Cousin Island warden features in UNWTO’s #MyAfrica Campaign |21 May 2021
As part of a social media campaign by UNWTO, Christopher Mahoune, a senior warden on Cousin Island, shared his personal story on his involvement with tourism in order to boost Africa’s potential as a vibrant and diverse tourist destination.
The UNWTO campaign dubbed #MyAfrica seeks to showcase the power of tourism through the personal stories of inspirational people working in the tourism sector in Africa by gathering these stories, learning from them and sharing them with the world.
“African countries have demonstrated a commendable determination in making tourism a strong ally of sustainable growth for millions in the region. Now is time for them to speak up and share the stories that showcase the best of Africa as a world-class tourist destination,” says Zurab Pololikashvili, UNWTO secretary-general. “Through listening to first-hand stories, we learn from their experiences and create a platform to discover Africa through a human angle,” UNWTO says of the campaign.
Christopher is a veteran of Cousin Island. He joined the warden team on the island straight from the Seychelles Maritime Academy, and rose to the position of senior warden. His work on Cousin revolves around the island's ecotourism programme, which is one of the oldest in Seychelles having begun in the 1970s. This involves transfer of guests onto and off the island, conducting them on a tour of the nature reserve using two languages – English and French, and ensuring their safety and comfort while on the island.
Outside of ecotourism, Christopher has been involved in the conservation programme as well as in mentoring younger Seychellois wardens and students who are on internship. He is also an incurable shutter bug and has taken hundreds of photos of the island, which are used for education and marketing.
Why do you choose to work in tourism or in field related to tourism?
I have always been passionate about the wildlife of Seychelles. Locally I participated in a lot of environmental activities and it was always a pleasure to share and educate others about why it is important to protect our heritage. Growing up I felt like I needed a bigger stage and a bigger crowd to showcase the beauty that is Seychelles. So I chose to work in a field related to tourism and over the past 10 years I have guided thousands of people from all over the world educating them about the importance of conservation and ecotourism.
How has tourism helped you to grow?
Working in tourism all these years definitely helped me grow. It helped me gain more confidence in what I preach. I used to be very conservative and this line of work helped me to become more open and more of a people person. It has helped me to understand different cultures and also to appreciate mine even more.
In 3 words describe Africa as a diverse tourist destination.
If I would describe Africa as a diverse tourist destination, for me it's a ‘Unique Cultural Experience’.