A rare insight into Seychelles tourism was expressed by the country’s popular Minister for Tourism & Culture, the Hon. Alain St.Ange. Here, eTN republishes the interview in its entirety with due authorization and thanks the Travel Trade Gazette MENA Luxury.
With gracious strokes of speech and colorful insight, Minister Alain St. Ange, Minister of Tourism & Culture, Seychelles, paints a picture for ttgmena luxury of this island nation: behold its beauty.
Meet… Alain St. Ange
When I was very young, my father opened one of the first hotels in the Seychelles. I remember still being at school and helping him out with this venture. It certainly influenced me in thereafter studying hotel management.
I have to say, my ultimate experience would be a visit to the Seychelles’ atoll, Aldabra. Only about 0.0001 percent of our visitors can get there. It’s a capsule of nature, untouched, undeveloped, absolutely preserved for the future. Princess Anne of England recently wanted to visit, and we managed to facilitate getting her there. Needless to say she enjoyed it.
What are your personal hopes for your professional future?
In my current position, I feel almost empowered at having been on both sides of the fence: private and public. I really want to use this experience to be able to help better deliver the aspirations of people, and to safeguard our industry.
The Seychelles is famously a paradisiacal hideaway. Do you feel this automatically equates the island collection with luxury?
For us, the art of people being able to find themselves constitutes luxury travel. It is certainly not about mass tourism. We’re vehement in protecting against mass tourism, trying to direct a more personalized travel experience. We actually aspire to control our numbers. Luxury travel does not necessarily equate with high-end and extravagant capital, but rather focuses on the individual; nothing is worse for us in the Seychelles than the thought of our tourists becoming mere numbers.
You have been supporting the Seychelles’ tourism rise for a long time. Professionally, what are your aspirations for the future of the luxury tourism sector in the Seychelles?
Preservation of our natural beauty is the key to our tourism identity. We want tourists to be able to come today, be in awe of our beauty, and then come back tomorrow and the day after that, and still feel the same. If there were hotels everywhere, we would just become another destination. This is why we place a lot of emphasis on planning our development, which we perceive as being vital. Over 50 percent of our landscape is still natural, having been declared a national park. Our future is to continue preserving against being over-built to not lose our uniqueness.
A writer esteemed for your expertise on the subsequent topics, how far do you feel events such as the Seychelles Regatta and Carnaval International de Victoria assist in positioning the islands atop the pedestal of distinguished destinations?
My love of history, and exploring these topics, comes from wanting to document how things have developed so people may learn from this. We believe in visitors meeting our inhabitants, celebrating with them, sharing our joys as a nation, and thereafter building a friendship; really getting to know each other and creating a lifelong bond.
The Seychelles Regatta and Carnaval International de Victoria are perfect forums for this to happen; we express our heritage and culture, and the discerning tourist will certainly find themselves allured by the prospect of getting to know us.
Having studied hotel management, you’re no doubt very well aware of the wants of sensitive travelers. How symbiotically do you hope to see all factions of the tourism industry working to ensure maximum service and a seamless travel experience?
The Seychelles Tourism Board (STB) is a private sector partnership. It is fully invested in this industry and has really become the driving force in protecting what we have.
The tourism board stands at the top of all factions, leading them by example of ensuring that the style of travel encouraged and facilitated is balanced on quality, where people remain people and are not herded through the Seychelles-like cattle.
Having previously held the position of CEO of STB, what new opportunities are you embracing in your current role to showcase the Seychelles worldwide?
It’s a very challenging position. I feel myself trying to take the concerns, aspirations, and objectives of the private sector and the government, respectively, and bringing them into congruence. I’ve embraced this new position as a golden opportunity to forge through political matters in support of a sound tourism product. My main concern is establishing a tourism master plan, a creative approach that will see private sector and government working together.
http://www.menaluxury.com/images/stories/Luxury_Autumn2012.pdf – Turn to page 15 for the profile featuring Minister Alain St. Ange.