Alainwas the former Seychelles Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports & Marine. He resigned from his Ministerial position in December 2016 to run for the position of Secretary General of the UNWTO but his candidacy was abruptly pulled out of the race by the Seychelles Government only two days before the elections following demands, if not outright blackmail by the African Union. The letter issued by the African Union threatened serious economic sanctions on the islands if they did not revoke their candidacy for the prestigious role of Secretary General. "A decision of the African Union that is against all basic human rights and the sovereignty of the island state," said who was humiliated at the peak of his tourism career following this unexpected turn of events.
Vice President Vincent Meriton of Seychelles called Alain, who was already in Madrid for the UNWTO elections with his friends and family, to inform him that Seychelles had bowed to the pressure of the African Union. It is today clear that the authenticity of the infamous letter is questionable, and steps are being taken to investigate this matter.
"Africa cannot progress with such a dictatorial attitude, and the World Institutions cannot condone such draconian actions," Alainsaid as he left Madrid empty-handed to return to Seychelles on 14th May.
Alainreceiving the infamous phone call from Vincent Meriton, the Vice President of Seychelles
Not one to be easily deterred, Alainhas now registered his own Tourism Consultancy Business offering PR and visibility to tourism organisations and destinations, as well as his vast expertise in the development of tourism.
His Saint Ange Tourism Report will be weekly and will touch the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands, the countries surrounding the Indian Ocean, and global tourism matters as and when necessary.
The Report will be shared with the Business Community in Seychelles, to the tourism professionals from around the world, and it will be picked up by important news agencies which will ensure a very wide global distribution.
Welcome to Issue #1
BIRD ISLAND SEYCHELLES
Alain St.Ange pictured with Guy Savy, the owner of Bird Island
Two weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to be on Bird Island in time to witness the breath-taking sight of millions of Sooty Terns flooding in to lay their speckled eggs, an annual spectacle few are able to behold. Bird Island is expecting some two million birds this year to land and nest on the part of the island reserved as the ‘Bird Colony’. The progressive landing of these birds in the period of June to August every year is indeed an impressive sight, and oftentimes may be a deafening experience. This is, without a doubt, something we should all endeavour to strike off our bucket lists.
News from Bird Island confirm that the Sooty Terns are already laying.
Alainwitnessing the arrival of thousands of Sooty Terns
HOTEL L’ARCHIPEL OF PRASLIN IN THE SEYCHELLES
Louis D’Offay’s ‘home grown’ beachside hotel on Praslin Island has been termed the hotel of choice by new Tour Operators promoting the Seychelles. Louis D’Offay remains one of the respected hoteliers of the Seychelles, and his hotel enjoys an incredible beach front location adjacent to the popular Cote D’Or Beach.
Cuisine at L’Archipel has remained a strong point of the family run hotel and the personal attention to detail by Louis D’Offay, the owner himself, continues to pay dividends. Lucas D’Offay is today looking at day to day management of the property and Eddie D’Offay is responsible for all the Marketing and Sales.
Hotel L’Archipel has just Celebrated its 30th Anniversary. It welcomed its first guest on the 11th of April 1987. The hotel has since become a home away from home for leisure travellers and their numerous repeat guests from around the world. Since April 1987, it has maintained its status as one of the top recommended hotels on Praslin, even in the face of increased competition.
Alainand Louis D’Offay
UNESCO HONOURS PRESIDENT MICHEL & SEYCHELLES IN A CEREMONY TO RECOGNISE 8 NATIONS AS GLOBAL CHAMPIONS OF OCEAN SCIENCE
Former President James Michel of Seychelles
On Wednesday 7th June Seychelles was amongst eight countries and organizations honoured for their contributions to global ocean science by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC) at the UN Ocean Conference in New York in a ceremony called ‘Oceans 8’.
The Republic of Seychelles and the leadership of former President of Seychelles, James Alix Michel, was recognized as an ‘Ocean’s 8 Champion’ for developing an innovative debt swap scheme that has enabled this small island developing nation to finance local ocean science and climate resilience programmes.
Former President Michel said he hopes this high-level recognition will help to highlight the benefits of applying innovative financing solutions to support ocean science activities around the world.
“It is a great honour for Seychelles to be recognized by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO for our work for this gives us an international platform to show the world an innovative model for financing ocean science and conservation work,” he said ina videomessagefrom his office in Seychelles, presented at the ceremony.
The Director General of UNESCO, Mrs. Irina Bokova, presented the certificate of honour to the Vice-President of the Republic of Seychelles, Vincent Meriton, who was present during the ceremony and accepted the recognition on behalf of former President Michel and on behalf of the Government and people of Seychelles,
“President Michel has championed the Blue Economy ever since its inception and I think it is only fitting that he and the Republic of Seychelles, should also partake in this celebration. I should also mention that without the support of our international partners; The Nature Conservancy, the Global Island Partnership (GLISPA) and the Commonwealth, we would not have reached where we are,” said Vice-President Meriton after receiving the UNESCO recognition.
The ‘Ocean’s 8’ ceremony honouring the champions of ocean science was also supported by the United Nations General Assembly, the UN Environment, Sky TV’s Sky Ocean Rescue Campaign, and the Governments of Iceland and Peru.
CARANABEACH HOTEL’S LORIZON RESTAURANT NOMINATED IN WORLD LUXURY RESTAURANT AWARDS 2017
Lorizon, named after the Creole word for ‘horizon’ on account of the restaurant’s uninterrupted view of the Indian Ocean, has been nominated in the World Luxury Restaurant Awards, CaranaBeach Director, Alan Mason, has announced proudly.
The awards, which seek to inspire excellence and ignite competition in the luxury restaurant industry, enable fine-dining outlets from across the world to compete across 78 categories. The selection criteria for nomination is based on three primary factors: interior design, the quality and presentation of the cuisine, and a reputation for excellent service and positive reviews.
