Seychelles Minister for Tourism and Culture outlines his vision in Ministry’s General Staff meeting

The Ministry of Tourism and Culture closes the 2012 with its first General Staff meeting at the International Conference centre in Victoria.

The general staff meeting, a follow up to the series of staff sectorial meetings was described by Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles Minister for Tourism and Culture as an “eye opener”. “These meetings is firstly keeping me personally connected with all the Ministry’s staff, and secondly it is to help me to take stock of my Ministry’s achievements, challenges and concerns so that lessons can be learnt in order to accelerated progress of the Ministry” the Minister said.

“In these sectorial meetings I have listened to everyone, some sectors were much more vocal than others, but these meetings were meant to enable you to have a voice, they were called just for that,  and now that we have completed this first series of staff meetings, and now that I have heard from you all, I will do my utmost to assist and to support you to accomplish and to live up to your dreams and wishes as you work alongside the Ministry’s team to discharge our responsibilities, and to deliver on our mandate” said Minister St.Ange

Minister St.Ange underlined that whilst the Ministry continues to make headway. Minister St.Ange said: “My mandate, ladies and gentlemen is to ensure that we succeed in what is said to be the work behind culture, and cultural development, but my mandate is also to ensure that culture compliments and further advances and helps promote and consolidate the causes of the Tourism Industry, which is the mainstay of our Economy. This is why we have accepted the connotation that tourism cannot be consolidated without culture, but to have culture we need the people, and this is also why we meet, and we will continue to meet, us the people who sit in the front line of culture and in the development of culture.

In the wake of the World economic crisis, we must think globally and act locally… I sincerely believe that we can pride ourselves that as a combined force of Culture and Tourism, we have continued to make headway, notwithstanding the challenges we face in terms of air access, and of course from the ongoing economic recession of our core markets.  The progress is essentially based on the legacy of those who stood before me, and of course our steadfastness and our solidarity as a Team in the face of diversity.

At this point allow me to commend the work and diligence of the Ministry’s central Management team, and assure them that I value their hard work, and to tell each and every one of them that I appreciate their dedication. I say this realizing that  the Ministry’s central Management team would not have accomplished their set targets without the commitment, and without the perseverance of you, members of staff.

Today I salute your hard work” Minister Alain St.Ange said.

“In a meeting held recently, I have asked the central Management Team to meet with all of you in order to review their policies and programmes, and to propose new plans and target for 2013 that are consistent with their mission and vision and that of the Government. In doing so we have to bear in mind the necessity to re-model our Ministry whilst remaining focused in the continually evolving environment within which we have to operate.

I have also asked the heads to conduct end of year appraisals, and to properly document all issues raised especially those pertaining to training as during our various meetings we have also noted the aspirations of our staff. We are also aware of the continuous need for more qualified professionals in the different sectors of the Ministry. As I said at the sectorial meetings, you as a block, the Team of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, you need to be more pro-active in determining your needs and the managers and supervisors have to remain my driving force in ensuring that the training requirements of their respective sections are met” Minister St.Ange said.

Building a sense of team work and the appeal to work towards common objectives for the betterment of the Ministry were echoed in the Minister’s St.Ange speech as his vision for the Ministry.

“We’ve debated lengthily on how to make our institution more customer friendly. Ladies and Gentleman without team work, resources and innovations are meaningless. We need to make maximum use of our institutions. The Seychelles Tourism Academy should for example make better use of the expertise of National Conservatoire of Performing Arts, or the Seychelles Heritage Foundation needs to work more closely with the Seychelles Tourism Board to develop educational or promotional programs. Staff potential should be identified, and put to the fore. Their expertise is the ministry’s greatest assets. Let us remain positive in our approaches” outlined the Minister

Minister St.Ange also detailed his Ministry’s plan and visions for 2013.

