MOT-50The Bahamas Consulate Office, Florida, The National Association Of The Bahamas (NAB), and key influencers within The Bahamian Community of South Florida, have teamed up to organize month long activities to celebrate the country’s 41st Anniversary of Independence.

Once again, the month of activities will be highlighted by NAB’s major fundraiser, the Annual Black Tie Scholarship Gala. This year’s Ball will take place at the Hilton Omni, Downtown Miami, July 19th, and feature the music of The Royal Bahamas Police Force Band. 

This year, the celebrations will take place from West Palm Beach in the North to Miami, Florida in the South. The July celebrations are being heralded by a series of Junkanoo in June Fish Frys, showcasing the country’s unique cultural experience of Junkanoo music performances. The Fish Frys which take place every weekend in June at The Bahamian Connection Restaurant in Miami started the weekend of June 6th and will take place through June 27th.

The month-long celebrations will also include Ecumenical Services the first at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church, West Palm Beach, June 29th, followed by a second Ecumenical Service at the historical St. Anne’s Anglican Church, in Overtown, Miami, July 13th. A third church event, a Gospel Concert will take place at the Freewill Christian Center, Miami Gardens, Florida, July 11th.





It has been confirmed that the Seychelles will be hosting the 2014 Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Tourism and Travel Mart which from the 19th to 21st September 2014.
hosThe aim of the 2014 Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Tourism and Travel mart is to bring together policy makers and stakeholders in the tourism and travel industry.  This will include both the Seychelles, Regional and International Tourism Organisations, Travel Agencies, Hotels, Tour Operators and Airlines under the same roof.
The Tourism and Travel Mart is also an opportunity to bring together Tourism Ministers of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) member states which would be the perfect occasion to discuss the possibilities of strengthening and expanding the regions tourism industry.
Minister Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles Minister responsible for tourism and Culture has personally written to Ministers of Tourism from the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORC) to invite tham to attend and participate actively in this important regional event.
The decision for the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) to host their Tourism and Travel Mart in Seychelles was taken when Minister Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles Minister responsible for Tourism and Culture met with the IORC Secretary General, Mr K.V. Bhagirath at his organisation's headquarters in Mauritius. The Indian Ocean Rim Association is a 19 Nation group pushing for Regional Cooperation. 
India, Bangladesh, Australia, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen and Seychelles and members of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) with China, Japan, Egypt, France and Britain having the status of dialogue partners in the group.
During the meeting in Mauritius in 2013 between Minister Alain St.Ange, the Minister of Tourism and Culture of the Seychelles and Mr K. V. Bhagirath, the Secretary General of the Indian Ocean Rim Organisation (IORA) the strengthening cooperation between the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORC) and the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands Regional Organisation was also discussed as it now accepted that the importance of the Indian Ocean, the world's third largest as a trade corridor and energy highway, is being seen as undeniable as it provides passage to half of the international container ships and more that 70 percent of crude and oil shipments. The potential of Tourism growth and its expansion within the Indian Ocean Region was also discussed as these remain massive. The meeting in Mauritius followed the Vanilla Islands Ministerial Meeting in Madagascar on the 1 june 2013 after Minister Alain St.Ange of the Seychelles had been re-elected to a second term of office as President of the Vanilla Islands following a joint motion presented by La Reunion, Madagascar, Comoros and Mayotte for the Seychelles Minister responsible for Tourism and Culture to consider leading the organisation for a second year.
The appeal then by the Seychelles Minister for the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) and the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands to cooperate together prompted the secretary General of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) to confirm that the tourism ministers of its member states would come together in the tourism mart in Seychelles in 2014 to discuss how to strengthen and expand the region's tourism industry. "The tourism mart will not only open new avenues for our region, but it will further strengthen and solidify the Vanilla islands Organisation in its quest to generate more visibility and growth in tourism" Mr K. V. Bhagirath, the Secretary General of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) said then.
Minister Alain St.Ange of the Seychelles has said that he was thrilled to be welcoming Member States of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) to the Travel Mart in Seychelles. "We are a good destination to be used as the example to showcase tourism. Our tourism industry remains the pillar of our economy and yet we have managed to remain environmentally friendly and developing a sustainable style of tourism. We are not after mass tourism, but prefer the personalised approach to tourism development as we continue to protect over 50% of our total land area as National Parks" Minister St.Ange of the seychelles said. 

Wreck of confederate ship the Planter commandeered by slave thought found; background-position: 100% 50%; background-repeat: no-repeat;"> 
The Planter, the Confederate ship commandeered by the slave Robert Smalls.  (Photo: Naval History and Heritage Command)The Planter, the Confederate ship commandeered by the slave Robert Smalls. (Photo: Naval History and Heritage Command)
CHARLESTON, SC -Archeologists think they have found the wreck of the Planter, the Confederate ship commandeered by the slave Robert Smalls who turned it over to the Union during the Civil War.

Researchers with the National Marne Sanctuary Program say artifacts that may be the Planter have been located near Cape Romain northeast of Charleston. They planned to meet with reporters to discuss  this on the anniversary of day in 1862 when Smalls seized the vessel.

Smalls served in the South Carolina General Assembly, Congress and worked as a customs inspector after the war. The Planter wrecked in an 1876 storm. Much of its heavy equipment was salvaged at the time but then its exact location was lost to tides and time.

   Alain St.Ange: The Leader of Leaders Who Created the Carnival of Carnivals

          An in-depth look at the one-of-a kind African Tourism Minister's personality, leadership style, and accomplishments.               

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            by Kitty J. Pope            

Official-Photo-Minister-Alain-St.Ange It was over four years ago that the Honorable Seychelles Minister of Tourism and Culture Alain St.Ange came up with he idea of organizing a huge carnival where nations from around the world could parade their cultures. With many countries already having their own unique carnivals, St.Ange envisioned an international carnival that would bring nations together in one setting to not only showcase their cultures, but also to help promote an understanding of multiculturalism. He went on to launch the Seychelles International Carnival where communities of nations get the opportunity to network and socialize in a relaxed atmosphere. The first of its kind, the carnival, which has grown every year, has come to be known as the “Carnival of Carnivals.” 

St.Ange says that the carnival is a unique world event for bringing nations together where different cultures are respected as well as celebrated. “Even in the General Assembly of the United Nations when some world leaders stand to deliver their address, some delegates walk out, but here respect for everyone is and will remain the key to ties of friendship and togetherness,” he explains. 

Supporting St.Ange's view of the carnival, Canadian journalist Carol Perhudof said that she has come to believe that the "Carnaval International de Victoria" could help to change the world because it's a celebration of every culture together. “The Seychelles Carnival is a brilliant tourism idea that helps bring us to a point where we can live in harmony beyond colour of skin, to live in peace with each other,” said Perehudoff, after her first visit for Seychelles Fourth International Carnival.

Through this "Carnival of Carnivals," St.Ange has no doubt embarked on a global multicultural movement where people can capture the spirit of internationalism to gain a better understanding and appreciation of another country's culture. Seychelles Carnival has captured the interest of leaders, tourism officials and travelers alike from the world over. As word spreads near and far among VIPs, media sources and curious tourists, the carnival has continued to get more popular each year. So just what is it about St.Ange that has allowed him to be able to successfully devise such an ingenious way to propel people and nations to come together under one accord?

For one thing, he has been dubbed a master marketer and promoter by Creole International Magazine, as he was able to turn around visitation numbers to substantially increase tourism arrivals in Seychelles. Implementing and forging forth the tourism portfolio set forth by President James Michel, St.Ange's tourism approach and marketing methods have proven to be extremely effective, garnering him invitations from a host of countries and organizations that want to learn about the “Seychelles Tourism Brand” as a guide for replication.

