Despite efforts to woo tourists with flexible COVID-19 safety protocols, Seychelles is still yet to see a turnaround in visitor numbers it had hoped for. This is mainly due to reported cases of new variants of the virus across different parts of the world, which is still hampering travel and tourism.
Principal Secretary of the Department of Tourism under the Ministry of Tourism and Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Sherin Francis stated in a conversation on the VA Tourism Podcast that they had been optimistic about improving Seychelles’ tourism amidst the Covid 19 pandemic by the close of the year but the current situation is grim.
“When we were making assumptions and forecast we were more optimistic that we will be moving up the red list and our situation domestically would improve, which means we will see a much better growth in terms of the second half of the year,” she said.
“In the last four months of the year, when you combine our performance on the secondary market and traditional market we were hoping we close the year with at least a little bit more than 50% but this is starting to look a bit less optimistic now giving the fact that we are in June and we are still in the red list”, she added.
Mrs. Francis said following the reopening of the borders on 25th March 2021, the country’s primary market has been Russia, United Arab Emirates, Isreal, and Germany.
“After the reopening of our borders we have received 10,000 Russian visitors, second is from the UAE with 7,000 visitors and Israel with 6,000 visitors and Germany sits number four on our chat.
“Interestingly, out of the top 10 we have 4 of east European countries; Russia, Ukraine, Poland and Romania,” she emphasised.
With respect to entry requirements, she said “we are getting good feedback from our visitors because our requirement is relatively simple. All you need is a negative PCR test, a certificate to present at your health travel authorization which is done online by an application (app) and health insurance that covers covid 19 related cases as well”.
She added that in promoting Seychelles they have been very aggressive with their various strategies. “We’ve been using social media but we’ve also been using other mediums and getting support from other airlines. Example from Russia, we are getting support from Aeroflot and so we now have a direct flight and a direct flight also plays a crucial role in developing a destination”.
In addition, the Principal Secretary says in their quest to ensure the comfort of visitors, the Seychelles has put strategies in place, which is yet to be implemented, to provide add-on experiences to visitors.
“We’ve planned to diversify in terms of providing other kinds of authentic unique experiences for visitors. The pandemic has delayed our plans in regards to what we wanted to do but the whole idea is to give offerings to our visitors which will give them a reason to come to Seychelles”.
Story by: Samuel Obeng Appah and Emmanuella Asare.