Alain Saint Ange Appointed Deputy Secretary-General of FORSEAA

Jakarta (Indonesia) - August 25, 2017 (travelindex.com) - Alain Saint Ange has been appointed as Deputy Secretary-General of "Forum of Small Medium Economic AFRICA ASEAN" (FORSEAA). It is an intergovernmental forum founded by Seychelles and Indonesia with members from Africa and ASEAN countries, with its permanent secretariat in Jakarta, Indonesia. One of the FORSEAA programs is to achieve small medium enterprises (SME) in Culture & Tourism by playing an active role in encouraging the host community to develop a compassionate destination based on the diversity of cultures within Indonesia. Specifically for small islands' eco-tourism, FORSEAA will accelerate the cooperation between Africa and ASEAN countries, especially Seychelles and Indonesia, by pairing the brand image of Seychelles in the eco-marine tourism. Alain Saint Ange is working on how FORSEAA can assist the many small pristine islands in Indonesia to contribute economically to Seychelles.

A Vallee de Mai painting from the 1950s may soon return to Seychelles

Arthur Savy (Jr) was an elected Member of the Seychelles Legislative Assembly for the Praslin District in 1951. Mr Savy had also been a candidate in 1948, the important first ever elections in Seychelles where Members of the Legislative Council were elected. He lost this 1948 election but was elected in the following 1951 elections. Arthur Savy (Jr) was a close friend and political sympathiser of Charles Collet, the then Attorney-General of Seychelles, who through political pressure was forced unceremoniously out of Office.

He was the son of the very well known Arthur Savy (Sr) and Berthe Nageon de Lestang. Arthur Savy (Jr) was a keen tennis player and a great artist who lived on Praslin with his wife Paulette and their three children Francoise, Caroline and Yvon.

Arthur Savy and his family left Seychelles in 1953 / 54 for Paris and then moved on to Kent in the UK before migrating to Venezuela where he became the country's famous tennis coach. He was so recognised in the world of tennis that Philippe Chartier, the French tennis player who has a court at Roland Garros named after him, sent a moving letter at the passing of Arthur Savy (Jr).

Caroline was in Seychelles recently on her first holiday back after over 60 years since the Savy family left here. She is now planning to return to Seychelles and with her the paintings of Arthur Savy (Jr).

Arthur Savy (Jr) features in the book "Where the Clocks Chime twice" by Alec Waugh. He was 28-years-old when the war broke out and "in June 1940 was herded into a concentration camp". He spent time sketching with thick pencils "but his sketches prove him to be an accurate, an accomplished draughtsman; he can not only 'catch the likeness' but convey a temperament. He has earned the right to paint in the way he does," Alec Waugh says about the paintings of Arthur Savy (Jr) in his book.

Seychelles - a socio-economic snapshot

The Republic of Seychelles, an archipelago of 115 islands, gained its independence in 1976. Over 4 decades, its per capita income has expanded by roughly seven times. Its estimated GDP (Purchasing Power Parity) for 2016 of around US$2.6 Billion originates from: 83.5% contributed by services (inclusive mainly tourism), 13.9% by industry and 2.6% by agriculture. Estimated GDP (per capita) for 2016 was around US$28,000. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has predicted GDP annual growth between 3.5% and 3.7 % through 2018.

Today, the pre-independence, subsistence level of existence for a large majority of the population is a distant past for the bulk of the Seychellois. Seychelles has progressed to emerge as the very first high-income economy in Africa, according to World Bank’s classification. This is a positive and well-acclaimed achievement that nevertheless, comes with a price. The status disqualifies the economy from concessional resources for economic, social and environmental development and conservation. Yet the statutory adverse conditions of lack of economies of scale due to size, distance from main markets, paucity of skilled as well as qualified human and natural resources leave the small, face-to-face island economy very vulnerable to external shocks on which it depends for a large majority of its daily consumables. Thus, the focus on judicious management of resources under the present national theme of transparency, accountability and good governance, is timely and appropriate at this juncture.

