Today Wednesday September 27 is World Tourism Day and Seychelles joins the rest of the world to commemorate this day, which aims to raise awareness among the international community of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value.
Sustainable Tourism – A Tool for Development is the theme chosen by the UNWTO this year.
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To mark the occasion the Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine has sent the below message:
We must all ensure and take ownership of sustainable tourism
As Tourism Day comes around once again, it gives us the opportunity to reflect on this industry that has become not only the economic mainstay of our nation but also the backbone of the global economy.
It is in this global context that we must continue to celebrate our tourism, echoing the 2017 UNWTO theme which is “Sustainable Tourism – a Tool for Development” because if sustainable tourism is going to part of our culture, then it must become so, not just locally, but internationally.
Sustainable tourism is a term that is much bandied about these days and what, in essence it implies is that we must conduct ourselves and our businesses in such a way that will allow us to continue to do in the future what we do today…only in an ever better and more efficient, eco-friendly way.
To do otherwise, will be to saw through the branch upon which we are seated and deplete our tourism capital so that eventually nobody will wish to come and visit our islands. You may believe that is an exaggeration but let me hasten to assure you that this is a disaster waiting in the wings that has already happened to certain regions of the world.
Sustainable tourism is indeed a tool for development because it recognizes, protects and nurtures the Unique Selling Propositions (USPs) of our country, which are those attributes that most attract visitors to our shores: our pristine, clean environment; our social and political harmony, and our culture which is what the modern traveller increasingly hopes to discover when on holiday.
These are chief among Seychelles’ blessings and behaving sustainably will allow them to continue to be the foundation of the extraordinary Seychelles experience. Sustainable tourism is not only the responsibility of governments…it is the responsibility of each and every one of us to ensure and to take ownership of. To succeed, it must become our way of life and when we celebrate World Tourism Day together, across the planet, we do so in recognition of the fact that we must all do this together!
Here, at home, 2017 is shaping up into another year where tourism records will again be broken. Last year, we smashed the 300,000 visitor ceiling and God willing, this year will see a substantial increase in our visitor numbers which, even now, are on the rise.
And yet, while we rejoice in our good fortune, it is important to keep a sense of perspective because these figures do not arrive by magic or because we are entitled to them.
A great deal of hard work on the part of all the tourism players and stakeholders in the country: STB; the national airline, Air Seychelles; all airlines serving the Seychelles; the DMCs: hotels; boat carters; car hires and the general public all contribute towards making Seychelles attractive to tourists. The day we fail to appreciate this and allow philosophy of ‘business as usual’ to set in, is the day we will fail to attract those numbers.
Much goes on behind the scenes to ensure the continued progress of our tourism and when we see, for example, the return of British Airways to our shores after so many years, you can be sure that it is the result of much hard work on the part of the authorities concerned. And when we see British Airways and other companies investing in doing business with Seychelles, then it is because they believe in us and have confidence in our brand and our product.
The core of my message to you on this tourism day is that we are all in this together. Tourism is our national industry and our individual attitudes towards our industry will influence its success or failure, whichever we choose.
We live at a time of great and intensifying international tension which is already impacting on peoples’ holiday choices. Keeping Seychelles safe, clean and welcoming in nature must become a personal campaign for each and every one of us as we educate our children to do the same.
Happy World Tourism Day.
Ambassador Maurice Loustau-Lalanne
Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine