Nature Seychelles was last week at the tourism fair organised as part of activities to mark World Tourism Day. Held at the International Conference Centre, the fair was used as an avenue to promote sustainable energy within the tourism industry. It saw the participation of local firms working in this area, the hotels and hospitality industry, local NGOs and others. World Tourism Day 2012 was held under the theme Tourism & Sustainable Energy: Powering Sustainable Development. The year’s theme aims to highlight tourism’s role in sustainable energy.
“One of the world’s largest economic sectors, tourism is especially well-placed to promote environmental sustainability, green growth and our struggle against climate change through its relationship with energy,” said UN Sectretary General Ban Ki Moon.
Nature Seychelles used the fair to advertise the carbon neutral status of Cousin Island Special Reserve and to share tips on energy saving with fair attendees.
Since 2010, the organisation has embarked on a journey to make Cousin Island Reserve, which it manages, carbon neutral. "Simply put we are investing in carbon credits to offset our footprint estimated at 1300 tonnes," Kerstin Henri, the Director of Operations explained.
Cousin's footprint was calculated by looking at the island's operations, including its use of efficient technology, its visitor footprint - calculated as a percentage of visitor travel to Seychelles (this includes international flights, hotel accommodation and internal transfers) and the carbon sequestered by Cousin's own forest, which was worked out and netted against the footprint.
"The final footprint was then offset through the purchase of credits in clean projects on the African continent - in Darfur, Sudan and now in Uganda," said Ms. Henri. "We have also invested in projects in Brazil and Indonesia. Landing fees collected from visitors to island are used to purchase the credits. In our own small way we have become donors, supporting worthwhile projects in other countries."
"Making Cousin carbon neutral is an important tool helping us to market ourselves and Seychelles in a positive manner," she added.
The opening of the tourism fair was marked by a presentation on sustainable energy from Dimitry Turpin of the Energy Commission. Local firm Clean Plus made a presentation on "green" cleaning products for the hospitality industry.
The occasion was also used to award seven assessors with certification under the Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Label; a sustainable tourism management and certification programme designed specifically for use in Seychelles. It is voluntary, and designed to inspire more efficient and sustainable ways of doing business within the industry.
The label, said the chief executive of the Seychelles Tourism Board, Elsia Grandcourt, if seriously adopted and carried through can become a powerful marketing tool with which to attract future business to Seychelles. "Please ensure that you take a moment to understand what it means, what it can do for you and how it can strengthen the industry upon which we and our children will continue to depend,” she told attendees.