The nominees will then be put to the vote by guests and industry professionals to select the winners, which will be announced at a gala ceremony at the JW Marriott Hanoi in Vietnam on the 22nd July.
Lorizon has also earned a reputation for its exquisitely presented desserts, which include a deconstructed lemon meringue tart, an Eton “messed up” cake based on the British classic, and its famous Golden Gaytime, a combination of butterscotch and vanilla ice creams with chocolate and honeycomb.
“It’s exciting for Lorizon to be in the running for such prestigious international recognition,” Mason said, “Our congratulations go to Group Executive Chef Darren Roberts and his excellent team for establishing the restaurant’s credentials from the outset with their unique creations.”
SEYCHELLES WITH A TOUCH OF AUTHENTIC ISLAND LIFE UNDER A TRADITIONAL BOAT SHED IN THE VILLAGE OF DENIS ISLAND
Village Boat Shed on Denis Island
Creole themed nights are not a unique notion for Seychelles and many hotels stage such events on a weekly basis, but Denis Island has now launched their own with a playful twist; they are hosting their Creole Nights in the village ‘boat shed’, a charming old building which has been recently refurbished and cleverly repurposed.
‘Boat sheds’ such as this one form part of the unique culture of Seychelles and are traditionally used as a meeting place for discussions and oftentimes for a heated round of dominos. Around Mahé, Praslin and La Digue, many of these beachside sheds have long disappeared, but the owners of Denis Island have not only revamped theirs but have also found a unique way of repurposing it.
Denis Island is part of the ‘one island – one hotel’ concept and is reputed to be rather exclusive with its 25 villas and well over 100 staff caring for their guests. This property is managed as a sustainable tourism establishment; it enjoys the luxury of a working farm with fresh produce making them mostly self-sufficient. The island is close to the drop-off thus also providing easy access to fresh fish and great big game fishing opportunities.
One night a week the Island’s guests are invited to the village to enjoy a special Creole Night where Francois Hoareau heads a team of Seychellois to put on display an elaborate selection of authentic Seychellois Creole dishes, including a roasted suckling pig. With a bon fire on the beach and the magic of a well-lit moon, guests meet and enjoy a special evening in the company of the island owners, Kathy and Micky Mason.
Denis Island suckling pig for Creole Night
SEYCHELLES APPOINTS CHRISTINE VEL AS TOURISM BOARD MANAGER IN LONDON
Christine Vel is a quietly ambitious island girl from Mont Buxton, Mahé. She was attached to the Office of the European Director in Paris and has recently been posted to manage the Seychelles Tourism Board’s London Office.
Putting Seychellois nationals in tourism promotional offices has been the guiding principle of Sherin Francis, the CEO of the Tourism Board, and recent changes have opened the opportunity for Christine Vel to broaden her horizons as she represents her country in ‘Jolly Old Angleterre’.
"I am personally proud of her success and take this opportunity to wish her well" states Francis.
Sherin Francis, CEO of the Tourism Board
MAURITIUS – "POUPETTE" IS THE NAME OF AN INDEPENDENT BLOGGER CONTINUOUSLY REVIEWING TOURISM PRODUCTS
‘Poupette’ has been active for a while and it was difficult to get to know who was behind this Mauritius based Blog. The writer wishes to remain anonymous, but after an unexpected one-to-one meeting on Denis Island in Seychelles, it can be confirmed that the person is a tourism professional with a wealth of experience and a keen eye for detail.
Reviews are free, but the product must be good for a recommendation that will enhance the promotion of the tourism business being covered.
‘My Sweet Mauritius’ is the blog issued from Mauritius with a very special character. The blogger has a fresh style, the blogs personal in nature but light in approach. ‘Poupette des Iles’ is published weekly where special discoveries are marked by the "Ayo J’Adore" (Ayo I Love) tag line.
Poupette travels independently around Mauritius and publishes all what is discovered in all its diversity, including artisanal works, artists, hotels, restaurants, and boutiques. Exceptional places are all given attention and their due visibility.
My Sweet Mauritius: the blog from Mauritius is a must to follow to discover the authentic Mauritius. It can be found online and on Facebook:
EMMANUEL RICHARDET IS THE NEW GM OF THE WESTIN TURTLE BAY RESORT & SPA MAURITIUS
Emmanuel Richardet is the new General Manager of The Westin Turtle Bay Resort & Spa of Mauritius. Emmanuel has some thirty years’ experience in hotel management, having worked in hotels in Europe such as the Méridien Penina in Portugal, the Méridien Dona Filipa & San Lorenzo Golf Course, and the Sheraton La Caleta Resort & Spa in Tenerife, Spain
TAG HEUER WILL ORGANISE THE 2ND KITESURF COMPETITION IN MAURITIUS
On the 1st June TAG Heuer announced that they will once again organise their Kitesurf League and that this will be taking place this year on the 17th June, 19th August and 9th September on the C Beach Club at Bel Ombre in the south part of Mauritius.
REUNION – ANOTHER SPECTACULAR VOLCANIC ERUPTION
The Indian Ocean Island of Reunion was boasting natural fireworks as the world welcomed 2017; It was on the 31 January at 19h40 that the "Le Piton de la Fournaise" of Reunion started sending red lava spewing into the air once again.
"Le Piton de la Fournaise" is one of the most active volcanos of the world and is situated in the centre of the National Park of Reunion. It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
VANILLA ISLANDS AT SEATRADE IN FORT LAUDERDALE
Vanilla Islands, the six-island destination of the Indian Ocean (Comoros, Madagascar, Mayotte, Mauritius, Reunion and Seychelles) was at the Seatrade Cruise Global in Fort Lauderdale in the USA in March to meet the industry leaders and to better appreciate trends as well as the latest developments.
