A young Seychellois warden shared with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) that tourism has helped him to understand different cultures and appreciate his own even more.
Called #MyAfrica, the social media campaign by UNWTO seeks to showcase the power of tourism through the personal stories of inspirational people working in the tourism sector in Africa by gathering their stories, learning from them and sharing them with the world.
In his interview with UNWTO, the senior warden on Cousin Island, Christopher Mahoune, said that he chose to work in a tourism-related field as he has always been passionate about the wildlife of Seychelles.
"Locally I participated in a lot of environmental activities and it was always a pleasure to share and educate others about why it is important to protect our heritage. Growing up I felt like I needed a bigger stage and a bigger crowd to showcase the beauty that is Seychelles," said Mahoune.
"So, I chose to work in a field related to tourism and over the past 10 years I have guided thousands of people from all over the world educating them about the importance of conservation and ecotourism," he continued.
Mahoune joined the warden team on Cousin Island straight after completing his studies at the Seychelles Maritime Academy. During his day-to-day work on Cousin, he is involved in the island's ecotourism programme.
He transfers guests on and off the island, brings them on a tour of the nature reserve while communicating with the visitors in English and French. He is also charged with ensuring their safety and comfort while on the island.
Outside of ecotourism, Mahoune has been involved in the conservation programme and mentoring younger Seychellois wardens and students who are on internships. He is also a passionate nature photographer and has taken hundreds of photos of the island, which are used for education and marketing.
Mahoune said that "working in tourism all these years has helped me gain more confidence in what I preach."
"I used to be very conservative and this line of work helped me to become more open and more of a people person. It has helped me to understand different cultures and also to appreciate mine even more," outlined Mahoune.
Talking about the aim of the campaign, UNWTO secretary-general Zurab Pololikashvili outlined that "through listening to first-hand stories, we learn from their experiences and create a platform to discover Africa through a human angle."
"African countries have demonstrated a commendable determination in making tourism a strong ally of sustainable growth for millions in the region. Now is time for them to speak up and share the stories that showcase the best of Africa as a world-class tourist destination," said Pololikashvili.
A 'unique cultural experience' is how Mahoune described Africa as a diverse tourist destination.
Interested persons wanting to take part in the campaign can still do so by answering three questions on video - Why did you choose to work in tourism or in a field related to tourism? How has tourism helped you grow? In three words, describe Africa as a diverse tourist destination.
The recorded video and a transcription of it have to then be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org before December 31, with the subject #MyAfrica. Participants need to state their name and country of residence as well.