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13th January, 2017.
Mr. Alain St.Ange

UNWTO Election: Why St.Ange is the Man to Beat

By Gbenga Oluboye

The contest for the UNWTO top job has begun in earnest and there are many candidates jostling take over from Dr. Taleb Rifai when his term office comes to a close in September 2017.

Among these candidates that have expressed their interests in taking the reins of leadership in the world tourism regulatory body, Mr. Alain St.Ange stands tall.

The credential of Mr. Alain goes before him; he has been able to turn around the fortunes of Seychelles tourism and there is no doubt he will not repeat the same feat on the global stage, if given an opportunity.

His achievements cut across the whole gamut of travel including aviation, where he successfully ensured the arrival of extra flights and airlines or planes serving the Seychelles routes.

This is considered a landmark achievement considering that Seychelles tourism suffered a major setback a few years ago when airlines exited the Island. These are a few of the achievements of St. Ange as Minister of Tourism for Seychelles; this is even as the Island has recorded growth in tourists arrivals.

Despite his resignation from office to pursue his ambition to serve as UNWTO boss, has not diminished the path he has established for tourism development on the Island. For instance, Seychelles tourism is forecast to record a 10% in 2017.

Alain St.Ange joined the Government of Seychelles in early 2009 as Director of Marketing at the Seychelles Tourism Board and a year later, in June 2010, he was promoted to the position of CEO of the Tourism Board under the Office of the President.

Barely two years as CEO of the Tourism Board, St.Ange achievements were too significant to ignore; he was elevated to the position of Minister of Tourism and Culture in March 2012.

Even when there was cabinet reshuffle in 2016, his star was not dimmed rather he was given more responsibility with added portfolio as Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine.

His achievements on the Island have also elicited regional and global attention. This has culminated in his election in 2012 as the first President of the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands Regional Organization comprising the islands of La Reunion, Madagascar, Mauritius, Comoros, Mayotte, Maldives and Seychelles.

Subsequently, in 2013 he was elected to the board of the UNWTO Executive Council. St. Ange has a different orientation to competition; he believes that competition should be encompassed with cooperation and there is more to gain if the Islands work together to grow their tourism cake.

On the other hand St.Ange has been recognised for his contribution to tourism development in Seychelles and transformation of the tourism landscape in the Indian Ocean region.

Prominent among the numerous awards is the Eminent Achiever Award in Africa awarded to St.Ange at the Travellinks annual anniversary award ceremony held in Ibadan, Nigeria in 2015.

The award is organised in recognition of Africans who have contributed to the promotion and development of tourism on the continent. St Ange;s award, the highest at the ceremony, was received on his behalf by the Seychelles Tourism Board Manager for South Africa, Lena Hoareau.

Judging from his contributions to tourism development in Seychelles and the Indian Ocean region, it would amount to stating the obvious to that St Ange is well cut out for the position of the UNWTO Secretary-General.

If he has done it regionally and globally, he can do it again on the global stage. It is time to stand up for Alain St.Ange.

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