On the international stage, poverty rates in Seychelles are expected to remain among the lowest in the world outside the ‘Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’ (OECD). Recent estimates show that extreme poverty, using the international poverty line of US$1.90 per day in 2011 purchasing power parity (PPP), stood at 1.1% of the population in 2013. In the same year, moderate poverty, based on the US$3.1 per day (in 2011 PPP) poverty line was 2.5% of the population. Income inequality is one of the Republic’s main concern as it is considered substantial, with a gross income-based Gini index of 0.46 in 2013, one of the highest in the region.

A recent poverty analysis based on national household expenditure surveys by the National Statistics Bureau (NSB) revealed that 40% of the Seychelles population lives below the established poverty line in the high-cost Paradise. Creating a lot of concern, the Government has reverted to focus attention on policies to try and lower the cost of living by exempting VAT on a longer list of items considered essential and raising remuneration by introducing the 13th month salary across the board. The effectiveness of those policies remains to be felt by consumers in the free market environment of Seychelles. However, it seems more likely that the effects of cost-push inflationary tendencies as well as the reluctance for merchants and traders to pass on the VAT exemptions to customers seem to militate against the intended result of alleviating the exorbitant cost of living plight of the consumers in the absence of any form of price-controls of yester-year. Other innovative medium to long-term solutions must be found and tabled for consideration.

The consumers referred to above are locals as well as the tourists whose industry is the most significant foreign exchange earner ahead of the second pillar of the economy, which is the fisheries industry. The fact remains that with stiffer regional and global competition, Seychelles cannot afford to price itself out of the market to the benefit of its competitors in the region and further afield. Given much more efficient access to information, all potential clients have choices and cost is one of their primary concern in deciding the location of their next holiday destination. Thus reasonable prices, enhanced presence in terms of visibility on various relevant markets and quality service delivery as the perfect hosts, always with the famous Seychellois smiles should remain our consistent KPIs (Key Performance Indicators).

The prevalence of the rule of law, peace, stability, safety and security are elements that are often taken for granted, yet, they are the very platforms for a successful and growing tourism industry. The prevalent challenges such as social-ills, especially with regards to drugs and alcohol abuses leading to petty crimes should also be addressed with greater effectiveness and conviction. Their respective levels could make or break the country’s goose that has been laying golden eggs in a significant way since the opening of the Seychelles International Airport.

This one quintessential infrastructure opened up the tourism industry that has brought much wealth and spin-offs to the island economy. It is clear that in this era of sustainable development and need to mitigate against the adverse effects of Climate Change, Seychelles has the potential to do a lot more than it has been able to register to-date.

What if we could independently produce and store renewable energy starting with solar, that is clean, free, natural from all our roof-tops? What if we could harvest much of the healthy rain-water that falls from the latter? What if from the same roof-tops, we could all enjoy hot water showers and baths? What if we could introduce and operate a smart-grid through Public Private Partnerships that could take on as much renewable energy that can be produced from various existing modes to store and deliver to where its needed? What if in doing so we benefit from a new and more powerful fiber-optic cable that will greatly enhance our connectivity with the world, consolidate our aspirations for the building of a ‘knowledge-based society’ and give a boost to the potentials of our third economic pillar – the Financial and Logistics Services Sector? What if the apparent lack of inclusivity claimed by the World Bank is partially addressed by each roof owner becoming a minor shareholder in the venture responsible to produce, mange and deliver the renewable energy produced? Could such transformational development single out Seychelles as one of the foremost environmentally conscious and forward-looking nations of the region? Would that like the construction of our international airport be the catalyst for the creation of more opportunities, wealth creation and prosperity?

Indeed, what if? You may think I’m a dreamer and I would not be the only one – but in all the above aforementioned scenarios, I am far from dreaming. Those are realizable objectives that are being proposed through a PPP. They are currently at the very early stages of being proposed to Government by investors. Due diligence of the investors and detailed feasibility of the proposals have yet to be finalized pending an indication of interest from the State to partner and realize the “Hexagon Infrastructure Program”.

Government is not being requested to contribute financial capital but rather use its leverages as a facilitator and enabler on the local scene to make it all happen. It is realizable as long as leaders from all angles see and believe in the latent potentials of such a comprehensive set of investments in an era where it is being acknowledged that Foreign Direct Investment is abating and needs a boost to sustain economic growth and development.

