With the year 2014 is fast coming to a close Anne Lafortune, the PS for Tourism, Benjamine Rose, the PS for Culture, Sherin Naiken, the CEO of the Tourism Board, Jimmy Savy, the CEO of the National Arts Council, Flavien Joubert, the Principal of the Tourism Academy, Patrick Nanty, the CEO of the Seychelles Heritage Foundation and Penda Choppy, the CEO of the International Creole Institute met with Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles Minister responsible for Tourism and Culture on Tuesday afternoon the 9th December to take stock of their Ministry’s achievements and to analyse the challenges faced as a Ministry during the course of 2014.
The Minister who had just returned from a medical trip in South Africa told his most Senior Team that the intervention on his spine had been a total success and he thanked everyone for all the ‘Get Well’ messages he had received.
The Ministry of Tourism and Culture is today saying through their End of Year Message to all their Team Members that 2014 has been another good year for the Ministry of Tourism and Culture. “For this let me say thank you to everyone who played the game to make the Ministry shine. We succeeded because an overwhelming number of our Team Members are proud to be part of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture. At our Senior Management meeting this week we touched on the key word of unity because it is this spirit of unity that we still need to fully embrace as a Team. We all realised that there is the need for each and every member of our staff to feel part of the Team that makes the Ministry and its entities work and that makes us the respected Ministry it is” the Message says.
“A few weeks ago our Tourism Board held its annual tourism marketing meeting. A clear point of reflection that transpired from this meeting is what is the Tourism Board promoting to the world. The product they are working tirelessly promoting to make visible is not a hotel or a guest house, the product is Seychelles and will always remain Seychelles. The ‘state of affairs’ of the tourism sector was analysed and it was recognised that the effort to market Seychelles internationally have paid off proven by a record number of arrivals (some 230,000 tourists enjoyed the Seychelles in 2013) from a record number of countries, and these statistics will be at least maintained by the end of December this current year.
There are critics levelled at our Tourism Board, some of their views aired are justified whilst others are but perceptions. We are all aware of the difficulties, of the challenges and of the successes faced by our industry. We all know of the visitor’s arrival numbers and of the yield earned by Seychelles from Tourism. We all know of the importance for employment provided by the tourism industry and the important role played by tourism in the economy of Seychelles. We all know that it is tourism that brings in the foreign currency needed by Seychelles. Therefore it is time for government as a whole, for the country and for the people of Seychelles to revisit with an open eye the importance of our country’s tourism industry, this industry that remains the pillar of the Seychelles economy.
The tourism policies in place and its related legislations, our tourism master plan and its related strategies. Those very important documents must be known by every Government Ministry and that these documents must be reviewed and revised to ensure that the country knows what kind of product it wants Seychelles to be. The continued allusion that the tourism product of Seychelles is the island’s accommodation network is but a lack of appreciation of tourism. Seychelles is what the Tourism Board promotes in the four corners of the world. It is not hotels and guest houses, it is Seychelles. This is why it is so important that every Government Department, Government Parastatals and NGOs join the private sector to do a self assessment of any shortfalls from their area of responsibility” the Ministry’s End of Year Message stated.
The Message went on to state that: “This end of year message by our Ministry is also an appeal to everyone in Seychelles Incorporated to be part of this process to ensure that all sectors, such as environment, transport, land use and Internal Affairs to name but a few, contribute their part to the national tourism development by making Seychelles, this product the Tourism Board promotes this idyllic tourism destination we say we are with picture perfect postcard of our beaches with their sloping coconut palm trees.
What standards do we want to see in all of our tourism services? Do we meet those? Do we have sufficient outreach programs for the industry? How is our enforcement of those standards? Those questions should not only be posed to the accommodation part of tourism, but to all other products such as excursions, nature parks, beaches, etc. As for tourism accommodation, the Department of Tourism has embarked on an ambitious process of classification of hotels to ensure that tourism establishments are up to standards.
Tourism concerns every Seychellois. In 2013 we have had 2.5 tourists per Seychellois. A statistics, which is quiet unique in the world. It shows not only the importance of tourism as Seychelles number one economic sector, but its major impact on every Seychellois’ life. We have to make it everybody’s responsibility. But we also have to take everybody’s rights into consideration. My ministry’s role is to facilitate all contributions.
We intend to continue to revisit our existing strategic tourism documents in the historic cross-sectoral, multi-stakeholder meeting we instigated as a Ministry. The emphasis will be on aligning sectoral strategies including those of air access, visitor’s safety and security, land use vis-a-vis planning of new tourism developments to the country’s tourism strategy. Priority will also be to facilitate contribution of all stakeholders and to communicate the results to the public. Our Ministry’s vision for the Seychelles tourism sector is a product we all can be proud off.