“In 2013 we will continue to see the construction project of the Seychelles Tourism Academy. At the Culture Department we are planning to complete the planning of Arts Village so that an official declaration can be made on this facility for the development of all forms of arts in the country. With the National Arts Council we’re studying the possibilities to turn Carrefour des Arts in a busy, popular and financially sound centre for arts. The revamping of Celebrate Seychelles department within Seychelles Tourism Board is also on the agenda. This will help better market Seychelles, and consolidate Seychelles also as an events based tourism destination”

The Minister also spoke of the Seychelles Tourism Board increased budget allocation which he said is necessary to support the institution to find its feet in this competitive world.

“Tourism has never had an acceptable budget with which to adequately market Seychelles in the four corners of the world. The CEO of the Tourism Board, with the support of her Board of Directors, presented this year a draft budget that departed from the past, and that took in the opinions of every Seychellois who are conscious that tourism, as the pillar of the economy, needed the necessary budgetary support to help it find its feet in this competitive world. The call for more budget for tourism has for years come from across the political divide, and from across every sector of the business world.  The Government has heard that plea, and the Government has acted accordingly, and the Government has put in place a mechanism for increasing the tourism marketing budget for Seychelles. Now that the call has been heard we hear, and we read a new call from some not to tax the banks, not to tax telecommunications companies and not to tax the larger establishments and companies.

Yes, we know and the Government knows that the smaller Seychellois tourism operators will benefit from this new form of funding for the marketing budget of Seychelles. Increasing visibility of the country and being able to showcase all the accommodation establishments we have, small to large, guest house to the luxury 5 stars will help Seychelles tell the world we have what potential holiday makers are looking for as a holiday destination. Seychelles needed  to increase its visibility drive, as it relooks at then turning that visibility into increased booking numbers. This is how arrival numbers will increase, and this is the only way the yield from tourism will increase. Tourism accommodation establishments will never, and I repeat never go up in rates only to have empty rooms.

Yield has been the song of so many who just does not like to see the success of the tourism industry. They sing this yield song to demoralize you, members of the Tourism Board. You know, I know, the Government knows, the hotel owners know and all staff in hotels also know that the Government does not dictate hotel rates to any hotel owner. This is, and this will remain a private sector call, because they are best suited to determine for themselves the rate they feel they can acceptably promote their property with, and the rate they feel they need with which to make their property run. This rate, as I said is not dictated, and this rate is not even suggested by the Government, nor the Tourism Board. Hotel rates is and remains the call of the Hotel Owner and Manager.

Rates are determined on applicable costs, and also on trends, on competition, not competition in Seychelles, but in the region and in competing destinations. For rates to go up we need to increase the supply, only then can the laws of supply and demand take effect.

It is important that we all say that to everyone, and get rid of the perception that Government or Madame Grandcourt sits in her Bel Ombre Offices and dictates to hotels their rates for the coming year.  Hotels are free, in this open market concept, hotels are free to charge rates they want.

But let us put on record that you, the Team of the Tourism Board have done well. Seychelles will record another milestone in visitor arrival numbers. By year end we shall see Seychelles jump the 200 thousand mark in visitor arrival numbers. This is an achievement because the proof of the pudding is in the eating. The Tourism Board accepted its responsibility, worked to deliver on the mandate they were given, and yes we can say proudly that they have done so. Thank you” Minister Alain St.Ange said to the 350 odd staff contingent coming from the Department of Culture, the Tourism Board, the Seychelles Tourism Academy, the National Arts Council and the Seychelles Heritage Foundation.

Before closing his address to the staff of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture,  Minister St.Ange announced that his ministry will continue with its policy of staff meetings and will make the general staff meeting an annual affair. “The general staff meeting” said the Minister, “will be eventually turned into a meeting where the best and most outstanding members of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture team are recognised. It will also be a forum to set out goals and review successes and shortfalls”.

To conclude Minister St.Ange congratulated the staff’s hard work and wish them a Merry Christmas and prosperous year 2013.