Standing at a cross-road on the eve that Seychelles is going to launch the processes for developing an inclusive long-term Vision 2032 followed by its 5-year National Development Strategy to articulate in greater detail how the visions of the Seychellois people will be achieved, the time has come to think in effective, transformational terms rather than making cosmetic and paper-plastering propositions in this unique and timely opportunity to lay even more solid foundations for the next generation. We all have our part to play and we should be forward looking, bold and willing to embrace innovations in the era of Sustainable Development.

Article by Peter Sinon, International Development Consultant

Flying the Seychelles flag proudly

Giving Seychelles positive visibility is the responsibility of every Seychellois who has his or her country at heart. Seeing Seychelles on the news in a positive way is a real plus for the island's tourism industry and its drive for attracting FDIs. Four islanders in particular are currently making positive noise about our country and must be recognised for their efforts; they are proudly flying the Seychelles Flag.

Former Seychelles President James Michel has been invited to attend the 1st High-Level Pacific Blue Economy Conference (PBEC) under the theme 'Sustainable Oceans in a Changing Climate’ organised by the Pacific Islands Development Forum to be held in Suva Fiji on 23rd and 24th August 2017. The conference is being held in conjunction with the PIDF Biennial Conference. This is a real honour for Seychelles.

Mr. Michel has been invited as a keynote speaker by the Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands and the Chair of the Pacific Islands Development Forum, Hon. Manasseh D. Sogavare MP, in order to share his understanding of the development of the Blue Economy concept and the Seychelles’ experience for the benefit of Pacific island countries.

In his letter of invitation to President Michel, Prime Minster Manasseh Sagavare said, “We believe that your commitment to the development of the Blue Economy is unparalleled and your participation as a speaker to this conference will be of great benefits to the Pacific Island Countries".

“I am deeply honoured to share my experience with other Small Island Development States in the Pacific. We have a great sense of solidarity in the face of climate change and in the fight to protect our ocean resources. It will be an opportune moment to reflect on the transformative nature of the Blue Economy as well as the concrete implications of implementing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 14", said former President Michel.

Mr. Michel will be accompanied at the Conference by the Chief Executive Officer of the James Michel Foundation, Mr. Jacquelin Dugasse. Speaker Patrick Pillay on his part led a delegation of Seychellois Parliamentarians to India and he kept Seychelles in the news. The New Indian Express Newspaper writes:- 'India's assistance to Seychelles is absolutely immeasurable.'

India's assistance is "critical" to the Seychelles in the field of maritime security and in patrolling its large exclusive economic zone notes Patrick Pillay, the Speaker of its National Assembly.

Underlining the importance of defence cooperation between the two countries, Mr. Pillay said India's assistance to island country is "absolutely immeasurable". He said Seychelles has exclusive economic zone (EEZ) spread over nearly 1.3 million sq kms and there are reported cases of illegal fishing.

"So, you need surveillance. One of the big areas of cooperation with India is maritime surveillance and training (of the Seychellois armed forces). It is of enormous assistance," Mr. Pillay said.

Minister Jean Paul Adam, on his part, is participating in the 17th FINA World Masters Championships in Budapest. His results so far are as follows: 50m Butterfly: 27.96, 100m Butterfly: 1.01.43 and 200m Butterfly. Swimming in the Masters Events are reserved for those aged over 25 years of age usually, and swimmers compete according to their age groups. In this event Minister Jean Paul Adam competed in the 40-44 years category. He has in his younger days represented Seychelles in the Olympics as part of the Swimming Team. He made the news and does Seychelles proud.

Angelique Pouponneau, an Attorney-at-law, LLM in Environmental Law and Queen's Young Leader has on her part announced that she is excited to be joining the Southern and Eastern African youth consultation on 'Enhancing Young People's Meaningful participation in Electoral Process in Africa”. The Consultation will take place in Arusha, Tanzania at the East African Community Head Quarters from August 28-30, 2017 with the aim of garnering youth perspectives on overcoming barriers to meaningful engagement and participation in electoral processes. The meeting is also an opportunity to build the capacity of youth-oriented and focused organizations /networks towards enhanced involvement of young people in electoral processes through responsive actions. Angelique is in the news as a young Seychellois graduate who is making a mark in her field.

