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First COMESA forum promotes sustainable tourism

Aug 29, 2012: A delegation from Seychelles is back in the country after attending the first ever Tourism Forum by COMESA (Common Market for East and Southern Africa), which was held in the Kenyan Capital, Nairobi, on August 22-24. Most of COMESA member states were present at the forum to discuss several pertinent topics related to the promotion of tourism in the COMESA region.
The Seychelles Tourism Board was represented at the meeting by Joshue César, Manager of its standard and product enhancement section. Phylis Padayachy attended on behalf of Le Meridien Fisherman’s Cove, and from the private sector, Karen Sham-Laye represented the Seychelles Investment Bureau. Also in attendance was the Seychelles Tourism Ambassador for Eastern Africa Jimmy Butt and Walter Talma, COMESA/USAID Program Coordinator.

The meeting touched base on various issues, and each delegation recapped their own observations and experience of their country’s tourism, so that others could benefit from it.

Some of the topics covered were the development of economic opportunities, best practices for sustainable tourism development, tourism policy, and the need to prioritize the sector within the national framework of economic activity.

Also discussed was the relaxation of visa requirements, which will ensure that each country’s immigration authorities develop an appropriate framework to facilitate the adoption of a single tourist visa for the COMESA region.

Developing the sustainable tourism strategy was also featured and encouraged, while issues such as the conservation of biodiversity also featured high on the agenda. How to adopt a sustainable tourism development policy and strategy by the end 2013 was investigated, as all delegates were aware that only an intact environment could sustainably support wildlife and nature-based tourism.

Looking back, Mr. César noted that the forum was very informative, and countries taking part in the forum are more aware of the great potential that a stable tourism industry can have on one’s country’s economy, “As of today, COMESA members need to take a common and regional approach towards a sustainable tourism development and engage in implementing a plan of action, which has been brought forward in the forum.

“For his part, Walter Talma, COMESA/USAID Program Coordinator, who was supporting the Seychelles delegation at the forum, said, “Regional integration in this sector must be part of our intense involvement to create more wealth and economic growth of our member states, noting that tourism is until now still our bread and butter.”

Source: Seychelles Ministry of Tourism & Culture
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