The 2014 edition of the World Export Development Forum held in Kigali in Rwanda from the 15 to 17 September saw Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles Minister responsible for Tourism and Culture take his place alongside Hon Abdou Jobe, the Minister for Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment of The Gambia, Mr Marcio Favilla L. de Paula, the Executive Director for Operational Programmes and Institutional Relations at UNWTO, Ms Marjorie Straw, the Executive Chairman of the CaribbeanNetwork of Service Coalitions in Jamaica, Mr Pascal Lamy, the Chairman of the World Committee on Tourism Ethics at UNWTO and Mr Davidson M. Mugisha, the Managing Director of Wildlife Tours of Rwanda as panelist in a session ‘Tourism for Development: Opportunities for SME trade’ where Ms Shada Islam, the Policy Director of Friends of Europe was Moderator.
In a hall full of delegates and press heard tourism as an industry being discussed and analyzed especially that the value chain offers to SMEs the opportunity to participate in trade by selling goods and services to hotels, restaurants, tour operators and others service providers directly involved in tourism. The forum also tabled the notion that Trade in tourism is also about health, education and many more elements and the panel discussed in great detail the best practices in integrating local suppliers into the tourism value chains., thereby supporting income generation in communities. The panel also explored developing country opportunities in Meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) tourism.
During the panel discussions the Seychelles Minister Alain St.Ange to great applause form the full house of delegates and press addressed the issue of the need of an Africa Brand. The Seychelles Minister said that Africa must work with Africa to help break the too often negative perception that exists on and about Africa. Minister cited as an example the current ebola crisis where the whole of Africa is today suffering economically as a result because of the perception that Africa is but a small country. “Even Seychelles situated in the middle of an ocean, far and so really so far from any of the affected countries was today being hit by hotel cancellations from China, let alone the new travel difficulties within Africa. We need an Africa Brand that spells out what is Africa, its key USPs, its diversity and its uniqueness of its people and culture. We need a map of Africa by Africa to explain where we stand every time we have a challenging situation that affects our continent” the Seychelles Minister said.