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2015 ICTC Annual Meeting and Study Tour in Seychelles


World Heritage & Cultural Tourism Planning & Management: Culture & Development in the African Region Seychelles, Mauritius, Reunion & Madagascar
24-28 October 2015, Mahé, Seychelles

ICOMOS ISC Cultural Tourism would like to record its thanks to the Seychelles Ministry of Tourism & Culture and the Seychelles Heritage Foundation for making possible the important ICTC Workshop & International Expert Seminar in the Seychelles in 2015. The financial support was important but so too was the warm welcome from colleagues from the Ministry & SHF. The success of this event is etched in the memories of ICTC members who attended and reflected in the on-going debates on cultural tourism and interpretation at places of memory in a fragmented world.

UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List: Mission Ruins of Venn's Town, Mahé, Seychelles ICOMOS International Cultural Tourism Committee (ICTC) members joined with ICOMOS Seychelles and heritage and tourism professionals from the East African Region to explore, discuss, and debate issues relating to world heritage and cultural tourism development in the Seychelles and wider Region of East Africa and the islands of the Indian Ocean. Community involvement, governance, management and interpretation were addressed within the broader aim of developing a synergistic approach to natural and cultural landscapes, improving conservation and communication practices whilst expanding the benefits of tourism – social, economic, cultural and environmental – particularly for the Seychellois. The discussion had the pending nomination of the Mission Ruins of Venn’s Town to the World Heritage List as an overarching organizing theme and case study.

ICOMOS ICTC mbers with H.E. Alain St Ange, Minister for Tourism & Culture, Seychelles, and delegates from Seychelles, Madagascar, Mauritius and Réunion, at the opening of the World Heritage & Cultural Tourism Development Expert Seminar & Workshop, Mission Lodge, Mahé Island, Seychelles, October 19, 2015 The Mission Ruins of Venn’s Town situated on Mahé Island, Seychelles, were inscribed on the UNESCO meWorld Heritage Tentative List in 2013

Official opening of “ICOMOS International Seminar” and start of the Kreole Festival - Mission Lodge Heritage Site – Sans Souci
The official opening ceremony was held at Mission Ruins (Venn’s Town) Sans Souci and attended by international dignitaries including the French Ambassador and British High Commissioner. His Excellency, the Minister for Tourism & Culture Mr Alain St Ange, welcomed ICOMOS ISC Cultural Tourism (ICTC) and expressed the Seychelles Government’s commitment and support for the nomination of Mission Ruins as a UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Site. He expressed his view that the site would add significantly to the conservation and communication of Seychellois heritage and current understanding of the roots of a specific Seychellois Creole language and cultural identity. 

Today the Seychelles is a leading centre of Creole research and cultural exchange globally as evidenced by the Annual Kreol Festival now in its 30th year. He made reference to the immense success of the Seychelles’ other natural UNESCO World Heritage site - Vallée de Mai, Praslin Island - famous for the coco de mer.

Addresses were also given by Mr Patrick Nanty CEO (Seychelles Heritage Foundation) & Chairman of ICOMOS Seychelles and Sue Millar, President, ICOMOS ISC Cultural Tourism. The speakers were invited to plant Sandragon trees. First planted at the site in 1875 these magnificent trees were subject to disease and a replacement conservation planting programme is in progress.

Delegates were invited to view the Exhibition on ‘Slavery in Seychelles’ in the Lobby – National Cultural Centre, Victoria and the Opening ceremony of the “Zenn Artis Lemonn Kreolofonn” exhibition, in the Upper Lobby – National Cultural Centre, Victoria (A Painting Exhibition by young artists from Creole speaking countries on ‘Jobs evolution’.)

As Co-Chairs of ICOMOS ICTC & ICOMOS Seychelles Workshop 2015, Patrick Nanty, President, ICOMOS Seychelles and Sue Millar, President ICOMOS ISC on Cultural Tourism presented the formal seminar programme which began in the afternoon. Seminar Participants moved to the Seychelles Trading Company (STC) Conference room, Victoria, capital city of Mahé.

ICOMOS ICTC participants also included: Ivan Henares, Philippines, Vice-President; Jim Donovan, USA, Secretary-General; Expert Members: Luisa Ambrósio, Portugal, Maria Gravari-Barbas & Michèle Prats, France; Ian Kelly & Agnieshka Kiera, Australia; Laima Nomeikaite, Norway; Noel Salazar, Belgium; Aysegul Yilmaz, Turkey; Jonathan Karkut UK.

First we were introduced to cultural heritage conservation and tourism in the Seychelles with its combined focus on the tangible and intangible cultural heritage. A presentation on Venn’s Town UNESCO World Heritage Nomination Dossier was given by Gabriel Essack, Technical Adviser to the National Heritage Research Section, Ministry of Tourism & Culture followed by Maxwell Julie, Seychelles Heritage Foundation who introduced their conservation work with special reference to involving young people and developing fund raising initiatives through public and private partnerships – a relatively new approach in the Seychelles. Marcel Rosalie told us about the community participation and the District Award Scheme run by the Ministry of Tourism & Culture.

