The 8th Seychelles Honorary Consuls’ Conference was held in October 2016, with Seychelles President Danny Faure leaving both consuls general and honorary consuls in no doubt as to their importance in extending their country’s influence around the world.

President Faure explained that he would like to see an expansion of the Seychelles consul network to more locations around the globe, specifically cities in which the country does not currently have representation from its diplomats.

Opening the conference, President Faure declared: “To be a winner in a globalized world order, Seychelles will have to seize opportunities coming its way and take initiatives to advance its own agenda in a win-win context with other countries, regional bodies or international organizations.”

The event took place at the luxurious Savoy Resort and Spa in the northern Beau Vallon district of the island. It brought together 63 of the individuals who perform the important task of representing the archipelago around the world.

Sustainability, collaboration and cooperation: 3 pillars of success

Sustainability was also singled out by President Faure as being a very important practical and aspirational principle that aligns with the Seychelles governmental priorities, and its “vulnerabilities” with regards to the nation’s geographical location.

President Faure explained: “We are a small group of islands nestled in the Indian Ocean. We are therefore exposed to certain vulnerabilities that we must be able to address and remedy. As a result, our greatest resources should be nurtured and harnessed so that we can utilise them effectively without ever shying away from our sustainability objectives. Sustainability is the bedrock of our livelihood.”

Joel Morgan, the Seychelles’ Foreign Affairs and Transport Minister, made an effort to engender a spirit of collaboration and cooperation among the consuls, expressing his belief that an important part of their job is to forge links with other countries. “These initiatives can range from developmental to cultural”, Mr Morgan suggested, “but that economic partnerships are also a huge priority.”

Addressing the consuls, Mr Morgan highlighted the current reality: “In a globalised world, a country can only be on the winning side if it enhances economic cooperation with other nations. It is imperative that we build on the foundations in place and make the most of the mileage we have procured. In this context, we will have a more credible and visible presence in the international arena.”

Tourism: of key economic importance

As a group of idyllic tropical islands, there is no doubt that tourism is a big influencer on the state of the Seychelles economy. However, the island has its competitors in the global market for beach getaways. Thus the point was made to consuls that in order for tourism to continue to benefit the nation, steps must be made to distinguish the Seychelles from its rivals in the holiday sector.

For this purpose, the slogan ‘Seychelles Islands, Another World’ was reinforced as a marketing tool by Mr Morgan, as he revealed that the Seychelles enjoyed a 19% increase in tourism arrivals in 2015.

Mr Morgan cited the partnership between the Seychelles’ national carrier and the Etihad Airways organisation as playing a pivotal role in ensuring transportation for tourists is of the highest standard. He pointed to the four stars awarded by airline and airport watchdog Skytrax as evidence of the continuing quality of the service. As part of the agreement, Seychelles nationals have travelled to Dubai to undergo training in brand new facilities, further expanding their skill set and knowledge base.

Honorary Consuls: must multi-task

President Faure used the conference as an opportunity to remind the consuls of their vital role in utilising the limited resources that the Seychelles has as a small nation. Given the consuls’ limited number compared to the total of countries around the world, he emphasised that they should expect to be ‘multitaskers’ that have to go above and beyond the call of duty.

“Your role even goes beyond the traditional confines of consuls,” expressed President Faure, “From time to time, you are called upon to take on certain diplomatic responsibilities. The limited number of our diplomatic missions, their size and very hectic schedules necessitates that,”

President Faure also took the opportunity to praise the work of the last leader, President Michel, for contributing to a positive image of the Seychelles that has been cultivated around the world. While only a small nation, President Faure underlined that the Seychelles’ input was valued across the wider international community.

Corruption, climate change and the Blue economy

In his status as the new President, President Faure assured attendees that accountability and transparency are high on the agenda for his government, while also focusing on equal opportunities and wealth distribution initiatives.

Other issues on the agenda during the conference included the role that the Seychelles has in climate change, the problem of human trafficking, and the ‘Blue Economy’. The latter being an economic model which aims to collaboratively tackle environmental problems.