OFFICIAL ACCEPTANCE SPEECH OF ACADEMICIAN ISMAIL OMAR GUELLEH ON HIS ADMISSION IN EUROPEAN TOURISM ACADEMY
OFFICIAL DECLARATION OF
H.E. ISMAIL OMAR GUELLEH
PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF DJIBOUTI ON THE OCCASION OF HIS ELEVATION TO THE HONOUR OF ACADEMICIAN
Mr. President, Professor Dr. Anton Caragea,
It is with great joy and pride that I welcome this distinction.
Through me, it is Djibouti and its population that you just honor. Therefore, first of all, Mr. President, on behalf of the people of Djibouti, I thank you personally as well as the academy that you are leading for this mark of trust and esteem that you show us.
This distinction, Mr. President, as meritorious as it may be, we take it neither as a consecration nor as a reward. But as an encouragement. An encouragement to persevere on the path that we have traced in the development of tourism.
It is always rewarding to be supported in its efforts, especially by an institution like yours that has always defended a vision of tourism and culture centered on the human.
Ladies and gentlemen
There are different ways to define and perceive Djibouti and its people.
Some speak of us as a pebble in the middle of the desert. Others, no doubt nostalgic of a colonial era yet gone, we reduce to a sign on which is written "Territory of the Afars and Issas".
The most innovative identify us with a geostrategic basis for the military powers.
But fortunately for us, ladies and gentlemen, there are still many people around the world who do not reduce us to these anachronistic clichés and labels.
For us and for all those citizens of the world who have had the opportunity to stay in our country, Djibouti, it is this land of meetings and exchanges at the confluence of all roads, maritime, land and air.
For us and for all these citizens of the world, Djibouti is a story and even a prehistory that geology, geography and archeology keep telling through times and ages.
Those who marveled at the pristine beauty of the Lac Abbé, those who accompanied a caravan on the ice floe of Lake Assal, those there have the feeling of what is Djibouti. And it is probably because they felt the magic of a captivating space that Tazief and Rimbaud spoke in their time of "a book of open geology" and "a lunar landscape".
Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen
We are therefore looking forward today to this international recognition of our country as "World Capital of Culture and Tourism".
Our country contains sites that are well worth detours. I mentioned Lake Assal and Lac Abbé earlier, but I could have mentioned the prehistoric frescoes of Abourma or the primary Forest du Day.
I could also mention the extraordinary biodiversity of our flora and fauna which includes endemic species such as Djibouti Francolin or Beira gazelle.
I could also mention the extraordinary cultural richness of our communities. These nomads rooted in their territories. But also these citizens who are the fruits of a historic melting pot, and which makes Djibouti a haven of tolerance and living together.
Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen,
In our development strategy for our country, we are very sensitive to the benefits of tourism, its impact on growth, and its role in the fight against poverty. In a decade and thanks to all the efforts made to increase its attractiveness, our country has more than quadrupled the proportion of tourists.
Naturally, the Government is encouraging this job-creating dynamic for our youth and generating foreign currency for our economy. So much so that we have not hesitated to build the tourism industry as one of the economic pillars of the 2035 vision.
In the frenzied global competition that drives the tourism sector, we want to remain lucid to avoid falling into certain pitfalls.
We do not want to sacrifice to all-tourism territories and ecosystems that we know as fragile.
We do not want to build this still burgeoning sector on an economic model that plunders and torpedoes the ecological balance of territories and populations.
Faced with the short-term and consumerist promises of a tourism industry that often degrades, pollutes and destroys, we want to get out of the Manichean trap of all-tourism or its opposite, for a responsible solution that integrates the tourism industry into a development plan sustainable.
Djibouti has chosen a niche tourism that connects individuals, cultures and civilizations.
The choice of a tourism that has an important role to play in the dialogue of cultures and in living together.
The choice of balance between our development objectives and the indispensable protection of our social, cultural and environmental heritages.
It is a difficult choice whose dividends, although promising, are still meager.
But a choice that my country assumes for the sake of fairness and justice for future generations of our country.
Thank you for your attention!
EUROPEAN TOURISM ACADEMY
The European Tourism Academy is charged with proposing an European tourism strategy up to 2020.