The Vanilla Islands have been having a successful cruise ship season in 2016 and seeking to consolidate the gains made in recent years. Pascal Viroleau, the CEO of the Vanilla islands, was personally representing the Islands and sponsored one of the conferences for some 300 professionals with the MTPA of Mauritius. It was also the opportunity to screen a promotional film and distribute the region’s cruise ship promotional flyer with all of the member states.
CENTRAL & EASTERN EUROPE IS UPDATED ON THE USPs OF THE VANILLA ISLANDS
Tourism Offices and Tourism Boards of the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands, accompanied by members of their private sector trade, were in Central & Eastern Europe with Turkish Airlines in April for a dedicated Indian Ocean Roadshow to meet the industry’s travel trade.
This was a prime opportunity for the Indian Ocean Region to get itself more visibility and for Turkish Airline to spread the news that they have once again been voted the ‘Best European Airline’.
After Sofia in Bulgaria, the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands’ dedicated Roadshow moved to Belgrade in Serbia before ending the three-city tour in Ljubljana, Slovenia. More than 80 Travel Agents and Tour Operators made time to attend the event and to meet with Tourism Officials and with the Trade from the Indian Ocean Region.
The Indian Ocean Islands are already well served by Turkish Airlines and this should help facilitate sales from these important source markets.
RWANDA HAS AN AIRLINE THAT IS WORKING
Rwanda’s airline is state-owned and is but seven-years-old. The carrier was initially known as RwandAir Express and operated in those early days with leased turboprop planes. However, Rwanda and its airline has moved to become an Africa wide operator. Today RwandAir has a fleet of 12 aircrafts, including two Airbus A330’s and 6 Boeing 737’s and they serve 22 destinations. The routes are mostly in Africa and they are set to establish very soon a hub in Cotonou for their West Africa operations.
RwandAir is working and proving that Africa can work for Africa. It has been confirmed that from April they will launch a service to Mumbai and by May inaugurated its first flight to Europe through the Kigali-London route. In June they are set to launch Brussels services, in conjunction with their flights to Gatwick and by 2018 plan to begin regular flights to the United States of America.
WORLD TOURISM FORUM LUCERNE 2017
Martin Barth, the President and CEO of the World Tourism Forum Lucerne should be congratulated for a very successful 2017 edition. 500 participants from 75 countries exchanged ideas, shared their visions and met new friends.
It was fantastic to see how 60 Ministers and even a Prime Minister, CEOs, investors and Professors discussed tomorrow’s challenges in our industry during the WTFL Think Tank in the beautiful Chateau St Charles at the lake of Lucerne. 16 Start-Up finalists made us all proud and showed us how brilliant tomorrow’s business ideas are. The keynote speakers, Simon Anholt, Jason Fox, Ann Sherry, Rasoul Jalali and John Perrottet gave us all food for thought to make sure we can take better and more sustainable decisions in the future.
World Tourism Forum Lucerne is and will stay unique by bridging the silos between the public and the private industry, investors and academia and by integrating the Next Generation.
TOURISM & TERRORISM JUST DO NOT GO TOGETHER
Following the recent acts of terrorism (Manchester, London, Paris, Melbourne and Iran) that again shocked the world, the call must be made for Governments and the Private Sector to come together with the Press to find a way forward.
The flowing is an extract of the Press Release issued by Alainafter the London Attacks –
The UNWTO and WTTC meeting is a must, but the Press must be invited to be together as partners. The right to information and the right to life and economic survival must be tabled, analysed and joint actions agreed together.
During the evening of the 3rd June London suffered from the cowardly acts of terrorism. The World of Tourism from the four corners of the globe stands with London today to say that we strongly condemn this latest attack perpetrated in the heart of London.
The world was still getting to terms with the recent Manchester attack, and as the great British People were getting to terms with that incident another blow strikes to disrupt lives in Great Britain. As far away as the Seychelles, sitting right in the middle of the Indian Ocean, but still part of the World of Tourism Alain St. Ange says heartfelt condolences and sincere sympathy to the families and friends of the victims and to the people of Great Britain.
St. Ange added, “A call I made for the recent UNWTO elections for the post of Secretary General was for Ministers of Tourism and also those for Internal Affairs to sit with the Press Fraternity alongside the tourism industry’s public and private sector, the UNWTO and WTTC, to analyze such threats as what happened in London last night. It is very clear that this is a matter for the international community to rally together because innocent lives are being lost and economies threatened because some seem to enjoy such acts of destruction. Today I again call for the Community of Nations to meet and to get the Press on board. Great Britain cannot do this alone, and as we see the number of Cities of the World affected at one point in time by such carnage get longer, we need to join forces and search for solutions.”
East African Tourism Platform a regional success
East Africa Tourism Platform (EATP) is a tourism private sector body working within the East African Community (EAC). EATP works for the interest and participation of the private sector in the EAC integration process. Since inception in 2012, EATP has managed to facilitate several reforms that have positively impacted East Africa’s tourism industry. EATP has tirelessly engaged policymakers and championed for the private sector. EATP can be credited for successfully advocating for the East Africa Tourist Visa, use of National IDs and the interstate pass as travel documents for citizens, free movement of tourism services as well as joint marketing initiatives.
EATP has also played a very significant role in the development of East Africa Tourism Web Portal (HYPERLINK
http://www.visiteastafrica.org" www.visiteastafrica.org) and production of Television and Radio Advertisements and Documentary. The portal offers regional tourism practitioners a platform to showcase what Destination East Africa has to offer as a multi-country destination and promote inter and intra-regional tourism. The advertisements and documentary, on the other hand, were aired in Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya reaching over 60 million
East Africans. Additionally, EATP is running an online East Africa Travel Specialist training program. This program is one of a kind in Africa, covering three countries, where travel agents and tourism operators’ skills on East Africa Travel Geography are sharpened.
