The noted American entrepreneur and marketing guru Seth Godin once said that “marketing is a contest for people’s attention”. There may be no finer quote to describe the professional life and goals of Alain St. Ange, the man who sits at the centre of the drive to promote the Indian Ocean nation of Seychelles as a tourist destination to the rest of the world.
As the Minister of Tourism and Culture in the current administration in the Seychelles, the buck stops with Mr. St. Ange when it comes to researching, developing, and implementing marketing and promotion strategies to garner attention for the Seychelles around the globe. His role not only includes an official position within the government, but also cooperation with outside groups working hand in hand with the government to promote tourism to his island nation.
Politics in the Blood
It seems Alain has found his natural position in life working through political forums to promote his native Seychelles to the rest of the world. He comes from a well-respected political family in the Seychelles. His father, Karl St. Ange, was a massive political figure during the critical early years of independent politics in Seychelles.
According to Former President, Sir James Mancham, Karl St. Ange was a man capable of meeting and discussing politics with Seychellois from all political spectrums. He possessed a true ability to “humanise” politics in the mind of all involved. It was into this family that Alain was born.
Very early on his choice of studies reflected a man with a passion for his homeland and the vision to promote it. During his youth, Alain studied Hotel Management and Tourism at schools in Germany and France before launching his own career in hospitality. He held several positions with hotels and restaurants in Seychelles, the Channel Islands, and Australia before landing the role of General Manager for Denis Island, a private resort in Seychelles.
It was this extensive experience in the hospitality field, in addition to his political upbringing, that eventually led Alain into the public sector promoting the natural beauty and splendour of Seychelles.
Marketing to the World
His most important role has come in recent years where he has been able to apply his extensive experience in hospitality to the field of promoting and marketing Seychelles as a tourist destination throughout the region and around the world. In serving as Minister of Tourism and Culture, Alain has worked closely in recent years with the Seychelles Tourism Board (STB).
The STB is a private sector company that works very closely with the public sector in Seychelles, in particular with the Minister of Tourism and Culture. Jointly they to help implement the country’s official tourism policies, promote the islands as a destination, develop products, and monitor the progress of tourism promotion strategies.
Despite a long and distinguished career, Alain’s most visionary project is also his youngest project. The formation of a collective and new geographical entity, “Vanilla Islands”, is the product of Alain and other tourism ministers from the Indian Ocean region.
The Vanilla Islands
This is not a formally recognised geographical location, but rather a metaphorical one. The Vanilla Islands is a massive marketing concept dreamt up by Alain and ministers from La Réunion, Mauritius, Madagascar, and other smaller Indian Ocean island nations to jointly promote the various attractions the region has to offer to tourists from around the globe.
The project is just two years old, but is already gaining the necessary traction for success. At the centre of this project is Alain, who is currently serving a second term as President of the Vanilla Islands. Together with his fellow tourism and culture ministers from the seven member states, Alain heads up an effort to jointly promote both the shared attractions of each member state, along with the factors that make each nation unique.
Alain’s vision for tourism initiatives in the Seychelles, as well as the Vanilla Islands, is “to continue to innovate, and to radiate the insular soul of the Seychelles to the rest of the world”. Indeed, the greatest challenge the Vanilla Islands concept faces is the task of promoting the group in a manner that creates a cohesive identity for the region while maintaining the individuality that makes each nation special.
The Vanilla Islands are gaining recognition around the world thanks to acceptance as an entity by the United Nations, as well as a proven commitment from the member states. Alain has stated on numerous occasions that “the time has come not only for us all to say we are together, but to be seen together”.
One of his latest efforts as President of the Vanilla Islands, and also as Minister of Tourism and Culture for Seychelles, has been to attract affordable air transportation throughout the islands and between the region and other parts of the world. Air Seychelles, in coordination with the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, recently held a launch party in China to promote expanded air service between parts of Asia and Seychelles.
The task that Alain St. Ange faces is a towering one in such a globally connected world as the one we all live in. The fate of the Vanilla Islands and Seychelles could not be in better hands than the experienced ones of Alain St. Ange. In him, the region has found a man with the political upbringing and real world experience to get the job done with professionalism and ensure a successful outcome.