centred on encouraging South African Airlines to reassess the possibility of flying to Seychelles and also to cooperate in joint marketing efforts in South America, from where traffic used to come to Seychelles via South Africa.

Mr St Ange said the twin-centre option was also an attractive topic for the Ugandan delegation as it looked at the possibility of visitors linking those two countries for their holidays, as well as including Seychelles in the new East African countries’ joint marketing approach. This would mean the three countries doing away with national borders for tourism excursions to move freely between their respective national parks.
 
Mr St Ange talked to Mrs Hashimoto about the help Seychelles needs to break into the important Japanese market. He invited her to visit Seychelles on one of her future trips to the region to familiarise herself with the destination.

On a different issue, but one that can go down really well tourism-wise for Seychelles, Mr St Ange met the Cameroon minister for tourism and discussed the possibility of Seychelles being used as the training base for their ‘Lions’ football team before they head to South Africa for the 2010 World Cup. The same proposal was discussed with the Indian and Tanzanian delegations.

Mr St Ange, who was among the Ugandan minister’s guests on a visit to the plains, the Nile delta and the Murchison Falls, said it was overall a very successful forum for Seychelles and they now await the results of the discussions held.

“I return to Seychelles happy that we achieved a lot in the two days in Uganda, and that Seychelles as a country will benefit greatly from the opportunities that such a forum has presented us with,” he said.

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