Moreover, EATP has been facilitating business and networking opportunities for regional travel and tourism practitioners at Kwita Izina, Karibu Fair, Magical Kenya, Kilifair and Pearl of Africa. Over 2,500 regional business operators have been given the opportunity to trade and learn on regional products through B2Bs, exhibitions, trade-fairs and destination trainings. As a result, the number of regional tourists within EAC has been increasing. For instance, in 2015, the number of regional tourists from within EAC member states was over 852,000; representing 65% of total tourist arrivals.
As the organization, EATB has played a critical role in the pursuance of a Single Destination Brand Showcasing East Africa as One in Tourism Expos, zero-cost work permits-enabling free movement of labour, Single Tourist Visa, Interstate Passes and Joint Tourism Marketing Committee. In 2016, they joined forces with the governments of Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda, for the first time, to participate in World Travel Market and Berlin International Fair (ITB) under one joint pavilion/stand and banner dubbed ‘Borderless borders; One Destination, One Visa’; signifying that EATP’s efforts of marketing the region under One Stand are receiving endorsement from top political actors within the EAC.
At the same time, EATP has solidified the existence of the national tourism private sector apex bodies by making them vocal and authoritative at a regional level, thereby effectively tabling their needs both at national and regional levels. As a result, they have received recognition from across the globe, with notable examples from World Tourism Organization and the World Bank. In the words of World Bank publication (2016) EATP has recently shown leadership in attempting to champion and facilitate a collective, coordinated and simultaneous approach to enhancing East Africa’s competitiveness in travel and tourism.
EATP is currently lobbying for the liberalization of EAC air space, sector specific tax reforms and incentives, harmonization of standards and codes of conduct of tourism facilities and services, which will further impact the tourism sector and consequently the region’s economy. East Africa Tourism Platform is showing that Africa can work with Africa for the good of Africa.
Kenya honours Taleb Rifai of the UNWTO
Minister Najib Balaba presenting the award to Dr Taleb Rifai
For a job well done Dr Taleb Rifai, the outgoing Secretary General of the UNWTO, has been honoured by President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and awarded the Elder of the Golden Heart of Kenya (EGH) for his distinguished service to Kenya. This is the highest honourpossible by Kenya.
Africa says thank you to the President of Kenya and to Minister Najib Balala for bestowing this honour on Dr Rifai. We all know that he has worked tirelessly for world tourism and tried hard to reposition tourism in Africa. Today we are talking about Brand Africa, the narrative we need to write ourselves to pitch our key USPs (Unique Selling Points) and to dispel the often adverse perception being aired about Africa.
"I want to personally join President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, Minister Najib Balala and the People of the Kenya to say thank you to Dr Taleb Rifai. You have been a great Secretary General of the UNWTO and we appreciate your dedication to the tourism industry. You worked tirelessly and you delivered. From the mid-ocean islands of the Seychelles sitting right in the middle of the Indian Ocean I say thank you for a job well done" Alain
People are pretty good at coming up with reasons why it’s better to wait before becoming a parent. Some of these are valid concerns. Younger parents are – in general – less likely to have the financial security, relationship stability and emotional maturity that “average” parents benefit from. It’s a little nosy coming from a stranger, but if the concerns are voiced politely, it gives the young parent an opportunity to either ask for support, or say that they’re confident in their abilities. So why, with this arsenal of decent, valid concerns at their disposal, are people only capable of coming up with the most ridiculous concern ever? “But what about travelling?”. Since becoming a mum at 19, I have realised that my life is meaningless. Utterly meaningless. It doesn’t matter what I achieve; it counts for nothing, because I haven’t spent six weeks backpacking through a jungle somewhere. Apparently, every under-25 in the history of – well, forever – wants to go travelling. Life is somehow empty without it. If you haven’t gone travelling, you haven’t lived. This is, of course, according to people who found themselves while on safari in Tanzania. Look, if I need to drive through a field full of animals to find spiritual fulfilment, I’ll go to West Midlands Safari Park. I don’t need to risk malaria to “find myself”. People can’t understand why someone wouldn’t want to go travelling. I can only answer for myself here, but I hate all of the following: heat, flying, bugs and spending lots of money. There’s four reasons right there why I didn’t want to travel, and none of them have anything to do with having a baby at a young age. Of course, having a baby at a young age did put an extra kibosh on any travelling plans, but only for now – and only because I’m a homebody who couldn’t imagine trekking across the desert with a baby in a carrier. There are people who are travelling the world right now with a baby in tow. Even worse than the people who believe that life is empty without getting drunk on a Thai beach at twenty-one, are the people who – when I tell them I have no interest in travelling – tell me that it’s “only because I’m bitter that I can’t because I’m a young mum”. Sorry, I didn’t realise your spiritual enlightenment safari meant you could now read minds! Why isn’t it said to people who are about to do a PhD? “Oh no, don’t tie yourself down with learning, go and build a school in Kenya!”. Or someone who’s just secured a graduate placement at Ernst & Young? “Who needs money, go to Australia!”. Nope, it’s just young parents, who couldn’t possibly be learning and working at the same time. If they don’t go travelling, it’s purely because of their parenting commitments. Oh, and don’t suggest that parenting is an adventure in itself. They don’t like that at all. No, parenting – and more specifically, motherhood – is a menial task. It’s a dreary, day-in, day-out drudgery that you cannot possibly see as anything “fun”. A lot of the “you must travel” attitude reflects how society sees motherhood. It also reflects how society sees young people. The freedom of youth is a fallacy. If a teenager or young person is a parent, or focused on study or work, they’re “wasting their childhood”. If they spend their time gaming or blogging, they’re “immature” and “need to grow up”. They only fall into the “acceptable” bracket if they indulge in the nice, middle-class youth pursuits – travelling to third-world countries or backpacking through Eastern European hills. Travelling isn’t a bad thing, and if people enjoy it, more power to them. When people go travelling, they have fantastic experiences, meet incredible people and do brilliant things – but is it the be-all and end-all? Of course not. The thing that irritates me is the continued refusal to believe that I could find parenting as fulfilling as they find travelling. It’s the biggest adventure I’ve ever been on. Maybe I’ll go travelling in my thirties – maybe to somewhere like the Arctic, where heat and mosquitos won’t bother me – and I’ll take my then-teenage daughter with me, if she wants to come. Or maybe I won’t. Just as some people find the idea of parenting utterly mind-numbing, I’d rather staple my ears to my head than jet off somewhere equatorial. So don’t feel sorry for me when you think of my almost-empty passport and my poor, unenlightened life. Being a young parent is my adventure, and I don’t need your validation to enjoy it.