One such organization that hosted him as a featured presenter is the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO). Huge Riley, Secretary General for CTO was happy to have St.Ange to share his winning strategies for the organization's State of the Industry Conference.  “Minister St.Ange is well-known among tourism circles as a creative thinker and practitioner who is particularly skilled in helping to develop various countries’ tourism potential," said Riley. At the conference, St.Ange topic was “Redefining the Role of National Tourist Offices,” where he spoke about the changing face of the tourism industry over the past 60 years and how tourism officials must be able to adjust.                                                                                                                                    

St.Ange has been interviewed by top media sources and journalist trying to get a peek at what makes him tick. Noted CNN journalist Anita Mendiratta has sited Seychelles Minister Alain St. Ange as a shining example of how to move tourism, trade, investment, understanding and opportunity forward. She said that St.Ange reflects vision, creativity, leadership ability and agility which she believes are job requirements for the role of Minister of Tourism. One of the things that St.Ange emphasized in the interview with her is how a tourism minister must be ready to be involved with local business interests, guiding local development, as well as international bodies and conferences. He believes this ensures that their country remains as visible as possible and in so doing remain relevant in the world of tourism.

Tony Vaughan of the South African magazine Property said that St.Ange entrance as a tourism official and the role that he played was very timely for Seychelles. He reported how St.Ange had defied the odds to bring tourism arrivals up doing a time of economic downturn. St.Ange commented how Seychelles was defying the trend with visitor arrivals up year-on-year by 12%. “We must be the only destination in the world reporting such growth in this economic climate. Quite simply, we've transitioned from a government led sector to a privately led sector fully backed by government, we've let go of the reigns, we've allowed the private sector to take control of what is in their best interest, and it's working. We've also launched the 'Affordable Seychelles' campaign to move the perception away from the idea that we only exist for the rich and famous," he asid. General Taleb Rafai

St.Ange has earned recognition for his work from countries as far away as China. The Chinese Xinhua News Agency labeled St.Ange as a “tourism guru” after his success in 2010 with a new tourism policy based on public-private partnerships and the strategy of diversification of the island nation’s source market. Xihhua News reported that the good performance of the Seychelles tourism industry shows that this economic pillar of the archipelago has resisted shocks of global economic recession, or better still, the recent threat to aerial transport by the Iceland volcanic ash. St.Ange explained that the new tourism policy of the Seychelles government was a win-win strategy where the state regulates the industry, while the private sector drives the industry.

On diversification, the tourism guru noted that the Seychelles had succeeded in moving away from its dependence on the traditional European market thanks to the aggressive work on the emerging markets. St.Ange said that their strategy has attracted increased number of visitors from such countries as South Africa, already the sixth source market for the Seychelles and also a hub for visitors from other countries, especially those from the United States. “There are also visitors from the Reunion, Kenya, India, and China, which constitute the emerging markets with great potential,” he explained.

Because of his outstanding work and proven leadership skills in tourism, St.Ange is a sought after-speaker and trainer whose tourism approaches have been studied around the African continent, and other various regions and countries. Always willing to share his knowledge, St.Ange could easily be labeled the “Minister of Tourism’s Minister of Tourism”. He has been elected to the Executive Council of the United Nations World Tourism Organization, and travel officials and industry leaders from the four corners of the world are continuously taking note of his accomplishments. St.Ange is a strong believer that an effective marketing strategy is the tourism industry, its sectors and different regions collaborating and working together.

Because he believes unity and collaboration is so important, he has solicited the partnership of other Indian Ocean Islands and countries to help present the carnival. La Reunion was the first to agree to partner for the Carnival when La Reunion's President of the Regional Council Didier Robert signed an MOU with St.Ange. Joining La Reunion as co-host of the 2014 International Carnival in Seychelles was Madagascar, Mayotte and South Africa KwaZulu Natal.

Acting on his belief in tourism partnering, in 2010 St.Ange spearheaded the launch of the Vanilla Islands Tourism Brand, a marketing concept that jointly promotes both the shared attractions of each member state, along with the factors that make each nation unique as a tourism product. As the inaugural president, St.Ange was at the hub of this marketing concept along with tourism ministers from La Reunion, Mauritius, Madagascar, and other smaller Indian Ocean islands.

st ange and didierPresident of the Regional Council of La Reunion Didier Robert, a key partner in launching the Vanilla Island concept, agrees with St.Ange that bridges can be built through the consolidation of common efforts. After St.Ange's two-year term Robert has taken over as president. “The reinforcement of cooperation between our Indian Ocean Islands is fundamental for the development of our respective islands," said Robert who has continued to build on his relationship with St.Ange in promoting Vanilla Islands and other initiatives. 

St.Ange's strong belief in promoting, partnering and collaboration is what is helping to make Seychelles a global player on the world stage. For one thing, under his administration, airline flights to and from Seychelles have increased fostering tourism development and international travel. His relationships with airline partners and other businesses outside of the tourism industry in Africa and internationally have helped to put the island on the global radar.

Commenting on St.Ange's tourism tactics are Robert Desvaux, Chairman of Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority and Didier Robert, President of Vanilla Islands. Desvaux said, "Clever use of media contacts and a tireless dedication to promoting Seychelles through the media at any opportunity has paid enormous dividends and has helped bridge the information gap about the islands and place them squarely on the map." Robert went on to explain that St.Ange knows how to tap into the power of his resources to spread the word about Seychelles across the globe, earning the islands increased publicity. "His promotion of events-based tourism and the resounding success of the carnival has propelled Seychelles onto center stage, winning extensive press coverage for his burgeoning suite of events," said Robert.                                                                                                                                                 

St.Ange is also helping to raise the island's profile through such organizations as the International Council of Tourism Partners, (ICTP), a grassroots tourism coalition of global destinations committed to quality service and green growth. Having helped launch the organization a few years ago, St.Ange and other member leaders are committed to the promotion of responsible tourism through ICTP. Another one of St.Ange efforts that has helped to stretch island nation beyond its borders is the International Creole Institute in Seychelles. Building on the mission of the former Creole Institute of Seychelles in developing and promoting Creole culture, St.Ange helped to launch the new institute over a year ago. He is now leading the institute in gaining an international status where it represents different Creole countries in the region and beyond.             

As St.Ange takes Seychelles to the world, he is at the same time bringing the world to Seychelles as evident through the Seychelles International Carnival. In addition to the carnival, he has to host some ICTP meetings in Seychelles, and has managed to convene various other global meetings in its capital city of Victoria.  He got the seventh "Routes Africa," to come to Seychelles for its forum on key issues in African aviation where a record number of high ranking delegates attended. He also got the historic African Union (AU)Ministers of Tourism Meeting to be held in Seychelles, which was the "Meeting of the Ministerial Working Group on the Tourism Sector Development Strategy for Africa: AU Agenda 2063." Each successful meeting or event that St.Ange has convened usually results in the call and preparation for another important one.                                                                                        

This has been especially true after the carnivals that seem to give birth to a new global conference, initiative, or event each year. The Vanilla Island marketing concept and the International Council of Tourism Partners were initiated shortly after the first Seychelles carnival in 2010. It was after the 2014 Seychelles Carnival that it was decided with a unanimous vote to hold the UNWTO Commission For Africa (CAF) Ministerial Meeting 2015 in Seychelles, after a call by St. Ange at the 2014 event in Angola. Also shortly after the 2014 carnival, it was confirmed that the 2014 Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Tourism and Travel Mart will take place in Seychelles, again thanks to group

With tourism collaboration as one of his major platforms for strategic marketing, St.Ange has called for the creation of a comprehensive tourism brand for the entire African continent. His initial appeal for an African brand was supported by leaders at the African Union Ministerial working group meeting for the Africa AU Agenda 2063 held in Seychelles. Committed to enhancing Africa's potential in tourism development through the African Union, St.Ange believes that the challenges felt and the rivalries on the continent can be seen with a fresh look when African States unite under an Africa Tourism Brand.