International invitees from the East African Region hosted by the Seychelles Government presented papers offering insights into cultural heritage conservation and tourism in the region. They included Dr Webber N’Doro, Secretary General, African World Heritage Foundation (AWHF), a Category II Centre under the auspices of UNESCO. In this presentation Dr N’Doro expressed the concern that the economic advantages of tourism revenues were not benefitting the communities themselves – especially in South African townships.

Dr Roland Dutel, responsible for ecotourism in the Reunion National Park & world Heritage site pointed out the economic strengths of being part of France and the European Union. He explained their philosophy: “Le concept de l’interprétation des patrimoines est largement utilisé pour concevoir les actions... Le principe étant que le « touriste vient pour le mon marchand qui déclenche le marchand”.

Mr Shivajee Dowlutrao, National Trust Fund, Mauritius, discussed the Le Morne cultural landscape inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2008. The site represents witness to ‘maroonage’ or resistance to slavery. The mountainous landscape was used as a fortress to shelter escaped slaves. It remains a pertinent symbol of slaves ‘fight for freedom’, their suffering and their sacrifices. Mr Hugues Randrianjohany, a tourism expert from Madagascar highlighted Madagascar's Heritage Conservation Strategies to promote tourism in his country.

ICTC Expert Seminar: World Heritage & Cultural Tourism Planning & Management Inclusive Approaches to Dissonant Heritage & Conflicting Interpretation

Chair – Sue Millar, President ICOMOS ISC Cultural Tourism Rapporteurs - Jim Donovan, USA, Luisa Ambrosio, Portugal, Laima Nomeikaite, Norway 

ICTC’s Expert Seminar offered participants the opportunity to engage in discussion and debates on a range of issues relating to culture and tourism development at World Heritage sites in the Seychelles, nearby islands of Mauritius & Reunion and wider East African Region. Our seminar seeks to share the expertise and experience of ICTC cultural heritage and tourism professionals with regional colleagues.

Whereas Mission Lodge Ruins, Mahé Island – currently on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List - is the main on-site case study, the expert seminar sought to broaden the debate by exploring issues and examining what has worked (or failed) in other parts of the world.

Evolving the vision for Mission Lodge Ruins and writing the Nomination dossier requires vision, expertise and determination in equal measure. ICTC is supporting the realisation of a vision that has begun with acceptance onto the Tentative List and we envisage the Seychelles concluding with the inscription of Mission Lodge, Sans Souci, onto the World Heritage List. A robust application is required to take into account tourism development that is sustainable. The protection and safe-guarding a sense of place, resonance of history, associated with the ruins are a priority.

The framework of the seminar covered five main sub-themes within the overarching theme of culture & development and in the context of the recently published UN Sustainable Development Goals 2015 - 2030. 
  • Supporting UNESCO World Heritage nominations upstream 
  • Examining the relationship between natural and cultural heritage sites 
  • Determining the role of communities in uninhabited areas 
  • Investigating the part played by interpretation in tackling issues of contested / conflicting identities - including slavery and colonisation 
  • Bringing together the tangible and intangible heritage in sustainable tourism development.

The seminar programme was in two parts:
1. World Heritage Nominations: Creole Context & Management Tools
  • Michèle Prats, France, ‘French Creole Cultures: A mixed tropical heritage’
  • Ian Kelly, Australia, an overview of the Burra Charter: The Australia ICOMOS Charter for Places of Cultural Significance (2013)

2. Round Table: Inclusive Approaches to Dissonant Heritage & Conflicting Interpretation -presentations and discussion a long conversation.

  • Professor Maria Gravari-Barbas, France, Contested heritage: some issues concerning tourism on sites linked to slavery’
  • Noel B. Salazar, Belgium, Sustainable world heritage tourism: The importance of pluriversal
  • Jonathan Karkut, Inclusive approaches to dissonant heritage and conflicting interpretations
  • Agnieshka Kiera, An examination of the relationship between natural and cultural heritage sites’ and interpretation of contested/conflicting identities – the case study of the Old Port Project, Arthur Head Reserve, Fremantle
  • Ayşegül Yılmaz, Turkey, Governance, Management, Community Engagement and Cultural Tourism Development in Heritage Contexts - Three Cases from Turkey
  • Jonathan Karkut, Making a positive contribution to: World Heritage and Cultural Tourism Development: Inclusive approaches to dissonant heritage and conflicting interpretations
  • Laima Nomeikaite, Norway, Cultural heritage and organizing capacity: a case study of the town of Allariz, North-Western Spain
  • Ivan Henares, Philippines, Indigenous Cultural Tourism Program in Agusan, Philippines

Documents: Seminar Report

Prepared by Sue Millar (President), Jim Donovan (Secretary-General), Luisa Ambrosio (Portugal), Laima Nomeikaite (Norway), 2016