A total of 1,798,380 tourists arrived in Sri Lanka in 2015. Only 375,735 of them – about20% – visited the country’s wild life parks. There is clearly a big gap there and, as naturalists like Gehan de Silva Wijeratne have been pointing out for years, something needs to be done to get that percentage up.
While the beaches with their golden sand and turquoise waters are an obvious draw, and the imposing ruins of ancient Lanka as well as the picturesque mountainsides continue to pull backpackers and more affluent tourists alike, the country’s wealth of flora and fauna remain largely unexploited in terms of tourism promotion. The little promotion that does happen, a closer look will reveal, is either inadequate or substandard to the point that it could actually hurt the country’s image.
Wildlife tourism expert and Past President of the Hotels Association of Sri Lanka Srilal Miththapala has a plan – or at least an idea on top of which a plan can be built with the participation of all stakeholders – to turn things around.
At a public lecture organized by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce earlier this week under the topic ‘The Importance of Sri Lanka’s Wildlife Attractions,’ Miththapala spelt out of his vision.
Sri Lanka is recognized as one of the 31 biodiversity hotspots in the world. That a little island nation like Sri Lanka has been featured in such a list is, as pointed out by Miththapala, is not only a rare honor but an opportunity to get those numbers up. Unfortunately, while Sri Lanka is world renowned for many salient things, this unique factor hardly ever gets a mention.
“There are, among others, 3,000 plants, 80 mammals, 180 reptiles – 101of whom are endemic – that can be found in Sri Lanka. This is a wide variety for such a small country. The species diversity here is amazing,” said Miththapala.
Tourism in Sri Lanka took a dip towards the latter parts of the country’s protracted civil war. Though the country has been a top destination for a long time, the travel trade was mired in crisis after crisis thanks to various epidemics and bombs going off on street corners. But almost immediately after the war ended in May 2009, tourism in Sri Lanka took a turn for the better.
“All other industries took a longer time to come out of the war, but we recovered immediately,” said Miththapala, referring to his chosen profession. “It has seen an upward trend since. Arrivals have reached almost two million now, and Sri Lanka is in a unique position in that our occupancy levels are not due to lowering rates. Arrivals are increasing and so is the rate.”
Sri Lanka’s big four
While that’s great news, there is definite room for growth. And that is where wildlife tourism comes in. Miththapala agrees. Referring to the above- mentioned species diversity in the country, he said: “These are wonderful things that we should be shouting from the rooftops. We have the largest land mammal on earth and the largest animal that ever lived on earth. We have one of the largest predators, the leopard. And one of the more elusive animals – the sloth bear. We have four unique mammals in Sri Lanka. Why can’t we promote this as Sri Lanka’s big four?”
About 10% of the world’s elephant population reside in Sri Lanka. Miththapala laments that these are important statistics that are almost never highlighted when the country is pitched to the world of travel.
“Independent, hard-nosed naturalists who have travelled all over the world… they realize this is a wonderful place,” he said, pointing out that in addition to the largest land animal, Sri Lanka is also home to the smallest: the pygmy shrew.
Echoing sentiments previously expressed by his colleague Gehan de Silva Wijeratne– and published in Daily FT – Miththapala said that Sri Lanka is the only country in the world where you can see blue whales, bottle nosed dolphins, wild elephants and leopards on a single weekend.
“These are fantastic and unique things that we can promote as attractions in Sri Lanka. Blue whales come to Mirissa because there’s a lot of krill and plankton there. These are the stories we have to tell,” he said.
Tell interesting stories
He also noted the need to tell interesting stories – for example, Sumedha, the elephant that comes to the bunt of the Udawalawe lake to feed – rather than just saying “come to Sri Lanka; we have elephants”.
Referring to the controversial Pinnawala elephant orphanage, Miththapala said that, while there are shortcomings, it can be a helpful asset in terms of tourism.
“There were 362,000 visitors to Pinnawala last year, with Rs. 766 million in earnings. Although there are shortcomings, it is the world’s first elephant orphanage. It is also said to have the largest captive herd. It should’ve been the world’s primary research Centre for elephants. Unfortunately, it has fallen by the way side. Hopefully it can be revived. Where on earth do you get 86 orphaned elephants in one space?” he said. There is, however, an overcrowding issue in Pinnawala. The elephant transit home at Udawawale offers an interesting contrast.
“It’s a reasonable success story. There 40 calves being rehabilitated. The idea is that you don’t interact with them too much. They live most of the time outside in the grassland and come only for their milk. And once they’re old enough, they’re released in batches into national parks, usually to Udawalawe itself,” explained Miththapala.
Yala and Wilpattu
Yala, though more popular than ever (over half a million visitors), has lately been a bone of contention among tour operators and wildlife activists. Overcrowding is a serious issue in Yala, with countless safari jeeps flocking to the reserve to spot leopards.
