Seychelles is hosting a training workshop on sustainable tourism, with a particular focus on energy efficiency.
The two and a half day workshop hosted by the Tourism Department was officially opened on Wednesday December 13, 2017, at the Coral Strand Smart Choice Hotel at Beau Vallon.
Two experts from the Netherlands organisation for applied scientific research (TNO) – Juan Avellaner and Alba Camacho — are facilitating the workshop.
TNO has partnered with UNDP’s Aruba Centre of Excellence for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) as part of a project that aims to provide technical support for sustainable development among SIDS. The UNDP’s Aruba Centre of Excellence for Small Island Developing States was established in 2016, with the financial support of the Dutch government.
Seychelles is among seven countries — including Belize, Antigua, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Vanuatu and Samoa — chosen out of 25 countries that participated in a workshop organised in Aruba last year, as part of this initiative.
All seven countries are benefitting from technical expertise and experience in sustainable development, while each country is placing emphasis on a particular issue, ranging from energy efficiency for the tourism sector, waste and water management, among others.
“The selection was done per region and we believe Seychelles is a good representative of the region. The idea is that the knowledge being created here can be shared with other islands in the region,” said Ms Camacho.
Aside of facilitating the workshop, the two experts have met with local stakeholders and have also been introduced to some of the initiatives geared towards sustainable tourism, including the Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Label (SSTL) certification for hotels.
Both Ms Camacho and Mr Avellaner have described the SSTL certification as a very good tool to encourage hotels to move towards a more sustainable approach.
“We have visited two hotels, at least one was very advanced and the other is on the way. We imagine that the rest of the hotels are at least beginning the process, that is very important,” said Mr Avellaner.
A sustainable hotel is one whose energy cost does not exceed 30 percent of its total operating cost, according to the two experts, who have highlighted a number of technologies that can help to reduce energy consumptions, including LED lights, inverter and centralised air conditioning systems, solar panels, among others.
All of this expertise and best practices will be shared with the participants of the workshop who are representing a number of government bodies, non-governmental organisations, and hotels.
These include the Tourism Department, University of Seychelles (UniSey), students enrolled on the Master’s in Sustainable Management at UniSey, Sustainability for Seychelles (S4S), Seychelles Energy Commission, the Coral Strand Smart Choice, Berjaya Beau Vallon Bay, Hilton Seychelles Labriz, Six Senses Zil Pasyon, CaranaBeach Hotel, the Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Foundation and Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change.
In her opening address, the Principal Secretary for Tourism, Anne Lafortune, said Seychelles is proud to be among the seven countries selected for this project.
“We acknowledge that being a Small Island Developing State we are vulnerable to external factors due to our size, location and exposure to global environmental challenges including the impact of climate change, hence finding the right balance for sustainable development in SIDS is imperative and recognised worldwide,” said Mrs Lafortune.
She remarked that such training will provide the insight on the way forward as Seychelles being an island state, with limited resources and that relies heavily on tourism strives to preserve the resources, including its unspoiled nature and biodiversity.
“As you are aware our main focus for this training is energy efficiency. This is an area we believe should be explored due to high demand in the tourism sector. Seychelles welcomes any recommendations, alternatives, and proposals in this field that can be implemented in our tourism establishments, as well as in the country. It is in this light that we hope this two-day exchange will provide us with insights and equip us with necessary tools to plan ahead and make our industry a successful one,” she added.
Sustainable versus conventional tourism, Seychelles’ transition to energy efficiency – the barriers and opportunities that exist, managing and monitoring energy efficiency, are among the topics that will be covered.
The workshop will end on Friday with the presentation of findings and the way forward, as the aim of the project spearheaded by the UNDP’s Aruba Centre of Excellence for Small Island Developing States, is to create roadmaps for SIDS and to develop a virtual platform for knowledge exchange and networking.