A press conference with the most of La Reunion island television and radio stations and with most of the written press also present was called yesterday to close the General Meeting of the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands. The press conference was presided over by Minister Alain St.Ange from the Seychelles who is the current President of the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands and was attended by delegates from five of the six islands that make up the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands.
The high-level delegates who also addressed the press conference included Mr. Didier Robert, President Region Reunion from La Reunion, and Minister Michael Sik Yuen, the Minister responsible for Tourism from Mauritius.
Minister Alain St.Ange, the President of the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands, opened the press conference by thanking President Didier Robert of La Reunion and Pascal Viroleau of the IRT (La Reunion Tourisme) for hosting that meeting and for acting as Secretariat for this General Meeting of the island grouping, which was the forum where many key decisions that would consolidate the regional body were tabled, debated, and adopted.
In the presence of Robert Desvaux, Président MTPA (Mauritius); Karl Mootoossamy, Directeur, MTPA (Mauritius); Michel Ahamed, Directeur du comité départemental du tourisme (Mayotte); Atoumani Harouna, Vice Président du comité départemental du tourisme (Mayotte); Pascal Viroleau, Directeur IRT (La Réunion); Volanirina Natalia Raveloson, Directrice Office national Malgache du Tourism (Madagascar); Salim Said, Conseil Général de Mayotte (Mayotte); and Alihamidi Anais, Conseil Général de Mayotte (Mayotte), the President of the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands explained to the press the resolutions taken at the La Réunion meeting.
“The two back-to-back meetings have seen many resolutions adopted that will ensure the consolidation of our regional body,” Minister St.Ange said, “Today, we have adopted our budgetary provisions; the need to recruit a CEO and a Director of Marketing for the Vanilla Islands; we have agreed that the Head Office of the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands will be in La Reunion; we decided to have an Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands newsletter; and to revamp the organization’s website, which will provide links with sites of each member state; we agreed that marketing and sales works will continue to consolidate the core markets of Europe; and that all efforts will be made to open China as a new market for the region,” Alain St.Ange, the President of the Vanilla Islands said.
The Seychelles Minister also explained that the meeting approved to the request by Hon. Serge Claire of Mauritius to have the island of Rodrigues accepted as a member of the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands and also at the same time approved that the island of Nosy Bay of Madagascar, Praslin, and La Digue of the Seychelles to be admitted as members of the organization and to invite the Republic of Maldives to join the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands grouping. “We discussed the need to rally our regional assets and to promote them as part and parcel of the region. Rodrigues, Nosy Bay, Praslin, and La Digue are known tourism destinations in their own rights, and it was important to recognize that in the composition of our membership. This is also the same reason why we are now inviting the Maldives to join forces with us to make our regional body truly representative,” Minister St.Ange said.
The meeting in La Reunion also adopted that four regional events be listed as those of the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands namely: the February/March Carnaval International de Victoria in Seychelles, the June Tourism Fair in Madagascar, the July Shopping Fiesta in Mauritius, and the December Liberte Metisse Day in La Reunion.
Minister Sik Yuen of Mauritius and President Didier Robert of La Reunion both said when they took the floor that the Vanilla Islands was now taking its rightful place as a regional body. Both congratulated the spirit of seriousness that guided the deliberations of the two-day meeting and both reiterated the importance for the islands of the Indian Ocean to be united in moving forward.
During question time from the floor, the question of inadequate air access was tabled as was the new agreements taking shape between Air Austral, Air Mauritius, and Air Madagascar that was explained by President Didier Robert.
To a question on why was the regional body making headway today, Minister Alain St.Ange of the Seychelles said that it was a matter of human thrust and feeling. “Today the leaders of the Indian Ocean are all talking; today Ministers of Tourism in the region can sit down together and openly discuss matters of interest to each island of the region. These are and remain the key ingredients for working together in close partnership,” Alain St.Ange, the President of the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands said.