Miththapala believes there is a need to take focus away from Yala and turn at least some of the tourists to other parks – particularly Wilpattu, which has seen a dearth in park visits in recent years.
“Yala is rocketing in terms of revenue, Udawalawe is going up, but Wilpattu has been going up and down unfortunately. Yala is overcrowded, so we need to push people to Wilpattu,” he said.
He called on tour operators to refer clients to other parks when they’re inquired about leopards
“Don’t focus on Yala. Say ‘would you like to take this route and go to Wilpattu?’ Push Yala out and bring in Wilpattu. It is the largest park, so you have to drive a lot to be to see a leopard if you’re lucky. But do shift the focus from Yala. That is in our hands. The hoteliers, the tour operators,” he said.
One of the biggest problems in Yala is a tendency by drivers to somehow show the guests a leopard. Their desire to give the client a unique experience, said Miththapala, coupled with tactics of overpromising have contributed to this issue. The solution, he reiterated, is to give the leopards a backseat and promote the park as a space to see other big game.
In terms of revenue, when you look at the visitor numbers, in 2015 the Sri Lankan visitors visiting all the parks outnumber foreigners 1:3. The foreigners, however, contribute more than 25% of revenue.
“We need to give the foreigners a value-for-money experience. In 2015 we had 1.8 million arrivals, out of which only 20% visited the parks. Wildlife and nature tourism does play an important role in Sri Lanka tourism. There’s a lot more room to grow. We’ll never become a Kenya, but there is room for growth,” said Miththapala.
The tourism industry – particularly tour operators and hoteliers – can do a lot to change things around, rather than waiting for the Department of Wildlife to step in. Miththapala advocates ethical tourism, discouraging hotels from offering elephant rides and the like to increasingly environmentally-conscience tourists.
“We must self-regulate, or we’ll never get anywhere,” he said.
“Wildlife and nature is our most valuable natural asset. We’re all of us blessed to be born in this wonderful country, if not for anything else, just for this beautiful natural asset that we have. It is the responsibility of all of us, tourism people, environmentalists, ordinary citizens, to somehow do their bit, in little organized clusters to help protect it from degradation. As Ghandi said, the greatness of a nation and its progress can be judged by the way its animals and environment are treated,” he added.
Srilal Miththapala is a regular eTN contributor from Sri Lanka.
Author: Himal Kotelawala, Images: Lasantha Kumara
The latest candidate wanting to take over the post of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is Mrs. Dho Young-shim. She is also the Chairperson of the UN World Tourism Organization’s Sustainable Tourism for Eliminating Poverty (ST-EP) Foundation (Republic of Korea)
South Korea had already the lead in the United Nations. The current Secretary-General is Ban Ki-moon of South Korea, who took office on 1 January 2007. His first term expired on 31 December 2011. He was re-elected, unopposed, to a second term on 21 June 2011.
Since January 1, 2017 Portuguese Antonio Guterres is the first Secretary-General from Western Europe since Kurt Waldheim (1972–1981), the first former head of government to become Secretary-General and the first Secretary-General born after the establishment of the United Nations.
With Dho Young-shim another integrated agency of the United Nations would be in Korean hands.
Dho Young-shim had offered Mr. Carlos Vogeler to work with her as a second in charge if she was elected.
Ambassador Dho promotes tourism, sports and education to fight poverty in the world’s least developed countries. She is spearheading the Thank You Small Library project of the UNWTO ST-EP Foundation which has established over 80 libraries in developing countries since October 2007.
From 1982 to 1992, she was a Member of the Korean Delegation to the Inter-Parliamentary Union; between 1985 and 1988, she served as Chief of Staff of the Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee; from 1988 to 1992, she was a Member of the National Assembly; and from 1988 to 1992, she served as Vice-Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee and Unification.
Between 1999 and 2003, she was Vice Chair and Chair of the Organizing Committee for Visit Korea Year; from 2003 to 2004, she served as Ambassador of Cultural Cooperation; and from 2005 to 2006, she was Ambassador of Tourism and Sports.
Ambassador Dho holds a BSc in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin and a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Oklahoma. In 2008, she was awarded the title if High Knight of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic.
Mr. Carlos Vogeler is currently Executive Director for Member Relations at the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) based in Madrid, Spain. Between January 2009 and December 2013 he held the position of Regional Director for the Americas at UNWTO, which he currently also retains.
Between January 2009 and December 2013 he held the position of Regional Director for the Americas at UNWTO, which he currently also retains.
He is a tenured professor at University “Rey Juan Carlos”, Madrid, at the Dpt. of Business Economics, regular lecturer at Spanish and International Universities and author of various university text books, as well as numerous articles on international tourism structure.
Mr. Vogeler started his career in the private sector at Pullmantur, one of the largest Spanish Tour Operators. During his sixteen years of service from 1974 to 1990, he became Deputy Managing Director and introduced many innovations, namely expanding the number of destinations and products and opening new offices and new markets. He also played an active role in the board of directors of the Spanish Travel Agencies Association of Travel Agencies and in UFTAA (United Federation of Travel Agent’s Associations), where he chaired the committee on road transportation.
From 1991 to 2008 he served in various senior management positions at Group RCI, part of Wyndham Worldwide, one of the world’s largest hospitality groups, quoted in the New York Stock Exchange, where he was Managing Director for South-Western Europe, covering Spain, France, Portugal and Benelux and later Vice president of Global Account Strategy & Industry Relations.
He was elected Chairman of the Affiliate Members of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) from 2005 to 2008, representing Group RCI. Since 1997 he had been serving as Vice President of the board of the Affiliate Members and Chairman of the Business Council and member of the UNWTO Strategic Group.