With tourism collaboration as one of his major platforms for strategic marketing, St.Ange has called for the creation of a comprehensive tourism brand for the entire African continent. His initial appeal for an African brand was supported by leaders at the African Union Ministerial working group meeting for the Africa AU Agenda 2063 held in Seychelles. Committed to enhancing Africa's potential in tourism development through the African Union, St.Ange believes that the challenges felt and the rivalries on the continent can be seen with a fresh look when African States unite under an Africa Tourism Brand.

"The time is right and opportune for Africa to work with Africa,” explained St.Ange. “We Africans need to agree to grow our tourism cake together and that cake does not mean the African Union will be marketing our respective countries. We will always be the best in marketing our respective country, but the comprehensive Africa Tourism Brand will help increase our visibility and make us more relevant in the world of tourism,” he said. "The African continent needs an African brand that will promote our region in tourism trade fairs. We need a brand that will work hand in hand with United Nations World Tourism Organisation and UNWTO body,” said St.Ange.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

A visionary leader with personal magnetism and far-reaching influence, St.Ange embodies some qualities of the greatest of world leaders. Like the late great Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the late world renown singer/activist John Lennon who both dreamed of world peace, St.Ange makes clear through his work and his speeches that he dreams of the day when the “world can live as one.” Because of his love for his country, Africa, humanity and the lengths that he will go to bring about harmony among races, St.Ange can also be likened to the late South African icon and former President Nelson Mandela. It is St.Ange's strong desire to serve humanity that inspires him to give his all and all, and dedicate his entire life to his work just as Dr. King, Lennon and Mandela did.

hosSince he is such a respected friend of leaders around the world, you might have guessed that St.Ange is also a beloved figure among his own people in Seychelles. The staff of Seychelles Tourism Board seem to like and respect him, which is a reason why they are willingly to put so much time and energy into their minister's projects. Even the locals describe him as an approachable, down to earth man, who is quite comfortable in his own skin. Perhaps this helps to explain why he is friendly and comfortable with people from all walks of life.

The journalist from around the globe, who light up when talking about him, have concurred that he is a very likable tourism minister. Bea Broda, a noted broadcast personality from Toronto who also makes her home in California sees St.Ange as a man who is full of compassion. "It is obvious to me that the success of the carnival is because of St.Ange's passion for people and Seychelles, and his desire to promote culture and tourism," says Broda, who has attended every carnival since the first one.

What is it that Seychellois people, world leaders and others like so much about St.Ange? Perhaps the reason St.Ange is well-liked can be explained relative to an answer that former U.S. President Bill Clinton gave when he was asked why black people liked him so much.  Clinton said that he simply answered, “Because I like them.”  Could this answer also be the magic bullet for St.Ange?  He is a man who likes all types of people, period. No matter what creed, color, nationality, background or religious persuasion, St.Ange, a charismatic leader like Clinton, makes friends wherever he goes.

His passion for Seychelles and its people has been obvious through his work as the previous CEO of the tourism board and now as the Minister of Tourism. Under St.Ange's leadership in both position, new endeavors have been put in place or enhanced. Three important programs he launched that have helped to raise the islands profile around the globe are "Friends of Press-Seychelles" and "Seychelles Tourism Ambassadors" and the building of a brand new Seychelles Tourism Academy.

Other Seychelles events held under St.Ange's leadership in culture and tourism include Seychelles Festival of the Sea, Eco-friendly Marathon, Festival Kreol, Fet Afrik, La Fet La Digue, the Seychelles Ball and the Miss Seychelles Beauty Pageant. Proud of the fact the Seychelles is a "Melting Pot of Cultures," St.Ange believes that Seychelles can be an example of how different racial and ethnic groups can get along. He has continued to support and celebrate the cultural heritage of the groups of people that make up Seychelles.                 

fetafrikLast year launched the first Seychelles-India Day celebrations and earlier this year launched the first Seychelles-China Day celebrations. St.Ange proclaimed with delight, “Together with the Indian High Commissioner we are happy to announce the Seychelles first India day celebrations. Seychelles celebrates through Commonwealth Day its ties with Britain. Its French heritage is celebrated through La Francophonie Day, and its ancestral bond with Africa is celebrated through FetAfrik annually on Africa Day. Who we are today is also annually celebrated through our Kreol Festival, but our historical ties with India and China had remained the two missing elements on our calendar of events,” he said.

St.Ange, a firm believer in preserving heritage sites, has proposed to the African Union to establish a tourism body within the union for an African Union Heritage Site label. While waiting for UNESCO to declare the slave ruins at the Seychelles Mission Lodge of Sans Soucis to be a World Heritage site, he introduced the idea of Africa having its own heritage site label. “We all go through the lengthy procedures for UNESCO’s recognition of sites we are committed to protect for generations to come. The time has come to work together to give recognition to sites we see are dear to us, to our people, and to our country,” said St.Ange.  He explained that this site needed to be saved for future generations, because it was a facility with history for young African slaves, coming from all over Africa, who landed in Seychelles by British ships at the time that slavery was being abolished.

Not only does St.Ange care about preserving the people's culture and heritage, he also cares about the Seychellois people on a more personal level. In one incident, St.Ange was invited by National Assembly member Derreck Samson to visit Danilo Albert, a prominent artist with a rare disease that confined him to a wheel chair. St.Ange went to the man's home and upon  looking at his paintings and artwork, said that his ministry will provide Danilo with sufficient materials for him to continue painting. “It is touching to see that despite your disease, you’ve taken it upon yourself to seek help to be able to contribute not only for the well-being of your family, but also to play a part to contribute to the economy of the country," said St.Ange, the father of two adult daughters Christine and Michelle who lives in Australia. A supporter of families being independent, he believes that the role of tourism is also for the unification of the people of the destination through economic, social, environmental and ideological advancement and identity.                                                                                                                    

In addition to promoting tourism in terms of culture, another endeavor that he is developing and enhancing is sports tourism. And of course, he is using collaboration in his marketing plan. He has signed an MOU with Kirschlee Naidoo from Insane Fitness & Nutrition, Pretoria, South Africa with the aim of developing joint relationships in sports tourism as niche markets in South Africa. St.Ange believes that through the different marketing and promotion projects that Insane Fitness & Nutrition works on in South Africa, Seychelles would automatically be promoted. Mr Naidoo and St.Ange are also looking at a joint venture in promoting golf tourism to promote golf tournaments in South Africa and Praslin in Seychelles as well. 

This hands on leader, who seems to do more than his share of legwork, believes in meeting people and situations where they are. This time literally, when he recently embarked on an innovative series of 'door to door' hotel visits to ensure that senior management teams understand the properties and its challenges as well as successes. Wanting to dedicate quality time with each hotel manager, St.Ange said,“It is time for us to break away from our traditional approaches of holding meetings with big groups of hotels. Sometimes personal meetings can help to understand the problems." It was doing a personal "door to door" hotel visits that he met Esther Reimann, a rental property owner in Praslin who had been having a problem with a tenant about dogs. "Mr. St.Ange is such a fair and good man," said Reimann, after the minister was able to resolve the problem in a way that was suitable to both parties.

P1070846Perhaps St.Ange’s ability to deal with people in such a positive way has roots in his family history. His father Karl St.Ange, a massive political figure during the early years of politics in Seychelles, was described by former President James Mancham as a man capable of meeting and discussing politics with Seychellois from all political spectrums who possessed a true ability to “humanise” politics in the mind of all involve.  The latter St.Ange must have inherited a natural ability to effectively deal with people and a passion for his homeland from his father. St.Ange went on to study Hotel Management and Tourism in Germany and France before developing his career in hospitality in Seychelles.

