2019 African Tourism Leadership Forum | 05 September 2019
PS Renaud encourages other states to take a leaf out of Seychelles’ book
Principal secretary for civil aviation, ports and marine Alan Renaud has encouraged other states to take a leaf out of Seychelles’ book in terms of tourism.
PS Renaud made this call when he represented Seychelles at the 2019 African Tourism Leadership Forum (ATLF) held in Durban, South Africa from August 27-29, in which he took part on three panels.
Over the duration of the forum, PS Renaud, one of the 30 plus industry experts invited to speak at the event, spoke about the tourism sector in Seychelles, the number one pillar of the economy, and the numerous changes, progress and growth in the industry over the years.
The first panel ‘Spotlight on Sustainability’, focused on the keys to building a financially viable travel and tourism industry and the need to take a long-term view of sustainability. PS Renaud gave a personal account of Seychelles’ experience of having to cope with its own success, with years of strong growth placing sustainability front and centre in policy-makers’ thinking, to ensure the archipelago retains its charm and reputation as an ecological island marvel even as arrival figures surge.
“Seychelles has an area of only 455 square kilometres, of which half are protected. We can shrink the 227.5 square kilometres remaining even further as tourists don’t spread themselves out evenly in either time or space: they arrive in seasonal surges and frequent certain areas more than others, their Seychelles ‘bucket list’ if you will, as reflected in the 15 Best Things to Do Seychelles from TripAdvisor for instance. It’s a growing challenge but one which we know and embrace, and which we will solve, and World Travel & Tourism Council provides guidance for countries to follow,” PS Renaud stated.
The second panel, a ministerial, policy-makers and private sector forum debate titled ‘How to boost intra-Africa tourism Across the Continent’, delved into the strategic imperatives of visa openness.
Head of programming of CNBC Africa, Chris Bishop moderated the discussion, which was an opportunity for PS Renaud to highlight Seychelles’ leading position in Africa in terms of visa openness and how it has been a key success factor in Seychelles’ tourism growth over the years.
“The experience tourists receive from the moment they touch the ground here in Seychelles should be excellent and this should be carried out throughout their stay until they leave. This is what makes a successful customer retention strategy,” PS Renaud stated, emphasising the importance countries should place on visitor touch points, as these directly impact on a destination’s brand image.
‘Insights into Air Connectivity in Africa’, the final panel commenced with a presentation by the manager for advisor and strategy relations on Africa, Sandile Chipunza of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) who revealed statistics and opportunities in intra-Africa travel.
During his intervention, PS Renaud presented the positive impacts of Seychelles’ air liberalisation on tourism arrival figures, noting that the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA) has modernised and added around 60 bilateral agreements in key source markets, since 2012.
“After this, you have to encourage airlines to come and your home carrier to take advantage of the opportunities. We’ve been lucky to have an amazing tourism board that has punched well above its weight in marketing our destination. If you are at the beginning of your tourism growth curve, consider engaging the services of professional route developers, they can help you speak the language of airlines and present your destination’s advantages in the right way to airlines. Coordination among local stakeholders is key,” PS Renaud emphasised.
The event was attended by various high government and industry officials from numerous African states.
The ATLF is a Pan-African dialogue platform that brings together key stakeholders of Africa’s travel, tourism, hospitality and aviation sectors to network, share insights and devise strategies for intra-Africa travel and tourism growth across the continent, whilst enhancing the brand equity of ‘Destination Africa’.
It aims to highlight and recognise game-changing initiatives being pursued across the sector inclusive of progressive policy-making, thought leadership, innovation sustainable investments and public-private community partnerships that are making waves across Africa’s tourism sector.