Ministry, SSTF discuss ways to make Seychelles sustainable tourism champion |19 February 2020
Following the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Ministry of Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine and the Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Foundation (SSTF) in October last year, a first meeting was held at Botanical House last week to discuss the way forward in making Seychelles a champion in sustainable tourism.
The meet aimed to kick-start discussions on the numerous ways and avenues for collaboration between the private sector and government to make Seychelles an international best practice example for sustainable tourism through the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) Destination Certification for Seychelles in 2022.
The Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine, Didier Dogley, started off the meet by stating his excitement at the opportunity to work with other partners towards a more sustainable tourism industry in future.
He reiterated the ministry’s efforts towards sustainability, referring to the commissioning of the capacity study currently being undertaken as well as the partnership between the ministry and the SSTF.
“Seychelles has got a new partner non-governmental organisation (NGO) that is working on tourism, in particular sustainable tourism and responsible tourism which is the kind of tourism that we would like to promote and develop in Seychelles. Personally, I have always enjoyed working with other partners, not only in the private sector but also the NGOs, coming from an environment where there is a multitude of NGOs so for me it is natural working with NGOs,” he said.
“We are very happy to have the foundation to work with and I think there is a lot of good work being done right now, and we would like to discuss with you to identify the exact areas and projects on which we can collaborate,” Minister Dogley stated.
Among the main points of discussion were adopting a strategic approach moving towards GSTC destination certification for Seychelles in 2022, collaboration for implementing the tourism sector strategy and increasing the number of Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Label certified businesses.
Founder of SSTF, Daniella Alis-Payet, noted the need for all stakeholders to work together collaboratively towards the vision, noting education and awareness as instrumental for both locals and visitors alike.
“We need to not only find ways to educate the visitors to encourage them to take part in what we as a country hope to achieve, but also to bring our population and the locals to act accordingly so that visitors will also respect our policies in place towards better waste management, conservation and of course making the local community a bigger part of our tourism industry,” she said.
She went on to note that the local community also has a role to play in helping Seychelles achieve the destination certification, encouraging new ventures and new ways of contributing sustainably towards the industry.
“I think SSTF being able to work with government, tourism stakeholders, NGOs and academia, I think we are a platform where we can bring everybody together, try to get funding, put projects and initiatives together and from there, I think there is a better chance for Seychelles to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we have 17 goals, I think we can all work in putting everybody concerned together, there is a big chance Seychelles can lead the way in sustainable tourism,” she added.
Increasing the number of STL certified businesses is a priority for both the ministry and SSTF who are thinking up novel ways to encourage business owners to green their businesses.
SSTF consultant Diana Koerner noted initiatives to be introduced throughout the year, in an effort to get all parties on board.
“So, together with the department of tourism and the Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association (SHTA), and the Seychelles Tourism Board (STB), our foundation launched the ‘Pristine Seychelles’ campaign, two years ago in 2018, and this is an approach of the whole tourism industry to raise awareness of sustainable tourism. The aim is not only to promote good practices among tourists so they know how to behave respectfully, how to find eco-tourism operators, add artisans and local elements to their travel but also for businesses to showcase their practices,” she said.
“One of the activities planned for this year is a sustainability award and we already had one in 2018, so this will be the second one in partnership with SHTA. We will actually launch a call for businesses to showcase their best practices so it is an incentive to reward their efforts. This year there will be a special edition for the small operators, because often, the larger ones have it easier so we want to have a second category for the small ones,” she concluded.