His extensive career in hospitality and tourism, political upbringing, studying in Europe and working abroad in addition to his desire to serve people and his love for Seychelles has helped St.Ange to be so successful as the Minister of Tourism and Culture. His beliefs about tourism and culture being interrelated have also contributed to his success in this role. He says, “Tourism cannot exist without culture, because when culture is brought into the equation it is the people of the islands who are being recognised as the base for our tourism industry." The author and co-author of now ten books related to the social, political and cultural aspects of Seychelles, he believes that putting the culture in the forefront brings depth to the destination. “When one's culture is showcased we are putting our people at the centre of our tourism development," says St.Ange.                                                                                            

His extensive experience along with his knowledge about culture and tourism is what has helped St.Ange to create such a successful carnival, now ranked as the fifth best carnival in the world after only four years in existence. The enormous success of the fourth carnival is due to his ability to build on the successes of the previous three carnivals. The 2014 Seychelles International Carnival, with twenty-six carnivals from around the world participating, has more than doubled in size and attendance, and was more colorful and explosive than ever. For the first time St.Ange included a children's carnival because he supports the idea that endearing carnival in the hearts of children helps to guarantee that the event will go on for years to come. 2014 also saw the release of a new carnival song by Travis Julienne, Ole Ola en sel lavwa’’ a vibrational tune about carnival time composed and sang by Travis Julienne.                                      

outside interviewAs the world awaits the 2015 Seychelles Carnival, a clearer picture has emerged about the man who created it. One might wonder what his future goals are.  A career in politics? Perhaps not. St.Ange's legacy will probably remain in the tourism field. So what are his plans for the next carnival? Since we know more about the man who created it, and since it will be the carnival's fifth anniversary, it is surely guaranteed to be bigger and even better, a not-to-miss event. But no matter how big and exciting the carnivals continue to become, it is St.Ange's hope that the Seychelles International Carnival will eventually be seen as a symbol for world peace. 

The essence of who St.Ange really is can be summed up in comparison to yet another great leader whose qualities he embodies: US President Barack Obama. It has been said that an asset of Obama is his keen ability to connect with, understand, and relate to people, which helped him to win the election. The same can be said of St.Ange, who also has a natural ability to influence people. Perhaps more importantly, just like President Obama, in the face of insurmountable odds, St.Ange is not afraid to set high goals, roll up his sleeve and say “Yes We Can."  Just like President Obama, St.Ange is a leader whose time has come for implementing ideas and agendas that will set new standards in the world. One thing for certain is that you can surely bet on St.Ange being able to deliver and get the job done.

Photos: 1)Minister St.Ange with Secretary General of UNWTO Taleb Rafai who has been supportive of St. Ange's initiatives 2)  Signing MOU with Vanilla Island Prsident Didier Robert, 3) African Union Ministers Working group in Seychelles 4) Board Meeting of Seycehlles Tourism and Hospitality Association 5) Speaking at opening of Fetafrik, African Heritage Day, 6) With daughters Christine (l)and Michelle (rt) 7) Interview with French journalist Pierre Gault.

St. Ange


CNN's noted journalist Anita Mendiratta recently sited Seychelles Minister Alain St. Ange as an example of how to move tourism, trade, investment, understanding and opportunity forward. 



Mendiratta writes

"The global tourism community takes great pride in the ability of the sector to enhance the economic, social, environmental and ideological wellbeing of nations, enriching the lives of travelers and hosts alike. It brings people, policies and practices together, unlocking minds, ideas, and resources. And it provides countries with a powerful spirit of competitiveness, which may in fact be best realized through cooperation. Travel and tourism gets people, trade, investment, understanding and opportunity moving forward.

With close to 266 million people directly employed by the travel & tourism sector worldwide (equating to over 9% of all jobs worldwide), the responsibility to ensure that tourism ‘works’ is a widely shared one. Hundreds of thousands of business leaders carefully monitor metrics to ensure the ink stays black, the returns continue to be realised. And within governments, public sector players carefully navigate tourism development to ensure that growth is inclusive, sustainable, well planned, well intentioned, well thought through, for the greater wellbeing for all people of the destination be they involved in tourism or not."


Mendiratta questions:


With so much at stake, where does the role of oversight and optimization ultimately sit?

The goal: to reveal where the compass of tourism growth is pointing for destinations seeking meaningful, equitable growth through tourism economy development and advancement.




When it comes to tourism industry activity, it is the efforts of the private sector – the business community – that commands the greatest attention. The commercial operations of tourism accommodation, infrastructure operations, attractions, and supporting services are most able to enjoy the visibility and appreciation of onlookers for their contribution to tourism sector growth and advancement. The busyness is most often seen and heard through business.


Often unseen, and unappreciated, however, is the effort made by government to guide, nurture and path clear effective tourism sector development. At the head of the table when it comes to government-lead development of travel and tourism: the Minister of Tourism (also referred to as the Secretary of Tourism).


With economic, social, environmental and other crisis challenging the wellbeing of nations across the globe, the importance of the tourism economy has enjoyed a rise in awareness and credibility over the past decade. This understanding is fueled by nations recognising the ability of the tourism sector to help nations get people, programmes and promises of earnings back on their feet. As a result, the importance of the role of the Minister of Tourism has increased. As has its profile.

 Mendiratta questions:

But what exactly is the mandate of the government’s chief champion for tourism? And how do they turn the promise of enrichment into a working, long-term reality?


While different destinations will have slightly differing details in their mandates, essentially the role of the Minister of Tourism is grounded in the same principles: responsible, sustainable, inclusive, cooperative and equitable growth and development of the tourism sector and its resulting economy, executed for the benefit of all people of the destination, as well as the competitiveness of the nation in attracting visitors, investment, earnings and positive image.

Mendiratta: But how do they make it happen? 

Vision, creativity, leadership ability and agility are job requirements, as clearly revealed when examining the role of a Minister of Tourism through the reflections of one such leader. Minister of Tourism Alain St. Ange, Destination in focus: the Seychelles.


seychellesAn island nation in the Indian Ocean neighbouring Africa’s eastern coastline, while small in geographic size and remotely located, the Seychelles has become a destination with a reputation for ‘punching above its weight’. Its vital statistics clearly reflect the critical role of tourism, successful tourism, to its future growth and well-being:

Population: 88,000
GDP in 2013: USD 1.13billion           
% GDP from Tourism: 56.5% (compared to 9.5% globally)
Visitors in 2013: 265,000
Visitor Exports generated by Tourism: 37%
% Employment from Tourism: greater than 55%
Ranking in WEF Tourism Competitiveness (2013): #1 in Africa (#38 on global ranking)
% Total Investment going to Tourism: 25%
The Interview: The man behind the Seychelles Tourism Machine: Alain St Ange, Honourable Minister of Tourism.
How does he define the responsibility of tourism leadership that sits squarely on his shoulders?
In his own words:
“It is accepted by one and all in Seychelles that Tourism remains the pillar of the island's economy. As the Seychelles Minister responsible for Tourism my mandate remains to take the Government policy forward.
This also means remaining in touch with the industry players and with our people. The policy covers above all the duty to defend and protect the tourism industry, and to ensure that it is consolidated for the long term.
To achieve this I know that I need our people to be integrated in the tourism industry of our Seychelles. This is why the Government of Seychelles invited Seychelles to work in a united manner to claim back its tourism industry. This appeal has worked and today more Seychellois, than even before, are benefitting from their tourism industry.
Today, the situation is very different indeed as more informed travellers with higher expectations of their holiday experience, seek to get beneath the skin of the country they are visiting and to return home culturally enriched by the experience.
Whether we realise it or not, we are all being transformed by this dynamic and by what it bodes for our increasing interconnectedness, and for the terrain we must navigate in the future.
We are, I believe, all discovering that for our tourism to remain attractive to this new generation of clued-up, increasingly discerning globe-trotters we must exploit the wider set of our destination's attributes, digging into our respective cultures to lend travellers a fresh perspective on all that we have to offer.
This in turn, implies greater engagement with our populations whose support we need to take our tourism industry to the next level and who can find their livelihoods transformed in return as a result of this exciting new synergy.”
Central to the success of tourism destinations is making tourism an industry that all nationals are able to genuinely support, whether they work in the industry or not. Embedding the understanding around the value of the tourism economy is an essential basis of understanding for holistic support of the sector through all parts, and players, in the nation’s economy and society.
Why is Seychelles an example in this regard? As explained by the Hon. Minister of Tourism:
“I have always known that if I wanted to build awareness across Seychelles I needed to make the industry more relevant to all people of Seychelles. Tourism is so important for Seychelles that it needs the population at large to remain updated so that the importance of the industry is appreciated, and the relevance of the industry that remains the pillar of their economy is understood. This means that every single national must be continuously informed of what tourism does for them, why it matters to them.
This is not a behind the scenes job. The position of Minister of Tourism is not about sitting behind a desk. Because when visitor arrival numbers are down, when length of stay drops, the buck stops with you, when the yield from tourism is down, the buck also lands with you. A Tourism Minister must also be ready to be involved with local business interests, guiding local development, as well as international Bodies and Conferences to ensure the country remains as visible as possible and in so doing remain relevant in the world of tourism. Ministers of Tourism must work with passion and only passion. It cannot only be a position with a title.”
For many destinations, and their tourism leaders, it’s not only about a responsibility within borders. For many destinations, regional cooperation is vital to not just tourism growth, but survival. Creative approaches to sector advancement, including competition through cooperation, leveraging partnerships, eliminating barriers and stimulating year-round visitor activity, have become essential strategic levers for many destinations.
When reflecting on the tireless efforts made by the Seychelles in developing strong operating relationships across the African continent, Hon. Minister St Ange takes on an ‘abundance’ based approach:
“I believe that unity is strength. Developing regional partnerships can only grow the region's tourism cake. This is obvious even to the most naive and skeptical observers. No island can be an island on to itself. This is a policy of the past and a remedy for disaster.
A transformative aspect of today's brand of tourism we are following as Seychelles is cross-border approach as we are witnessing with the upcoming 2014 edition of the Carnaval International de Victoria, now co-hosted by Seychelles, La Reunion, Madagascar, Mayotte and South Africa KwaZulu Natal. This is a clear example of States which may once have considered themselves as rivals in tourism, coming together in an initiative to market, not only themselves but their region.
Another example of Seychelles playing its part is in the Indian Ocean Vanilla islands and the East3Route cross -border tourism investment initiative between Mozambique, Swaziland, South Africa and now Seychelles.
These kind of collaborations between neighbours and erstwhile rival states bears a clear message of the benefits of co-operation in the global marketplace and the potential for transforming lives across entire regions through joint tourism initiatives.
Today the world in which we live is changing very rapidly as the internet, social media and increased inter-connectivity between peoples at all levels of society is bringing about change at an unprecedented pace and intensity. There is practically no area of human endeavor that has remained untouched in this roller-coaster ride on the back of these ever-burgeoning technologies which create fantastic opportunities, as well as challenges in this brave new world we are entering.
As a classic example of a people-oriented industry, tourism, upon which many of our region's economies depend to a greater or lesser extent, continues to experience profound change, forcing us to re-evaluate our approach to what makes our respective destinations attractive to consumers, and which channels we use to get the message across in the ever-more-crowded, global market place. Less than two decades ago, Seychelles was very much relying on its sun, sea and sand ticket to attract visitors to our shores, even though it is widely accepted that we have the best in a sun, sea and sand holiday. Today we are all the stronger as a destination, and as the people of the Seychelles, because we our thinking smarter, and working smarter.”
One nation, one destination, one leader, one perspective. In any destination across the globe, the role of government is vital to the success of tourism sector growth, development and competiveness. Likewise, the role of tourism is for the unification of the people of the destination through economic, social, environmental and ideological advancement and identity.
- Minister Alain St. Ange

gollywood Garifuna Afro-Latino Entertainment, LLC recently annouced the launch of Gollywood.

Registered under International Class 041 for Cinema Studios, "Gollywood",  is an amalgamation of Garifuna and Hollywood, the center of the American film industry. The objective is to provide an active market, including Distribution and Marketing for Garifuna and Afro-Latino filmmakers beyond the Film Festival Circuit.  Unlike Hollywood, Gollywood does not exist as a physical place but across the Garifuna and Afro-Latino Diaspora, with its epicenter in New York City.The City of New York is home to the most innovative creators in the world. 


As the Cultural Capital of the World, New York City is privileged to be home to one of the original "Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangibles Heritage of Humanity. On May 18th, 2001, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's (UNESCO) proclaimed the Garifuna Language, Dance and Music as a "Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. The Garífuna Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage has enriched New York City's cultural landscape for over 190 years!


New York was home to the first known Black Theatre Troupe, The African Company organized by William Henry Brown in 1816. Brown also wrote and staged the first African American play, The Drama of King Shotaway in 1823, a historical drama based on the Black Caribs (Garifunas)  defense of the island of St. Vincent in 1795 against British colonization, led  by the Paramount Chief Joseph Chatoyer.


"It is fitting that "Gollywood" be located the Cultural Capital of the world, as we plan to participate in the fastest growing segment of the global cultural industries by creating empowering, engaging and culturally relevant Digital Garifuna and Afro-Latino content." said Jose Francisco Avila, Managing partner of Garifuna Afro-Latino Entertainment, LLC.

image056 mandelaThe passing of South Africa’s first democratically elected president, Nelson Mandela, in December 2013 sparked a global outpouring of grief. The world paused as we collectively reflected on the life of this phenomenal man and celebrated what he had achieved, not only for South Africa, but for mankind. Most of the places associated with his life’s journey teemed with visitors who dedicated private notes and flowers as tokens of respect and remembrance as South Africans and, indeed, the world tried to come to terms with the loss of the founding father of the nation,” Minister Van Schalkwyk said as he spoke today at an event at Drakenstein Correctional Centre (formerly Victor Verster Prison) in Cape Town – the last place where Nelson Mandela was held captive before he took his first steps to freedom on February 11, 1990.

South Africa’s Minister of Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, today launched “Madiba-inspired tourist attractions” – a travel map that encourages tourists from around the world to come to South Africa to walk in former president Nelson Mandela’s footsteps.

“To make it as easy as possible for people to personally experience Mandela’s story, we have developed the ‘Madiba-inspired tourist attractions’ map, which encapsulates the key points on his life’s journey,” Van Schalkwyk said.

Developed by South African Tourism in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the map highlights tourist sites as well as general places of interest in the four main provinces that defined Mandela’s life. These include the Eastern Cape, where he was born, grew up and attended Fort Hare University; Gauteng, where he worked as a human-rights lawyer and became instrumental in South Africa’s political struggle; KwaZulu-Natal, where he was captured, and the Western Cape, where he was imprisoned and ultimately freed.

Since Mandela’s release from prison in February 1990, a number of world-class museums, monuments and precincts have been developed to bring his story to life and to cater for the demand to better understand South Africa’s history.

