Last week, Alain St. Ange, Minister for Tourism and Culture for the Seychelles, was honoured to be appointed Senior Advisor for the development of marine ecotourism of the Nias Islands in Indonesia in the Indian Ocean.

The partnership was launched by Mr Nico Barito, the Seychelles’ Special Envoy for ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), who suggested presenting the Seychelles’ success in developing marine ecotourism to ASEAN’s smaller islands. As the largest nation in ASEAN, Indonesia has more than 17,000 islands and its archipelago extends from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.

The partnership programme with the Nias Islands began in 2014 with the Governor of North Sumatra and has been supported by various Indonesian ministers. The Nias archipelago is made up of 150 islands in the Indian Ocean, with a main island of 5,120 square kilometres, home to just under a million people.

ARTICLE-Partenariat global au-delà des Îles Vanille
ARTICLE-Partenariat global au-delà des Îles Vanille

The Indian Ocean surrounds one of the most spectacular surf spots in the world in Pulau Nias in Indonesia, an imposing but solitary rock off the north coast of Sumatra. Surfers have flocked there for decades to enjoy the incredible waves which have made this remote island a key destination on the international surf circuit. Beyond the waves, the ancient megalithic monuments and traditional architecture on the island have a real anthropological interest.

Mr Barito said that the Seychelles were a niche tourist destination which had remained unspoilt and confirmed that the government did not want to build any further in the Seychelles. The recent success of the Seychelles’ tourism industry has made it possible for the island’s tourism administration to earn more by sharing its experience and working with other small tropical islands, particularly in the Indian Ocean as part of the Vanilla Islands. That’s why Indonesia is hoping to benefit from the expertise of the Seychelles and the Vanilla Islands.

This joint partnership will enhance the Seychelles’ international brand image and give Seychellois residents the opportunity to see tourism continuing to develop outside the country’s islands, showing the world that although the Seychelles is a small country, other tourist destinations are now keen to develop co-branding partnerships with it. “This will contribute to the Seychellois’ sense of pride and ensure that the Seychelles is not only admired for its marine ecotourism values but also for its campaigns to promote the blue economy to other small islands, helping to save the planet and protect marine biodiversity and Mother Nature’s legacy,” said Nico Barito.

Last week, he presented Minister Alain St. Ange with official documents from the Government of the Nias Island, announcing his appointment as Senior Advisor on the development of small islands’ marine ecotourism. The Seychelles’ Special Envoy for ASEAN mentioned that the Seychelles’ reputation and success have been recognised by the tourism industry and now open the door for the Ministry for Tourism of the Seychelles to continue to develop consultancy projects similar to those with Nias Island, other small islands in Indonesia known as the Derawan islands in the Coral Triangle and the resorts of thousands of islands off the coast of the city of Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital.

Cultural groups from the governments of North Sumatra and the Nias Islands took part in the Seychelles Carnival in 2012 and 2014. When he received the documents for his official appointment, Minister Alain St.Ange announced that the country had succeeded in exporting its culture. “Today, the doors are opening for us to continue our journey, because our tourism industry is a success. The whole world has recognised our success and our expertise is sought after because of it. That should make everyone in the Seychelles proud,” said Minister Alain St. Ange.

The next step of this process will be a formal meeting with Indonesian government members early next year which will pave the way for consultants from the Seychelles to sign contracts and agreements with the Nias Islands in Indonesia.