#TourismRestart: Emirates touches down to a warm welcome in Seychelles

(Seychelles News Agency) - One hundred and seventy passengers -- both visitors and Seychellois -- landed in Seychelles on Saturday on board the first commercial passenger flight since the COVID-induced travel shutdown.

Emirates flight EK705 from Dubai touched down at 6.30 a.m., the first plane to arrive after Seychelles reopened its borders on Aug. 1.

The Seychelles International Airport was closed to commercial passenger flights in March amid travel restrictions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the 115-island nation in the western Indian Ocean.

Following safety protocols set up by the health authority and the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA), passengers were asked to leave the plane in batches of 30 to undergo the usual procedures required at the immigration desks.

Furthermore, each passenger had their temperature checked and screened for any COVID-19 related symptoms.

Media personnel were not allowed to speak to passengers.

The tourism minister, Didier Dogley, told assembled reporters that the process was a bit slow as this was the first time these procedures are being implemented.

Passengers were asked to leave the plane in batches of 30 to undergo the usual procedures required at the immigration desks. (Salifa Karapetyan, Seychelles News Agency)

"We expected that to start off, things are going slow because this is the first time, but over the week people will be able to move a little bit faster. Most importantly, we want everything to be done correctly," said Dogley.

He outlined that workers at the airport were all wearing masks, maintaining the advised social distance and practising good hygiene.

"They do not have any fear that we were expecting them to have. They are taking their work seriously and have confidence in what they are doing and this is key for us. We are on the right track," said Dogley.

He outlined that his ministry will be debriefed, probably on Monday, on how things went for each authority present for the reopening of the airport.

Aside from officers working with the passengers, a group of representatives from destination management companies, hotels, and taxi drivers were also present to transfer passengers to their respective accommodations.

A taxi driver, Barry Pillay, told SNA that he is proud and happy to be back at work.

"I hope that everything goes right and that everyone gets the chance to do their job. When it comes to wearing masks and practising good hygiene, we attended a seminar last Saturday which was very fruitful. I am more than ready to put everything I learned there into practice," said Pillay.

A second commercial passenger flight is expected to land in Seychelles at 6 p.m. Saturday as Air Seychelles returns from Mauritius.

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