He is also a founding member of the Spanish Association of Experts in Tourism (AECIT) and was a member of the International Association of Experts in Tourism (AIEST).
Carried out his studies in Canada and in Spain, graduating in Tourism Business Administration by “Escuela Oficial de Turismo de Madrid” (now University Rey Juan Carlos) and post-graduate by the IESE Business School, of the University of Navarra – Spain.
Mr. Vogeler was born in Venezuela of Spanish mother and Venezuelan-German father and is a national of Spain and Venezuela.
Mr. Vogeler would be competing with Mr. Marcio Favilla from Brazil, who is serving as the Executive Director for Operational Programmes and Institutional Relations for UNWTO. Both are considered insiders and integrated into the old system at UNWTO.
Some of the current candidates are pledging to modernize or replace the current system.
There was a time when it was common to work for the same company for 10, 20, or even 30 years, making it extremely rare to have the same employer twice in one lifetime.
While the concept of boomeranging, or returning to a former employer, would be completely foreign in previous generations, the trend has grown significantly in recent years.
According to data compiled by Workopolis, the proportion of Canadians that have started a job at a company that they’ve previously worked for has more than doubled in the last 15 years. In 2015, 2.57% of Workopolis’ successful applicants, or more than one in 40 employees, boomeranged back to a former employer. By comparison, only 1% of those hired through the Workopolis platform were boomerang employees in the year 2000.
The data also found that the most common industry for boomerang employees is education, followed by healthcare, financial, retail, and government.
With boomeranging on the rise in Canada, here are five things to consider before returning to a former employer.
1) Think about ways you’ve improved in the interim
After discovering that the grass wasn’t as green on the other side you may find yourself gazing once again at the lawn you abandoned, but leaving is always easier than returning. Before you begin making a new plea to a former employer, consider the ways in which you’ve evolved, changed, or improved during the interim period.
“If there was a particular incident before, or if there was something that was constantly coming up as an area for development, be prepared to say what’s changed in that area,” suggested Cissy Pau, the principal consultant of Vancouver-based Clear HR Consulting. Pau adds that candidates can’t assume a former employer will welcome them back with open arms. Instead they need to be prepared to demonstrate how they’ve improved their skills during the time at a different company.
2) Be cautious of the conditions that caused you to leave in the first place
If your former employer now appears to have the greenest lawn in town, it’s important to be cautious that you’re not falling victim to a common fallacy, one which makes everything look more appealing from the outside. Before putting in an application with your former employer take the time to consider what caused you to leave in the first place, and the reasons you have to believe conditions have improved.
“When you’re considering coming back, a lot of folks will have those rose-coloured glasses on, thinking their experience was so great, so really take an inventory of why you left, if those reasons still exist today and if so, is it a deal breaker?” explained Meagan Lettau, a human capital manager in consulting at Deloitte, who boomeranged back to the consulting firm a year after leaving for another employer.
3) Don’t assume things will be the same
While those who had negative experiences with a former employer should seek to find reasons to believe the situation has improved, those who have nothing but positive memories may be setting themselves up for disappointment.
“Maybe the leadership has changed, maybe the culture has changed, maybe the office has moved,” said Pau. “You have to be a bit open and accepting that the situation may no longer be what it was.”
In other words, if you’re considering returning to a former employer, be sure that it’s a new opportunity that excites you, not a desire to relive the past.
4) Address lingering issues head on
The boomerang trend should be reason enough not to burn any bridges on your way out the door, but whether you left on good terms or bad, there are always lingering issues that need to be addressed before making that glorious return. After all, if things were perfect, you likely wouldn’t have left in the first place. While many issues are not insurmountable, most require some sense of closure before both parties are able to move forward.
“The big consideration is, what were the circumstances under which the employee left in the first place? That’s the one both sides need to consider,” said Pau. “If there were specific issues from before you should address those head on,” she added, suggesting that any lingering issues should be addressed during the interview process, and can be used by the employee as an opportunity to demonstrate how they’ve grown and improved.
5) Get yourself up to speed on what’s changed since you left
Whether you’re returning to a former employer after a few months apart or a few years, odds are things have changed since you left. Even if the employer is kind enough to move their old colleague’s resume to the top of the pile, the employee will still need to demonstrate a clear understanding of how the business has evolved since they left.
“A person early on in their career is a completely different person than when they’re mid career, and same with the company. A startup is a very different environment than a more established company,” said Pau, who believes that in the end, if you’re thinking of going back to a former employer, there’s one thing you absolutely need to do: your homework.
Child abuse and the neglect of children is by far one of the most sensitive subjects in society that has the ability to provoke people to talk. But very often, too many people don’t let their emotions move them to action, mostly because of fear of what may follow if they let themselves get involved. The “it’s not really my life” mentality prevails, leaving many abused children right where they were before we had conversations about them that did nothing to change their circumstances.
In a world where social ills seem to be firmly in the proverbially saddle and riding mankind, there has never been a time where we so desperately needed the old saying “it takes a village to raise a child” to be true. One woman from Atteridgeville, Gauteng, has made this her life’s work. Making a home for abused, abandoned and orphaned children is the stuff that courses through Sylvia Magoba’s blood, sweat and tears. Her safe haven, Kingdom Life Children’s Centre in Atteridgeville, has become the place that 62 children, aged between two and 18, now call home.
It all started in 1999 when Magoba, 72, was a member of the school governing body (SGB) at one of the local primary schools. Abused children were turning to adults they felt they could trust. “Children were opening up to teachers, telling their stories of abuse and neglect, which made it difficult for them to prosper in their education.
“The stories became too heavy for the teachers to handle and they related them to the school principal, who then called the SGB so that we could share ideas on how to assist the learners,” Magoba says.