The “Madiba-inspired tourist attractions” map includes well-known attractions such as the UNESCO world heritage site Robben Island, where Mandela was imprisoned, and Mandela’s house on Vilakazi Street in Soweto, which is the only street in the world to have had two Nobel peace prize winners, Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, as residents. It also features some of the lesser-known attractions, such as the Kliptown open-air museum, also in Soweto, which marks the spot where the Freedom Charter was adopted by the Congress of the People, as well as the Nelson Mandela youth and heritage center in Mandela’s childhood home, Qunu, where he was of course buried as well.

mandela“Mandela’s integrity and spirit of hope, reconciliation and love have touched the lives of millions of people. This year, we celebrate 20 years of democracy and freedom, and we look forward to welcoming many tourists from around the world to share the South African story and Mandela’s legacy with us. Not only was Nelson Mandela an incredible man and leader, but he remains a truly global icon. Since 1994, visitors from all corners of the globe have come to South Africa to seek out the places that shaped his remarkable life. His name alone put South Africa on the map; today, we are returning the favor in a literal sense.”

In 1993, the year before Nelson Mandela became South Africa’s first democratically elected president, South Africa had 3.4 million international arrivals. In 2012, South Africa welcomed 13.5 million people to the country, of whom close to 9.2 million were tourists (people who spent one or more nights here).

“The numbers aside, though, what has perhaps been the greatest legacy for tourism is that Mandela has encouraged people from all corners of the globe to come and experience South Africa for themselves. It is thanks to his vision and principles that our tourism industry has grown as much as it has since our first democratic elections 20 years ago when he was elected president of South Africa,” Van Schalkwyk added.

“It is also thanks to him that the world now knows South Africa for more than just our incredible wildlife, amazing scenic beauty and excellent value for money. Since 1994, the world has come to realize that what really sets this country apart is Mandela’s people, whose warmth and hospitality leave all who visit us touched by the ‘Madiba magic,’” the Minister concluded.

The “Madiba-inspired tourist attractions” map has been made available to trade partners in South Africa and around the world to make it as easy as possible to package Madiba-inspired itineraries. The map is also available online at 

Source: ATQ News

download wtmThe latest forecasts for Africa’s rapidly growing travel and tourism industry will be unveiled at the World Travel Market (WTM) Africa Vision Conference - Cape Town.

The WTM Vision Conference – Cape Town, which takes place during the inaugural WTM Africa on Friday 2 May, will also debate the crucial impact of mobile on the tourism industry and showcase the best mobile apps and case studies.

 As with the other four WTM Vision Conferences around the globe, it will feature up-to-the-minute market intelligence from Euromonitor International, a leading research specialist with an extensive network of strategic analysts in 80 countries. Paz Casal, Africa Research Manager at Euromonitor International, will present the Travel Industry Forecast Review 2014, looking at how the recovery in the global economy will affect the continent.

 According to the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, demand for international tourism in 2013 was strongest for destinations in Africa (+6%), as well as Asia and the Pacific (+6%). Africa attracted three million additional arrivals, reaching a new record of 56 million, reflecting the on-going rebound in North Africa (+6%) and the sustained growth of Sub-Saharan destinations (+5%).

2014 regional prospects are strongest for Asia and the Pacific (+5% to +6%) and Africa (+4% to +6%). Casal will investigate trends such as Mandela pilgrimage tourism, as well as online and mobile developments which enable consumers to bypass traditional distribution methods.

 “With international hotel chains buying up regional players, Sub-Saharan Africa holds the last piece of the puzzle in the search for long-term sustainable growth,” said Paz Casal.  The second session at WTM Vision Conference – Cape Town will be from Digital Tourism Think Tank, an initiative which aims to provide thought leadership to the tourism industry in digital marketing best practice.  

Called ‘Mobile is here to stay – 2014 Goes Mobile’, the session will present global and African case studies of tourism organisations and businesses which have successfully incorporated mobile into their digital marketing.

Think Tank experts will showcase the best apps to demonstrate how mobile strategies can shape and add value to the overall tourism experience.  WTM, Conference and Seminar Manager, Charlotte Sutton, who will introduce the event, said, “The inaugural WTM Vision Conference – Cape Town is a must attend event for all WTM Africa participants, as it will offer the latest  information and insight into the African travel and tourism market.”

WTM Africa Vision Conference takes place between 10am – 12pm on Friday 2 May.

WTM Vision Cape Town is the third in a series of six WTM Vision Conferences taking place across the globe before World Travel Market in November (Monday 3 – Thursday 6) at ExCeL– London.The first is in Moscow on 9 April, followed by Sao Paulo on 24 April. The fourth in the series is Dubai on 6 May, the fifth takes place in Shanghai on 8 May. The final event is in Rimini on 9 October.

WTM Africa will be one of three co-located travel industry events at the Cape Town International Conference Centre (CTICC) that form Africa Travel Week 2014. The others will include IBTM Africa (Incentive, Business Travel & Meetings) and ILTM Africa (International Luxury Travel Market) which will take place from 28-30 April.

 Africa Travel Week are:

·         ILTM Africa 28 – 30 April 2014

·         IBTM Africa 28 – 30 April 2014

·         WTM Africa 2 – 3 May 2014

For further information on WTM Africa please visit For more information on each of the Africa Travel Week events, please visit

To register for this event please visit

Yann Ranaivo reports in this article for Delaware's The News Journal that Park to be named in his honor in Bob Marley's hometown:

Wilmington City Council President Theo Gregory is proposing an ordinance that would rename the Tatnall Playground to “One Love Park.” The park, located at 24th and Tatnall streets, would be named in honor of Marley’s famous song.

one-love-secondaryDuring the mid-1960s, the reggae icon lived for a time at 2313 Tatnall St. The house belonged to Marley’s mother, Cedella Booker, who ran a Jamaican music shop on Market Street until the late 1970s.

Gregory said he hopes the renaming sends a positive message to a community that has had to deal with shootings and other crimes. “It’s not a cure all, but you do little things to try to promote a positive in the community,” he said. The proposed ordinance is being co-sponsored by council members Nnambdi Chukwuocha and Trippi Congo.

Sen. Margaret Rose Henry, D-Wilmington, also plans to ask the General Assembly to approve a historical marker for the playground. She said timing for her effort depends on when City Council approves Gregory’s proposal and an unveiling ceremony occurs.

“The fact that [Marley] was in Delaware is historic, and I want people to know that,” Henry said. The ordinance is slated to go before the city’s Planning Commission on Tuesday. The renaming would add to a list of activities and properties in Wilmington that honor Marley and his ties to the city.

The Peoples Festival, which celebrates Marley’s music and message, is held annually in Wilmington. Across the street from the Tatnall playground, a home sits above a mural and stairs painted in red, yellow and green. The mural includes a painting of Marley singing and playing a guitar. Next to him, a sentence on the mural says “I feel so good in my neighborhood.”

Above the house’s entrance, reads “Governor General.”

Beryl Jackson, who lives at the house on the corner of Tatnall and 24th and a native of Jamaica, said she hopes the renaming causes more people to come out to the park. “It would be a great idea,” she said. “It would be something for the neighborhood to enjoy.”

Ulysses McManus, who has lived in the area his entire life, said “One Love” has always been his favorite Marley song because it came out when he served in Vietnam. McManus, 68, said he recalls seeing Marley on the street and in the park. McManus said Marley, who began achieving fame in the early 1960s when he lived in Wilmington. “He was already there,” McManus said, “but around the neighborhood, he was just Bob.”

Source: Repeating Island

For the original report go to

lamyThe protection of children from all forms of exploitation, the fight against trafficking, anti-poaching and accessible tourism for all are among the work priorities defined by the newly formed World Committee on Tourism Ethics (WCTE). The committee recently met at UNWTO headquarters to identify the major challenges facing responsible tourism and define its Action Plan for the coming four years.

Under the chairmanship of Pascal Lamy (former Director-General of World Trade Organization – WTO), the World Committee on Tourism Ethics met for the first time in its new constitution as appointed by the UNWTO General Assembly in August 2013.

