Alain St.Ange embarks on a ‘speaker’s circuit tour’ to speak of African Tourism USPs

Alain St.Ange, the former Seychelles Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports & Marine, who owns and runs his own ‘Saint Ange Tourism Consultancy’ remains a sought-after speaker on the ‘International Speaker’s Circuit’ and is widely regarded in the World of Tourism as a ‘Tourism Icon’ of Africa.

Towards the end of this week, Alain St.Ange will embark of a working trip that will take him to Mozambique & its Mozambique Island, Tanzania & its Zanzibar Island, Comoros and Kenya as well as Mayotte of the Vanilla Islands Group before returning to Seychelles on a mission that will last just under a month.

Many international magazines and press have covered Alain St.Ange when he was still in office as the Seychelles Minister responsible for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine, but the man is now more active than ever with tourism consultancy work with Tourism Boards, Ministries of Tourism, and the Private Sector Trade across our great continent of Africa and in the ASEAN Block. He has even been contracted by the World Bank to work alongside Ministers of Tourism in Africa to assist in the relook of their tourism industry.

It was only a week ago that he completed his weeklong working mission in Egypt. This latest working mission will see him board the Floating Residence “The World” in Durban in South Africa to deliver lectures of the key USPs of Mozambique & its Mozambique Island, Tanzania & its Zanzibar Island, Comoros, Kenya, and Seychelles as well as of Mayotte of the Region’s Vanilla Islands Group. The lecture will be a day or so before the luxury liner enters this country’s port.

Alain St.Ange is remembered for many things among which is the massive increase in visibility for his Seychelles islands which he succeeded through developing a positive relationship with the International Press and by turning the Seychelles into a cultural events-based tourism destination over and above showcasing its key USPs: – sun, sea, and sand. He was very successful, and that translated in recognition by the world of tourism and the press fraternity which in turn helped to deliver increases year on year in visitor arrival numbers for Seychelles, the mid-ocean tourism destination. Alain St.Ange and his Team in Seychelles never missed an opportunity in those days to spell out that success was visibility, visibility and visibility because otherwise, the destination would simply fade away. He is recognised for never leaving a stone unturned in that mission for Seychelles.

The concept of ‘Best Kept Secrets of the Seven Seas’ as a marketing pitch of the 80s was a thing of the past for Seychelles when the new Team heading Tourism with St.Ange guided the Seychelles Tourism to take the visibility of Seychelles to new heights. Before the era of Alain St.Ange, Seychelles was not even rated in the hit-parade of World Tourism analysed and issued in the World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index. Suddenly, it was under the leadership of Alain St.Ange that recognition was everywhere, and Tourism Competitiveness Index awarded in their 2013 Sub-Saharan Africa Table 7 showing the results for the sub-Saharan region with Seychelles entering the rankings for the first time at the top of the region, and 38th overall.

In 2013 when this news broke, World Tourism Leaders were gathered in Switzerland for the World Economic Forum. The news that The Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2013 had ranked Seychelles Number One in African Travel and Tourism Competitiveness and Number 38 in the world surprised the world of tourism. This report assesses 140 economies worldwide under the theme “Reducing Barriers to Economic Growth and Job Creation”. The assessment is on the extent to which these economies are putting in place the factors and policies to make it attractive to develop the travel and tourism sector.

The World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index wrote: “The Sub-Saharan Africa Table 7 shows the results for the sub-Saharan region which sees Seychelles entering the rankings for the first time at the top of the region, and 38th overall. The importance of Travel & Tourism for the country’s economy is reflected in its top ranking for the prioritization of the industry, with the 2nd highest T & T expenditure – to – GDP ratio in the world and effective marketing and branding campaigns. These efforts are reinforced by a strong national affinity for Travel & Tourism (5th); good tourism infrastructure, especially in terms of available hotel rooms (6th); and good ground and air transport infrastructures, particularly by regional standards (31st and 27th, respectively). These positive attributes somewhat make up for its relative lack of price competitiveness (120th). Although the natural environment is now assessed as being in good condition, efforts to develop the industry in a sustainable way could be reinforced, for example by increasing marine and terrestrial protection, which would help to protect the many threatened species in the country (132nd).

The nearby island of Mauritius lost its number one spot in the regional rankings, overtaken by the entry of the Seychelles that year, and was now ranked 58th overall.

That was a massive show of recognition for Alain St.Ange and his Team in Seychelles. From Seychelles, it was revealed that the International Monetary Fund (IMF), through Mrs Carol Baker, the Head of its Mission had hailed Seychelles as ‘outperforming’ many similar island destinations with year-to-date visitor arrival figures indicating an increase of over 20% for the first two months of 2013. In 2012 Seychelles saw an increase of 7% in visitor arrival numbers when the figures in Mauritius stagnated”. (News reports – March 11, 2013).

In April 2013 the OCR (Oxford Cambridge and RSA Examinations) Operations contacted St.Ange to include Seychelles in their exam paper. Mrs Simone van der Velden-Wouters, the Copyright Administrator Cambridge Assessment for OCR announced that the Seychelles Tourism Board logo and text taken were to appear in a forthcoming exam. Seychelles was seeing their efforts recognised at that level internationally. Their AS GCE APPLIED TRAVEL AND TOURISM Exam paper G723/01 International Travel of 22 May 2012 was on Seychelles as a Tourism Destination. This was an achievement that was rarely seen.

