2017 has been declared by the UNWTO (World Tourism Organization) as the year of sustainable tourism. This is significant as tourism is an important catalyst for development particularly for small island states like Seychelles. It provides a unique opportunity to contribute, as well as raise awareness on the three dimensions of sustainability which include the environment, social and economic pillars.
Seychelles has become synonymous with sustainability taking the lead in championing sustainable practices within the region and the world. Since embracing this issue the country has come a long way and over the years various projects have been undertaken with more in the pipelines. Many organisations most notably from the tourism sector are actively engaged in conservation efforts. The development of the SSDS (Seychelles Sustainable Development Strategy) which addresses sustainable tourism, introduction of the SSTL (Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Label) with the aim of making tourism more sustainable by mitigating negative impacts all whilst enhancing their experiences. As of April 23, 2017, the certificate has been officially recognised by the GSTL (Global Sustainable Tourism Council), which helps to reinforce Seychelles commitment to sustainable tourism. The education of youth on the merits of sustainable practices at various levels from kindergarten to tertiary education is helping to shape future leaders of the country and I am proud to be one of them.
So who is this sustainable leader you might ask? Without further ado, My name is Yannick Memee an upcoming entrepreneur and sustainable tourism activist. From a young age I have always been passionate about the environment and tourism. I would often participate in school activities relating to the environment and travel to new places, the wide eye wonder I felt as a child boarding a plane to a new destination hasn’t left me. Just like your first love you never forget these experiences! During my years of studies, I discovered that my two passions complimented each other and this lead me to choose a path in sustainable tourism, which continuously surprises me every day! There is always something new to discover, new experiences to be had and everyday feels like stepping into Narnia.
Always one looking for an adventure I joined the second edition of the Blue Economy Internship, which has given me the privilege of being part of an amazing organisation the SSTF (Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Foundation). A small organisation of three inspirational women with a big task ahead of it, whose vision is to make Seychelles into an example for best practices in sustainable tourism by fostering collaboration between various stakeholders and act focal point for sustainable tourism matters. Despite being constricted by their size, the women behind this initiative have taken this challenge head on. Proving size doesn’t really matter!
My first week has been amazing, I have been to more places on Mahe than I have in my 25 years in Seychelles, I fit perfectly into the definition of the term “Touris Lokal”, from the bustling and eccentric north of Mahe to the laid back, tranquil south. On the very first day we instantly clicked as we all shared a love for the environment and Seychelles, I felt that I had been working there for months. We developed a synergy between us, taking feedback from each other on issues and come up with solutions. Everyone is friendly, and we like to make jokes to keep the office lively, there is never a dull moment! Plus, as a bonus there is always food to share! Looking forward to a new adventure next week!