This year’s tourism strapline is a “Billion tourists..a billion opportunities” and this is important for two reasons: Firstly it signifies that we have reached the magic number of 1 million tourists travelling the globe which in itself is hugely important as it shows the increasingly critical role that tourism is playing as a global industry…the industry of the future.
Tourism is the new industry, outstripping all others and its effect on the way we live our lives is already all-pervading. Even here at home in Seychelles, just look how many businesses are geared in some way to providing a service linked to the tourism industry. It is already substantial and destined to become even more so with each passing year.
Tourism is indeed now a global industry, extending its reach to every country in the world. There is hardly any country on the planet that is not is in some way involved in the business of accepting visitors, and those countries who, largely for the reason of their insecurity, are not in a position to be hospitable…wish they were because the economic benefits to their societies would be very considerable.
Tourism, if it is properly established and encouraged holds the potential for a huge range of benefits to everyone in the country but process does not happen automatically. When the fisherman goes fishing, there are many things he needs to do and choices he needs to make to ensure he brings some fish back home. He must have the right boat…the right equipment…the right crew and he must go where the fish are. Otherwise, he will only return home empty-handed!!
It is exactly the same with tourism. We must all make it our business to understand the business of tourism and what the tourist is looking for when he comes to visit our country. We must go out of his way to meet his expectations and ensure that he leaves satisfied because there are many other places he can go for his next holiday if we disappoint him.
And yet, if we engage with this tourist who comes to our shores and ensure that he or she passes a wonderful vacation, then, like the fisherman, we reap the benefits in our taxi, our hotel, restaurant, boat charter and boutique and we become wealthier as a nation as the benefits from tourism trickle down through society.
But, as well as benefits, there are responsibilities we must assume as well. We must ensure that our tourism product is up to scratch and does not leave the tourist disappointed because today’s tourist is far better informed than he was 30 years ago. Thanks to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Trip Advisor and so many other social media platforms, he can get information about the destination he plans to visit even before he sets foot here…and he can leave feedback as well…for those planning to follow in his footsteps. In Seychelles we have moved to make our tourism industry more inclusive when the call was made for the Seychellois to ‘claim back their industry’.
Like never before Seychellois, big and small, are actively involved in their tourism industry and the concept of days gone by when the tagline of ‘them and us’ is history as foreign businesses were oftenreferred too. We have moved to make Seychelles a more affordable destination and this has started to paydividends as airline companies now see the potential of having passengers in the economy section of their planes.
Let us use this tourism week to familiarise ourselves with this industry of our that has become so very important and upon which we rely for our prosperity and that of our children and grandchildren and ensure that as we hope to win more tourists to our shores, that we place ourselves correctly to benefit from the increased opportunities which may come our way.