Four Seychellois from different walks of life are making news on a global platform, and, in so doing, are keeping Seychelles visible and relevant in the world of tourism.

Second Terminal for Mauritius Airport

Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth of Mauritius has announced the start of the construction of a second passenger terminal in 2019. Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth said that the new terminal was due to be completed by 2020.

This announcement was made during a ceremony organised on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Air Mauritius in Ebene on the 11th August. The project that now forms part of the Airport Master Plan, is one of the major infrastructure projects that are in the pipeline to modernise the transport sector.

It was during this same event that the CEO of Air Mauritius Somas Appavou announced the setting up of the Air Mauritius Foundation that aims at promoting arts and culture, conservation of natural heritage and environment, empowering youths by contributing to the development of sports and encouraging excellence in education.
Dr. Taleb Rifai, the Secretary General of the UNWTO was in Mauritius for the 50th anniversary celebrations of Air Mauritius.

Reunion Island records outstanding tourist arrival numbers

Reunion Island, one of the Vanilla Islands of the Island Ocean alongside Comores, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mayotte and Seychelles, has recorded a historical growth in tourist arrivals for the first semester 2017, with 228 672 visitors representing an increase of 14.9% compared to the same period last year.

Those figures have never been achieved until now. Metropolitan France remains the main market with 166 869 tourists for the period. In the region, there has also been an exceptional increase of 88% in tourist arrivals mainly from Mauritius and Mayotte.

The cruising activities have contributed to these figures too with more than 10 000 passengers and crew members landing on La Reunion between January and April.

Africa and MICE still driving Kenya’s Tourism growth

Visitors into Kenya increased by 10.7 per cent in the first five months of the year backed by increased meetings, incentives, conference and exhibitions. Data by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics shows that the arrivals between January and May were 358,985 compared to 324,276 in the same period in 2016.

“What will drive growth for the tourism industry is MICE,”Tourism Cabinet secretary Najib Balala said yesterday at a tourism stakeholders forum. “We are going to implement our MICE strategy through the Kenya Tourism Board to make sure that we increase conferences and meetings.

Balala said that the growth signalled continued recovery of the tourism industry which had faced a four-year slump over insecurity.

He said that the 2013 and 2014 Alshabaab attacks coupled with the 2007/08 post election violence had negatively impacted the country’s tourism industry with most visitors opting to travel to other African regions.

“We have recovered almost 18 per cent since 2015 and we believe our projection is going to be higher this year. We expect a 20 per cent rise in arrivals by the end of 2017,” Balala said.

During the period under review, Jomo Kenyatta International Airport recorded 10.97 per cent more visitors totalling 320,588, compared to 288,905 in 2016. Mombasa’s Moi International Airport had 38,397 visitors from 35,388, an 8.5 per cent growth.

Balala said that while occupancy in the cities was flat with visitors adopting a wait-and-see attitude, regions such as Diani and Maasai Mara had registered full occupancy to the night before the elections with tourists drawn into the country for the wildebeest migration.

“We hope that this season will continue and we hope that it will extend to March or April next year but it will not happen if there is no calm in the country,” Balala said.

KTB chairman Jimmy Kariuki also attributed the growth to aggressive marketing, which has helped restore confidence among key international markets and the new emerging markets.

“The most robust growth in terms of our tourism source markets has come from emerging markets in Africa and Asia as well as the domestic market,” Kariuki said.
Balala cautioned against remarks or actions by political leaders that would jeopardize the gains made in the tourism industry as it would scare away visitors. “Our tourism sector is very sensitive to any perceived or real insecurity and instability,” Balala said. “People in the nature reserves and the safari circuit have said they do not want protests because it is going to jeopardize the tourism sector.”

The MICE Market (meetings, incentives, conference and exhibitions) remains a niche market every tourism destination is after but it needs co-operation by the host country. In the same vein lies the film industry and punter groups for casinos. Visitors from the MICE Market spend well because their basic expenses are covered by the organising bodies and they generally spend on entertainment outside their hotel, taxis, arts & craft, excursions and restaurants.

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