When the children placed their trust in them, Magoba was inspired to act and reached out to social workers. Coincidentally, when Magoba heard about the children’s plight, she had just participated in a project called “Iso Labantwana” (Eye of the children).
“The social workers invited women in the community to take part in Iso Labantwana. The project opened my mind and ears to hear and listen to the children and become their rescuer without worrying about who says what.
“It built me up and gave me heart. I got so passionate that as soon as I hear about the plight of a child that is not acceptable, I alert the social workers,” says Magoba.
Even though the Kingdom Life Children’s Centre was just a dream back then, the mother of six daughters had started sharing her three-bedroomed house with abused and neglected children.
The first children she welcomed into her home were aged between four and six and came from one family.
“They were repeating the same grade for three years because they away from school for long periods and couldn’t write monthly tests and exams. Their mother was always away, and they were left alone without food in the house.
“The social workers and community police forum intervened and it became clear that the only solution was to remove the kids from their home. However, the big question was, where they would go? That’s when I volunteered to look after them.”
Many rooms in my mother’s house
Magoba now cares for 62 children, aged between two and 18, who each hold a very special place in her big heart.
When she initially took in the first six children, their friends would come to the house and play with them, and the next thing, they no longer want to go back home, a sign that they were also being neglected.
“I went to investigate and I discovered that indeed, they were not being cared for. Neighbours were looking after them. I took them in and I had eight, 10 and more.”
However, as the number of children coming to her house kept on growing, it became difficult for Magoba to take care of all of them and her three-bedroom house also became too small to accommodate the children.
The foster care grant only catered for six kids, which is the number of children she was allowed to care for with the money.
Magoba decided to approach a local ward councillor, who identified vacant land, where she was able to build a centre with a bigger space to house the children.
When the building was completed, Magoba left her own house and joined the kids at the centre. This was to ensure that they were under her 24-hour supervision and attend school daily.
The centre was also registered as a non-profit organisation (NPO) and qualified for a grant from the Department of Social Development.
Since the centre’s existence, Magoba has been sharing everything with the children in the centre, including the bathroom and toilet.
But relief came about when a local golf club provided sponsorship for Magoba to make improvements to the centre. She now has her own bedroom, a much needed and welcomed development for any parent of many children.
“Last year, I was called by Shongwe Charity and Golf Club, where they informed me that they’ve raised R2.5 million and they wanted to spend it on building of a resource centre for the children.”
Getting them ready for the future
The resource centre, which was officially opened by President Jacob Zuma during the International Children’s Day celebration on 1 June 2016, has 50 computers and a mini library.
The money from Shongwe Charity and Golf Club was also used to renovate the whole Kingdom Life Children’s Centre building.
Magoba says when she started helping the children, not everyone was happy in the community. People warned her that the children would give her problems.
However, Magoba says she has not experienced any bad behaviour from the children.
“I’ve never experienced a child running away from school. As soon as they dress up and eat their breakfast, everyone takes their bags and goes to school. They pass their exams. Sometimes the care and things they get here make them proud and that creates a sense of belonging.”
About seven children, who grew up at the centre, have since graduated and carried on with their own lives outside the centre after getting bursaries,
Magoba knows she could not raise the children on her own, and has a strong team behind her who always ensures that the children are in clean clothes, well-fed, attend school and have someone to talk to when they face challenges.
The staff of 13 includes a social worker and a bus driver, who transports the children to and from school.
Despite her age, Magoba feels that there’s still more she can do for the children, including those who stay outside the centre and over the age of 18.
“After completing matric, some children just stay at home and do nothing, and I want to help them to acquire skills so that they can start small businesses and generate income to support themselves and their families.
“My wish is to open a baking facility next year, where they can learn to bake. I also want to have a welding machine for those who want to do welding.”
For a woman who has shown such determination and depth of heart to love, care and nurture, there is no doubt that the dreams she has for these children will come true
For the first time, Spring Polar Bears and Icebergs of Baffin Photo Safari takes travellers into the heart of the high Arctic – an area seldom explored – in early spring. This new expedition by Arctic Kingdom offers unprecedented polar bear and iceberg viewing, photography opportunities and exclusive access to this spectacular region like never before.
"Canada's high Arctic is one of the most special places on the planet to see polar bears and possibly even cubs," says Graham Dickson, Arctic Kingdom Founder and President. "While Churchill is renowned for polar bears in fall, Baffin Island is the Arctic's hidden jewel with year-round polar bears. We are thrilled to share this incredible location with the world and make travel here in early spring possible for the first time."
Arctic Kingdom is the first tour operator to offer a high Arctic and polar bear experience at this time of year. With departures in March and April 2017, adventurous travellers and photographers have the chance to experience rare sightings of polar bears as they venture on to the sea ice and climb majestic icebergs. This is an event only previously experienced by the most seasoned Inuit.
Guests explore the wilderness of Baffin Island with local Inuit guides by snowmobile and qamutik (traditional Inuit sled) before retreating to a specially designed Arctic Safari Camp set on more than 2.5 meters (8 feet) of solid sea ice. The remote camp is surrounded by vast landscapes, snow-capped mountains and soaring icebergs, with opportunities to see Northern Lights at night. After full days of discovery adventurers are welcomed by gourmet meals prepared by a professional chef.
"More adventurous than ever before, this is a true high Arctic experience. Being immersed in the world of the polar bear, out on the sea ice in spring and surrounded by the raw, untouched beauty of the Arctic landscape; it is polar bear viewing at its best," says David Briggs, Arctic Kingdom Senior Expedition Leader and photographer. "There are unrivaled opportunities for award-winning photography at every turn. From seeing polar bears far above the treeline climbing on icebergs, to the dramatic land and icescapes, and awe-inspiring Northern Lights at night, this expedition is quite simply a wildlife and landscape photographer's dream."