Better cooperation and exchanges are expected in the field of tourism between Seychelles and South Africa after the two countries’ respective tourism boards signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) at the INDABA trade fair earlier this month in Durban.
The MOU was signed on behalf of Seychelles by the Minister for Tourism and Culture, Alain St Ange and Sthembiso Dlamini, the Acting Chief Executive Officer of the South African Tourism Board.
Several talks and discussions were held between the two bodies in the past year, leading up to the realisation of this agreement which now covers numerous areas of prolific cooperation between them.
In the presence of several representatives of both tourism boards, the agreement was signed and toasted to as both Minister St Ange and Ms Dlamini said they look forward to further strengthen ties and enhance cooperation between the two countries.
The agreement promotes promotional efforts and collaboration in developing the tourism industry of both countries as they seek to: jointly position Seychelles and South Africa as touristic destinations and increase their market profiles as preferred destinations; collaborate on marketing activities, tourism campaigns and travel trade promotions aimed at increasing the market share of both countries; provide access to each other’s pool of marketing intelligence especially to increase the marketing efficiencies of both countries; collaborate on efforts to increase the countries’ exposure in the global market and improve communication between the two parties in order to foster a closer working relationship.
Minister St Ange, who has been instrumental in pushing for such an agreement between the two bodies, reiterated of why he felt ‘Africa should work with Africa’, if the continent is to move forward and be a more attractive product on the international tourist market.
“South Africa has been and remains a strong source market for Seychelles and it is a country with which we share excellent relations. But there are more we can do for each other and this agreement will lead the way to better cooperation and exchanges between the two parties, which will help to position both destinations at a new level on the international tourist market,” he said.
Ms Dlamini also spoke of the need to work together in order to develop a common approach to developing the two countries’ tourism plan and strategies.
“Collaboration is central to all we endeavour to do as SA Tourism to grow and support the tourism industry in the country, and on the continent. We are very excited that our initial discussions with the Seychelles have borne fruit in the form of this MOU. We are looking forward to future engagement to realise our shared vision of taking our destinations to new levels of success.”
Ecoluxury properties join Unique Lodges of the World
Since its launch in January 2015, National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World has nearly doubled the number of properties in its impressive collection. There are now properties in the Canadian High Arctic, Brazil’s Atlantic Forest, the Seychelles, the mountains of northern Greece and beyond.
The collection began with 24 charter members and accepted 14 in June and seven over the past few months, bringing it to 45 lodges — and counting.
These extraordinary properties were selected for their leadership in sustainable tourism, commitment to protecting cultural and natural heritage and for the outstanding guest service and experiences they offer. They must undergo a rigorous vetting process and a site audit to become part of the collection.
The latest lodges joining the collection include Fregate Island Private, Seychelles, Churchill Wild – Seal River Heritage Lodge, Canada, Aristi Mountain Resort and Villas, Greece, Tiamo Resort, Bahamas, Reserva do Ibitipoca, Brazil, Banyan Tree Ringha, China and Lone Mountain Ranch, Montana, U.S.
With the additions this past year come a wide range of new opportunities for travelers, such as walking safaris with world-class guides at The Bushcamp Company in Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park, horseback riding and hiking in the shadow of a volcano at Mexico’s Hacienda de San Antonio, and cooking classes with a renowned chef in Alaska’s backcountry at Winterlake Lodge. At all of the properties in the collection, guests who book their stay through the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World online site are treated to a special, exclusive experience, such as a meeting with the son of a traditional shaman at Pacuare Lodge in Costa Rica, or a private catered dinner in a grove of ancient milkwood trees at South Africa’s Grootbos Private Nature Reserve.
The owners and managers of the lodges are some of the world’s leading minds in sustainable tourism.
At a gathering of members in May 2015, topics of discussion included an air conditioning system run on coconut oil and deep sea water at the Brando in French Polynesia, and an initiative at Sukau Rainforest Lodge in Malaysian Borneo to ward off wild elephants using bees—creating an income generator for local communities while reducing conflicts between humans and wildlife.
“We built National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World to serve as a shining example of sustainable tourism around the world, and we are thrilled to see the remarkable growth of the collection this past year. By providing such fantastic guest experiences while demonstrating how travel can be a force for good, we hope to elevate sustainable tourism and inspire others to join us,” said Lynn Cutter, National Geographic’s executive vice president for Travel. “We look forward to providing travelers with even broader array of unique opportunities around the world as we continue to expand our collection in the years to come.”
Pretoria – South Africa has been ranked first in Sub-Saharan Africa on the biennial World Economic Forum Travel’s global Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index (TTCI) 2015 released in Geneva, Switzerland.
Snatching the zenith from Seychelles in the Sub-Saharan Africa category, South Africa was ranked at number 48 globally, while the archipelago of islands was second in the region and followed at a somewhat distant 54 on the world stage.
Seychelles topped the regional rankings in the 2013 report and was at 38 globally, when South Africa held positions 3 and 64.
Mauritius was placed third in the region this year, followed by Namibia, Kenya, Cape Verde, Botswana, Tanzania, Rwanda and Zambia respectively as the Sub-Saharan top ten of 2015.
On the global front, Spain was ranked at the apex, followed by France and then Germany.
Other traditional travel and tourism destinations – the United States, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Australia, Italy, Japan and Canada – made up the rest of the global top ten.
Compared with other Brics countries, South Africa (at 48 globally) was rated better only than New Delhi. Brazil was ranked 28, Russia 45, India 52 and China was at an enviable 17 on the global front.
“The diversity in the top 30 shows that a country does not have to be wealthy to have a flourishing tourism sector,” said Roberto Crotti, an Economist at the World Economic Forum. “But many countries should still do more to tackle travel and tourism challenges, including visa policies, better promotion of cultural heritage, environmental protection and ICT readiness. This, in turn, would drive economic growth and the creation of jobs.”
The report contains detailed country profiles, benchmarking for the 141 economies featured in the study. It includes a comprehensive summary of their overall positions in the index and a guide to the most prominent travel and tourism advantages and disadvantages of each. Also included is an extensive selection of tables that cover each indicator used in the index’s computation.
The report’s executive summary states that many countries in the Sub-Saharan region “are working on their openness and visa policies, though the longstanding challenges of infrastructure and health and hygiene standards need to be tackled to unleash the potential of the T&T (travel and tourism) sector as a catalyst for development”.
Published under the theme “Growing through Shocks”, the full edition of the 2015 report features three additional chapters authored by leading experts and practitioners in the hospitality and tourism sector.
Among other key findings, the 2015 edition shows that the tourism and travel industry continues to grow more quickly than the global economy as a whole. As proof of its resilience, the analysis shows that the sector’s growth- whether in terms of global air passenger traffic, occupancy rates or international arrivals – tends to return to trend quickly after a shock.
The report ranks the 141 countries across 14 separate dimensions, revealing how well countries could deliver sustainable economic and societal benefits through their travel and tourism sector. Spain’s leadership position is attributed to a world class ranking in cultural resources (number 1 globally); its ability to support online searches for entertainment (4th), a measure of how well the country has adapted to consumption habits brought on by the digital revolution; as well as excellent infrastructure (4th).
The World Economic Forum produced the report in collaboration with Strategy & Bloom consulting, Deloitte, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the United Nations World Tourism Organisation and the World Travel & Tourism Council.