The 2015 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index again gave Seychelles credit for its work in tourism. After the big gains publicised in the 2013 report, it was rewarding for Seychelles to read their 2015 report. Being told you are doing well is one thing, but when International Bodies who look and assess one’s performance using other countries from the Community of Nations as Benchmark are saying it is a job well done that is a pat on the back for the Tourism Team of the islands. The statement by Alain St.Ange issued after the report was made public said it all. “This report clearly shows the underlying strength of Seychelles’ tourism and the fact that, despite our small size and that of our tourism budget, we continue to punch way above our weight…” St.Ange wrote.

In the published World Economic Forum’s Travel & Tourism (T&T) Competitiveness Report for 2015, Seychelles scored highly across a range of indices to win second position in the Eastern and Southern Africa category behind only the recognized powerhouse of the continent, South Africa. The benchmarks employed in the report included prioritization of T&T, international openness, price competitiveness, environmental sustainability, air transport infrastructure, ground and port infrastructures, tourist service infrastructure, natural resources and cultural resources, and business travel. In the same report, high-scoring Seychelles won 2nd place, finding itself above 3rd placed Mauritius, 5th placed Kenya, 7th placed Tanzania, and 9th placed Zambia out of a total of 18 countries.

But it remains to be said that one of the biggest coups by Alain St.Ange was his ability to start a ‘carnival of carnivals’ in one of the smallest capitals of the world and in so doing attract one of the largest press contingents following a world event. Sir James Mancham, the founding President of Seychelles is remembered to have written his monthly magazine VIOAS the merits of the annual Carnaval International de Victoria. Mancham said: – “Against this backdrop of multuralism, diversity and the coming together of peoples, it is fitting that Seychelles should be, once again, the focal point of an annual ‘Carnaval des Carnavals’ – bringing representatives from the world’s carnivals to the islands to participate in three days of celebration… President Michel’s decision to give Alain St.Ange the go-ahead with Victoria Carnaval 2011, certainly reflect changes of views and a certain desire from both President Michel and St.Ange to go down in Seychelles history as men of ‘grandeur d’esprit’.”

The 2011 Seychelles Carnaval International De Victoria was the first edition of a cultural event staged for two main reasons. The first was to increase visibility for the islands and in doing so to keep consolidating its tourism industry because it was known that visibility remained key to success for tourism destinations. Secondly, it was to stage an event for the hard-working people of Seychelles who wanted to get a ‘thank you’ from their government. It was some 40 years before this 2011 event that Seychelles staged its first-ever carnival. That was in 1972 when the Chief Minister of the islands, James R. M. Mancham wanted to get Seychelles on the tourism map after the Seychelles International Airport had been opened. A second carnival was staged in 1976 when the islands obtained their Independence from Great Britain.

Taking the Seychelles into the world of carnivals has been a bold move, but pitching it as the only ‘Carnival of Carnivals’ was an immediate success as the world’s best and better-known carnivals all descended on Seychelles to march side by side with each other followed by cultural and folkloric groups from the Community of Nations coming out to showcase their very own uniqueness, achievements and people alongside the best carnival parades of the world. From Brazil, Notting Hill of the UK, the Dusseldorf & Koln Carnivals of Germany, Trinidad & Tobago, Italy and France Carnivals to delegations from Mauritius, La Reunion, Madagascar, Comoros, Mayotte, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Zambia, Ghana, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Cote D’Ivoire, Indonesia, Cambodia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Sweden, USA, Russia, China, India among so many others.

Alain St.Ange and Seychelles had achieved to stage an event that went beyond politics where people from any and every nation were treated with the respect they deserved and could walk freely in the safety provided by the World’s Smallest Capital in an event coined the United Nations of Culture parade.

Alain St.Ange has been recognised by so many countries where he was decorated with their national awards. Organisations continue to invite him to sit on their Board of Directors so that they can benefit from his years of experience. He is recognised as a great speaker on the world network where he is invited and tours the world to address tourism, aviation, and sustainable tourism amongst others. He also is now constantly invited as a guest speaker & lecturer on cruise ships.

Africa can be proud to have one of their own recognised right across the world. Alain St.Ange was an elected Member of the Seychelles Legislature in 1979 and again in 2002, was appointed Minister of Tourism & Culture in 2012 and reappointed to lead the same Ministry in 2015. It was in 2016 that Alain St.Ange saw his portfolio extended when he was named Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports & Marine by President Danny Faure. Alain St.Ange was one of the three Candidates vying to be the President of Seychelles in their 2020 elections. After his Ministerial posting, Alain St.Ange was also a candidate for the post of the Secretary General for the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).

Alain St.Ange is never one to sit idle and continues to work as a Tourism Consultant.

The article Alain St.Ange embarks on a ‘speaker’s circuit tour’ to speak of African Tourism USPs first appeared in TravelDailyNews International.

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