(Photo) World Committee on Tourism Ethics Chiar Pascal Lamy (center) at a press conference with Haiti’s Minister of Commerce, Mr Wilson Laleau (right), and Hait’s Ambassador to the WTO, Mr Pierre-André Dunbar, in Port au Prince, Haiti.

“The World Committee on Tourism Ethics is not destined to solve major political and economic issues at the global level; it will be a useful instrument in interpreting a frontier area, which is tourism ethics, by binding people together in an operational way”, said Pascal Lamy.

“One billion tourists crossing international borders every year can mean one billion opportunities but also one billion catastrophes; it is up to us to decide. Governments, companies and tourists themselves need to ensure tourism works as a force of good and I am convinced that the new Committee on Tourism Ethics will assist greatly in this endeavor”, said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai.

The Action Plan of the Committee for the coming four years will focus on:

  • · the exploitation of children in all its forms;
  • · trafficking;
  • · poaching and the illegal trading of wildlife;
  • · accessible tourism for all;
  • promotion of fair models of all inclusive holidays; and
  • · unfounded ratings on travel portals which may impact the reputation of companies  and destinations

The World Committee on Tourism Ethics is an impartial body responsible for interpreting, applying and evaluating the provisions of the the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism.


The UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism (GCET) is a set of principles designed to guide the development of tourism in a way that maximizes the socio-economic benefits of the sector, while minimizing any negative impacts. It was adopted in 1999 by the UNWTO General Assembly and endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly in 2001.

The World Committee on Tourism Ethics, a subsidiary organ of the UNWTO General Assembly, reports directly to the Assembly. Members are elected in their personal capacities and not as officials of governments or representatives of their countries.

Members: Mr. I Gede Ardika (Former Minister of Tourism of Indonesia), Mr. Yoshiaki Hompo (Former Commissioner of Japan Tourism Agency), Ms. Fiona Jeffery (Former Chair of the World Travel Market), Mr. Khelil Lajmi (Former Minister of Tourism of Tunisia), Mr. Jean Marc Mignon (President, International Organisation for Social Tourism), Ms. Tanja Mihalic (Head of Institute of Tourism, University of Ljubljana), Mr. Ron Oswald (General Secretary, International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers´ Association), Mr. Eugenio Yunis (Executive Vice President, Federation of Tourism Enterprises of Chile); alternate members: Mr. Hiran Cooray (Chairman, Jetwing), Ms. Suzy Hatough (Director of Dar Al-Diafa for Tourism Human Resources Development Consultancy) and Ms. Gunnur Ozalp (Secretary-General, Association of Turkish Travel Agents).

Ethiopian Airlines, the fastest growing and most profitable airline in Africa, is pleased to announce that it has finalized preparations to start four weekly flights to Vienna, Austria starting 2 June 2014.

eTHIOPIAN-FLYVienna is the political capital and the economic hub of Austria. The city is a major diplomatic centre and seat of United Nations agencies such as the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

Ethiopian flights to Vienna will bring the total number of its international destinations across five continents to 80. The city will mark the 9th European city served by the airline. Thru commercial cooperation with Austrian Airlines, a fellow Star Alliance member with strong network in Central Europe, Ethiopian aims to provide seamless and convenient connectivity options for travelers between Africa and European cities such Prague, Bratislava, Warsaw, Budapest, and Bucharest, subject to regulatory approval.

Flight Days From To Departs Arrives
ET724 MON/WED/THU/SAT Addis Ababa Vienna 00:20 06:10
ET725 MON/WED/THU/SAT Vienna Addis Ababa 23:10 07:05

“We are very happy to spread our wings to Vienna, which is one of the most popular convention and conference centers in Europe. In addition to serving the growing travel needs between Vienna and Africa, we will be able to offer efficient connections between Africa and Central/Eastern Europe in cooperation with our Star Alliance partner, Austrian Airlines. Europe, which is still the largest trading partner of Africa, is an important region for us”, said CEO Tewolde Gebremariam.

The new flights to Vienna are scheduled with a view to provide to Ethiopian customers convenient connections, with minimum layover in Addis Ababa, to 48 African destinations.

Ethiopian is a global Pan-African carrier currently serving 79 international destinations across 5 continents with over 200 daily flights and using the latest technology aircraft such as the B777s and B787s.

Source: ATQ News


When, in April 2013, President Goodluck Jonathan announced the appointment of Mrs Sally Uwechue-Mbanefo, an accomplished banker and a top private sector player as the new Director-General, Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), the tourism stakeholders and practitioners were gripped by a cold. The cold emanated from the fact that the erstwhile director general of the corporation, Chief Olusegun Runsewe, was not only perceived to be doing well by the template operating then, but he was in far away Dubai, UAE, doing what he knows best for Nigeria, coupled with the fact that he was just two years four months into his second term tenure of four years!

The image of Chief Runsewe, which loomed large over the sector with the impression of being the best performing director-general and the fact that the newly appointed Mrs Mbanefo was unknown in the tourism sector, readily prepared a negative mindset against her among the stakeholders and particularly the tourism media, over which the former director-general seemed to have wielded a lot of influence.

ntdc directorMrs Mbanefo’s  silence in the first eight weeks of her appointment did not help matters, as this seemed to have jelled with the growing fears that she could not make any impact not to talk about performing well and better than her predecessor in office. Reinforcing this were some unfounded tales of missing money  in the NTDC,  this is an entity which her predecessor used to  constantly hammered into the ears of the public  that it  suffered from paucity of fund, thereby  making people to wonder where else could such a huge money come from within eight weeks of vacating a post which the new occupant is being alleged to have embezzled!


However, the tide of events changed exactly in the third month when Mrs Mbanefo called a stakeholders’ summit in Victoria Island, Lagos,  an event she used her goodwill in the private sector to get   sponsors  for without any financial implication for the NTDC  where she unfolded her plans, vision and action. At the Tourism Stakeholder Summit held at the Events Centre, Kofo Abayomi , Victoria Island, with the theme: “Rebranding the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation,“ Mrs Mbanefo, leveraging on her experience in the private sector, opened up what was up her sleeves for the sector. “Tourism is a serious business  which must be approached with all sincerity of purpose, diligence of mind and optimal clarity  for the betterment of the nation’s economy  and not just for its glamour, noise  and paparazzi intent I don’t want to play to the gallery as my mission, according to the President Goodluck Jonathan who appointed me, is to do all things  humanly possible  to link the sector with the mainstream of the economy, not by making noise on the pages of newspapers but by ensuring there is a strong connect between NTDC  and the private sector.” She revealed to the guests and tourism stakeholders that she had been silent for the past weeks because “For the sector to grow and align itself perfectly with  the mainstream of the economy   for the benefits of the stakeholders and practitioners, there should be a paradigm shift from the ways NTDC  as an entity used to conduct business and interact with the private sector  and this could only be done if the corporation itself  is reinvented and restructured in line with contemporary dictates and demands . This is what I have been doing as the structure I met on ground cannot fast track the new template of the moment. Then, it was business as usual but now it is business unusual. As they say charity begins at home.  I know the fact that driving a vision successfully is not a loner’s efforts but a collective endeavour of all in the corporation who must key into to the vision. But we thank God. We have repositioned NTDC and honed the work force thoroughly well to service the sector and your aspiration.”

image007She revealed that “it is now a new NTDC where the staff are assured of future growth with a new well defined salary structure, conducive atmosphere, two staff buses to ease transportation in Lagos and Abuja offices.” She declared: “I have to declare to all that I will use whatever time I have as the DG NTDC to grow Domestic Tourism. This is the fundamental and the bedrock for tourism to grow in this country. We must first of all appreciate, promote, harness and enhance the tourism gifts, blessing and opportunities which abound in Nigeria by ourselves before calling others to come and see.” Mrs Mbanefo, in a sequential order, reeled out her vision of promoting domestic tourism as contained in her booklet with the theme “Rebuilding the NTDC and Growing the Tourism Value Chain for Revenue Generation and Job Creation.” She efficiently encapsulated the totality of her vision on domestic tourism, hinging it on the three pillars, viz rebuilding the NTDC which she has done  and is ongoing via retuning the staff and the environment for the business unusual : growing the tourism value chain, which she has been doing  and which was demonstrated on that day when she signed MOU with five  strategic partners, Heritage bank, Visa Incorporated, Arik Air, ABC transport and Reddington Hospital,  on the day of the Summit in Lagos and Re – inventing the Tourism Sector which involved introducing programmes that change how value is created, marketed, delivered and financed.

