In a press conference held at the Tourism Department Offices at Botanical House on Tuesday December 7, 2021, German extreme swimmer, André Wiersig, confirmed his intention to be the first international athlete to swim from Mahé to La Digue next year in April, shining a light on sustainability in Seychelles by promoting the Ocean as livelihood and habitat.
Present at the conference were founders and CEOs of Tourbookers Mariana Atherton and Felicitas Geiss; Frank Otto, founder of German Ocean Foundation; CEO of Tourbookers Seychelles, Mervin Cedras, as well as two of the Sounding Board members, the Principal Secretary for Tourism, Sherin Francis, and the CEO of the National Sports Council, Jean Larue.
After meeting with the technical team also preparing for the event and completing a swim test in the Seychelles waters, Mr Wiersig stated that he is looking forward to taking the challenge to embark on the longest individual open ocean swimming challenge not only for the Seychelles islands but also in the Indian Ocean, swimming about 15 to 20 hours non-stop and covering approximately 51 km in the ocean.
The extreme swimmer, a well-known marine ambassador and speaker, is the first German swimmer and the sixteenth person worldwide who has successfully completed the Ocean’s Seven, the greatest world challenge in long-distance swimming. An ambassador of the German Ocean Foundation deeply involved in multiple ocean sustainability projects, Mr Wiersig aims, through his participation in the Open Ocean Project, to promote Seychelles’ efforts for sustainability focusing on the ocean as means of support for the local people and habitat for various species including some endangered ones.
“We have to preserve and protect what we love. This project is my contribution towards the bigger ecological movements and through swimming, I aspire to inspire others to protect our ocean. We depend on the ocean, we have to take time to learn about it, as it is not only a nice backdrop. I would like to thank our local partners for their support and invite everyone to come and support this event next April,” said André Wiersig.
The Open Ocean Project will place Seychelles once again on the sports tourism destinations map, NSC CEO Jean Larue commented.
“We welcome André Wiersig and Frank Otto to Seychelles for this amazing event, we are glad they chose our country and have included us as part of the organising committee to bring another sports event that will not only unite our community and our youth but also contribute towards the sustainable efforts of our country. The ocean is our life and we are happy to help our young people discover another world of environmental conservation. I urge our sports enthusiasts and members of our community to come support, swim or at the same time learn about the conservation of our environment,” said Mr Larue.
Ms Atherton from the organising committee stated that there is a lot of interest for Seychelles as a destination and this is an encouragement to push the destination higher through similar events fusing Seychelles tourism, sport and culture.
“As stakeholders of the tourism industry, our connection to Seychelles is a commitment to see this project coming to life. Seychelles is a destination that attracts interest for various events, as we have seen last year through a similar proposal, we are glad that this time around we have not only seen the interest but a concrete investment from all the parties,” said Ms Atherton.
On her part, the Principal Secretary for Tourism highlighted the benefit of hosting the Open Ocean Project in 2022, stating that it will enhance the visibility of Seychelles. The event will showcase the Seychelles islands’ beautiful versatile features as an ideal sports event location, promote its pristine environment, strong stand for sustainability and rich cultural heritage. Mrs Francis added that the project gives the destination an incredible publicity platform, especially on the German market which is one of the traditional markets of the destination.
Mrs Francis added, “Central to the project is our nation’s conservation efforts. With Nekton, we saw the results of decades of conservation through the vast biodiversity of Aldabra, which is unlike any other in the world. This extent of preservation is what we should be witnessing throughout our islands and what we hope to promote with this event.”
Initiated by local affiliated private company TourBookers and Seychelles Chamber of Commerce and Industry in partnership with The German Ocean Foundation. Supported by the Government of Seychelles, the Tourism 3.0 Open Ocean Project is a collaboration between various local partners including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Tourism, Ministry of Youth Sports & Family, Ministry of Environment, Enterprise Seychelles Agency, Seychelles hotel and tourism association and the Department of Culture.
The main event of the Open Ocean Project will be taking place next year in April, where Mr Wiersig will make history.