The consolidation of our tourism industry and the protection of our environment is not by banning tourism development, because it has been proven over and over again that through tourism we actually protect our environment. We need to enforce laws of Seychelles that manage our development and this includes access to our beaches and access to our tourism establishments” the message states.
The Senior Management Team of the Ministry also explained that they have had to rethink about the proposed changes to the National Arts Council and the Seychelles Heritage Foundation as they were finalizing the creation of CINEA (Creative Industries and National Events Agency). They said that they had heard the appeal by the creative and performing artists to keep the National Arts Council with its original mission when it was established in 1991 which was to coordinate arts in all its form and to organise, develop and promote the arts locally and internationally. They also said that they had heard the appeal to save the Foundation that overseas the country’s Heritage. The Seychelles Heritage Foundation will therefore also remain and it will concentrate more on the building partnerships to help Seychelles protect what its has that is dear to Seychelles. CINEA on its part will be launched soon to take over the coordination of National Events, the management of Conference Centres and Entertainment venues and relook at our Creative Arts Industry. The Senior Management Team at the Ministry of Tourism and Culture said that the Government had listened to those involved and had moved forward with their suggestions in mind.
The meeting said also that the International Creole Institute had now successfully become an autonomous body of their Ministry and that the Institute continued to strive tirelessly to achieve the Country’s set objectives. “Just weeks ago they broke new grounds for Seychelles and that is in the recognition of Antoine Abel with a bust of our literary icon. This approach was clearly explained by PS Benjamine Rose in the presence of President James Michel at the unveiling of the Antoine Abel bust. Our Ministry believes in recognising individuals for their dedication, efforts and ability. This was the same inspiration that pushed our Department of Culture to have a Wall of Fame for our most deserving performing artists and a Walk of Fame for all our departed stars. This is also why at the Ministry we have photographs of all past Ministers of Tourism and those of Culture, and why at the Tourism Board we have photographs of all past CEOs of our Tourism Board” the End of Year Message stated.
The Seychelles Tourism Academy on its part it was reported will be able to proudly welcome their new cohort of students in the new wing of the Academy at the start of 2015. Though late in delivering this new establishment to Seychelles for reasons beyond their control, they said that it was ‘better late than never’.
The Ministry’s Senior Team said that the Ministry’s Staff at Libraries and those of their Museums will finally have a their new Scheme of Service in the new Budget. They said that the insistence of their PS had paid off. “Our creative artists have once again an ‘Arts Gallery’ and our National Arts Collection has a room where they can be proudly displayed. Our National History Museum will this coming year move to what was until now the Supreme Court Building, and we are working on plans to give Seychelles a Maritime Museum. The Natural History Museum at the Carnegie Building will be enhanced to embrace the planning by the Museum Staff and the National Heritage, Research & Protection Section at La Bastille will be revamped to mark the importance of the work of these dedicated staff members. Our Archives is relooking at all its systems and procedures for better safeguarding our national treasures and help is being sought to give them the necessary support. Our School of Music, Arts & Drama is also being attended to in 2015 when their main building will be re-roofed and the current air conditioning of the National Cultural Centre is being reassessed to make it more energy friendly and safer for staff and visitors to the research rooms. Different incidents that have taken place in 2014 has resulted in our Ministry reacting to save the name of our staff Team. The book incident by the Library resulted in the Minister having to personally apologies publicly to the Country and to the People of Seychelles. Often we are oblivious to the fact that the buck stops at the Minister’s Desk. As Minister, and with my PSs and Senior Team, we shall continue to stand by our Staff. As a Team we know that success does not come from having one’s work recognised by others. It is the fruit of a seed that you have lovingly planted, and when you see the tree grow to maturity you can proudly say ‘I have succeeded’. We have succeeded in gaining respect for our work and for events we have organised because we did not work only to survive, but we worked to demonstrate our love for others and for Seychelles. We have managed to succeed what we had to do, even though we did not foresee all the challenges along the way. We were not scared or humiliated to ask for help when we felt we we were overcome by challenges because he who knocks will see that the door will open, and he who asks will receive. 2015 will see Seychelles move to performance based budgeting. The Tourism department has recently appointed a Director for Administrative Governance Development and Support. His main function is to ensure accountability in each section and related public entities. This will bring more accountability and will earn respect to all who deliver beyond expectations even under scrutiny. In the same line the Culture Department will be introducing its Quality Management System (QMS) throughout the Department to ensure the effective implementation of the performance based budgeting. The Tourism Board has been asked to look closer at delegations for marketing trips and days considered ‘must stay’ for these trips” the ministry’s End of Year Message stated before wishing all their Management and Staff a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year.