And in the last six months, Mrs Mbanefo has been marking the turf in accordance to her programme and projection by distinguishing herself not as a noise maker but a doer who is not taking Nigerian for a ride through newspaper tourism propaganda and sloganeering. Desirous of pulling her vision through, she had a breakfast meeting with the media in Lagos where she craved its indulgence in supporting her as “Nigeria has more fascinating stories to tell. And no one can tell it better than the Nigerian journalists themselves.” Mrs Mbanefo revealed that she would first of all take a trip to the six geo political zones to see, visit, authenticate and assess some notable tourism sites for development and enhancement. She told the journalists: “I love our participation in tourism fairs and trademarks but I am assuring you that NTDC will not just participate in international shows and trade fairs just for the love of it but we will certainly attend those in which Nigeria has a lot to gain and benefit. “We must be sure of what we are calling and inviting people to see. We must be able to know, firsthand, what and what need to be done in making the sites presentable and worthwhile.” To her, for domestic tourism to grow,  all the strategic partners must be involved and wired into the vision, and in line with this, she also had a dialogue over breakfast with airline operators and travel agencies, where she sold her domestic tourism vision, canvassed their understanding and charged them to be patriotic in their operations. “As the nerve centre of the tourism sector, you have to redefine your strategy bearing in mind the development and promotion of domestic tourism. You are the ultimate beneficiaries of domestic tourism. The wellbeing of domestic tourism is the wellbeing of your cash in the bank.  As domestic operations blossom, your coast of operation and cash flow.”

Living up to her words, she first of all ensured a proper rebuilding of the NTDC, laundered its work force and ensured a positive change of their mindset from business as usual to business unusual and she commenced her visit to the six-geopolitical tourism zones. According to her: “We cannot promote domestic tourism without ascertaining and having a heart-to-heart contact with the various sites we would be inviting foreigners to visit. This is an authentication trip which must be undertaken for authentication, certification and verification of facilities there in.” Mrs Mbanefo,  thus, tied her apron, revved her tour engine and  commenced the tour of  Lagos,  Kaduna, Kano, Taraba, Benue, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Ondo, Osun, Ogun, Rivers, not only visiting the tourism sites in these states, but dialoguing with  major stakeholders therein preaching to them the gospel according to domestic tourism. These peregrination have taken her to see the Mare Festival and Idanre Hills in Ondo, Tinapa in Cross Rivers, Oodua Festival in Ile Ife, the Mambilla Plateau in Taraba, 9999 Choristers in Akwa Ibom, Olumo Rock in Ogun State, first oil well site in Oloibiri, Bayelsa, the royal gate in Kaduna, the museum and other places in Lagos, and a lovely cruising on River Benue. All these were never ventured into by any of her predecessors within the space of time and logistic. For instance, in the South-West, she did not only have a heart-to-heart discussion with Otunba Gani Adams, the cultural tourism ambassador of that region, in his office, but attended the Oodua Festival, held in Ile-Ife, where the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade  Sijuwade not only specially  applauded  her passion and prayed for her, but commended her for being the first director-general of Tourism who knows what to do and doing it well.

The same episode played itself out when she was the special guest of honour at the launching of the Niger Delta Slave Route in Port-Harcourt, an event put together by the Centre for Peace Tourism Arts and Culture, CEPTAC, where the President of the centre, Chief Mike Amachree, described her as “the light in the dark tunnels of tourism.” Her carriage and exhibition of a firm grasp of the tourism industry, and what the sector needed to grow, have endeared her to major economic and professional groups in Nigeria which have either invited or dignified her as a speaker or special guest of honour at events and ceremonies. And in any of these, Mrs Mbanefo has given a very good account of herself and utilised the opportunities to tell the audience why domestic tourism should be it . Mrs Mbanefo, a Barrister-at-Law and a hard core player in the private sector, displayed her intelligence and understanding of the tourism sector as a speaker at an event organised by the Nigerian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Lagos, last year, where she was given a standing ovation after her delivery. She impressed the gathering of Nigerian economic players so well that Chief Goodie Ibru, the then president who was a former president, Federation of Tourism Association in Nigeria, FTAN,   described her as an “asset not only to the sector but  to the nation.”

The management and staff of City People Magazine could not hide their feeling after she honoured their invitation and delivered a paper on: “Fashion and Tourism.’’ They acknowledged her sound mind,   solid understanding of the sector and her agrarian passion at promoting domestic tourism. Mrs Mbanefo has also built bridges of constructive engagement with the Federal Road Safety Commission, the Central Bank, Nigeria Immigration Service, Nigeria Football Federation, Nigeria Turkish Chambers of Commerce and Industry and other  sectoral organs whose business cuts cross the tourism sector. Even the football fans in Nigeria commended the NTDC for being the only Federal Government parastatal which welcomed the Golden Eaglets with a ceremony at the Nnamidi Azikwe International Airport last year after their victory. Her foreign engagements have also been gauged within the location of necessity and not formality, as promised. It is on record that she did not only perform well at her first foreign engagement, the World Travel Market, WTM, London, held in November last year, but her organisational ability and conduct impressed the Nigeria High Commissioner, Dr Talatu Tafida, who participated at the fair for the first time, in praising her: “I must commend the director-general for her robust sense of duty and responsibility by inviting Nigerians who live here to participate at this market. This is the first time I am being formally invited.

This is a break from the past behaviour of your predecessor when I will just be informed that Nigeria was here. This is commendable. Kindly keep it up.” Though, Nigeria was unable to participate at the FITUR Spain, Mrs Mbanefo said: “Like I have said, many times, our participation in the foreign travel market will be determined by first, the inherent benefit of such a show and priority on available fund. You see, at WTM, London, Nigeria was able to sign fruitful MOUs and we are talking with the World Bank officials we met there on funding of certain projects. We are desirous of ITB Berlin because we are in contact with some agencies and countries that are eager to talk business with us.” The six months or half year performance of Mrs Sally Mbanefo has succinctly told all that you don’t judge a woman with her looks or appearance but rather with what she has to offer and the way and manner she goes about it.

This lady has confirmed that she has a vision for the sector. She has affirmed that she can drive the vision. She has continued displaying that it is all about physical beauty alone but about beauty of brain, guts and patriotic zealotry to deliver beyond the expectation of the cynics. According to Mr Ayo Olumoko, CEO, IFOGEM: “The director-general has been sequentially implementing her programmes and being religious about driving domestic tourism. I have watched her at close quarters, particularly how she packaged Nigeria’s participation at the WTM. I have also been following her travel all over Nigeria, preaching her gospel of domestic tourism. I have also been impressed by her strident efforts at carrying stakeholders along and informed. These are pointers to the fact that she will perform well in the subsequent months or years provided there is the right political backing and will.”

(Top Photo) The Director General, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) Mrs. Sally Mbanefo meets with His Excellency, Governor of Benue State, Dr. Gabriel Torwua Suswam during a courtesy visit to Government House recently in Makurdi, Benue State.

Source: ATQ Magazine,-dg,-ntdc-six-months-after-appointment.html



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