Seychelles hosts two-day conference on Sustainable Tourism in Small Island Developing States

Tourism professionals from both the government and private sector, academics, as well as non-governmental organizations are being given the opportunity to engage in constructive discussions and networking on an integrated practical approach to sustainable tourism in Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

This is through a two-day conference being held at the University of Seychelles (UniSey) campus at Anse Royale from November 23 to 24, 2017.

The Vice-President, Vincent Meriton, and the Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine, Ambassador Maurice Loustau-Lalanne, were among guests present at the official opening on Thursday.

The regional conference on Sustainable Tourism in Small Island Developing States is an initiative of the Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Foundation (SSFT) – a non-governmental organization formed in April 2017, together with local and international partners. This includes the University of Seychelles’ Department of Tourism and Cultural Heritage, IUCN's World Commission on Protected Areas’ Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist Group (TAPAS), the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) and the Research Institute of Tourism in Higher Education -- Université Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne.

Aside of Seychelles, there are delegates from a number of countries including Reunion, the Comoros, Kenya, South Africa, Germany, New Zealand, UK among others, and they will be sharing academic knowledge and best practices on two main themes: Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas and Tourism’s Social Responsibility and Cultural Protection in SIDS.

The Founder of the Seychelles Sustainability Foundation (SSTF) Mrs. Danielle Payet-Alis said the conference seeks to build on the momentum of the UNWTO’s declaration of 2017 as the International Year on Sustainable Tourism for Development.

“The conference will allow us to learn from best practices from the participating countries but at the same time share what Seychelles is also doing …Our aim as the SSTF is to work towards a Global Sustainable Tourism Council destination certification of the Seychelles in 5 years’ time, so we have to work fast to lay down the platforms that will allow us to evolve and meet this desired target. Seychelles has the potential to become a model destination as a small island developing state,” said Mrs Payet-Alis.

In his address at the official opening, Minister Loustau-Lalanne remarked that Seychelles is on track to reach 500,000 visitors and $700m in tourism earning by 2021, while highlighting the challenges of managing and sustaining growth.

He mentioned the Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Label (SSTL) certification for hotel establishments, as one of the initiatives geared towards ensuring sustainability, while highlighting other international programmes which Seychelles could tap into, including the Maurice Strong Legacy Scholarships, formally launched at this year’s World Travel Market in London, particularly for learning opportunities and networking on the issues of climate change and advocating responsible travel and sustainable tourism.

“We will soon be investigating further the mechanism by which Seychelles can get aboard this exciting programme which also provides for 20 or more learning memberships in SUNx centres, one of which we are already looking at setting up here in Seychelles. SUNx centres are - Strong Universal Networks - a new movement for Travel & Tourism destinations and stakeholders to respond to existential Climate Change and meet Paris Agreement targets through Impact-Travel – sustainably managed, with green growth at the core and 2050 oriented. The SUNx eXchange relies on an expanding network of connected solar powered Centres and Nodes, linked through the cloud and community outreach for climate resilience. It has a web-based “focused innovation and learning” system with strong post-Paris linkages, low cost entry, on-line and on-ground support services. The establishment of such a centre in Seychelles would be of great benefit not only for the Seychelles but also to the Vanilla Islands as well and we shall be looking at ways to make such a centre’s $250,000 price tag amortisable over a 10-year period,” said Minister Loustau-Lalanne.

“Seychelles will be far better off when our economy, people and environment embrace further our tourism industry. Together we want to create a world-leading example of a truly sustainable tourism industry that will make a positive long term contribution to Seychelles,” he added.

At the end of the two-day conference, the participants will also have the opportunity to go on field visits to see some of the sustainable practices being implemented in Seychelles; the Cousin Island special reserve and the UNESCO Heritage Site of Vallee de Mai on Praslin are included on the itinerary.

Conference on Sustainable Tourism in SIDS

Conference on Sustainable Tourism in SIDS