Visitors from South Africa will once again be able to board flights to the paradise islands of the Seychelles with effect from Monday, 13 September, the Indian Ocean islands’ Ministry of Health has announced today, 11 September.
In the latest Health Entry and Stay Conditions for Travellers update (V3.5), South Africa is removed from Seychelles’ list of ‘Restricted Countries’, meaning that passengers from South Africa, vaccinated or not, will be allowed entry to the islands without need for quarantine on arrival.
According to the advisory, entry and stay conditions will not be affected by COVID-19 vaccination status, but visitors are strongly encouraged to be fully immunised before travel. Passengers will need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test done within 72h of departure and complete a Health Travel Authorisation at https://seychelles.govtas.com/. They will need to provide proof of valid Travel & Health insurance to cover COVID-19 related quarantine, isolation or treatment.
Visitors from South Africa meeting the above criteria may, whilst they are in Seychelles, stay in any certified tourism establishments with no minimum length of stay in first establishment. They need not take a routine Day 5 surveillance PCR Test2. Conditions for stay for children up to age 17, regardless of their vaccination status, will be as for the parent/guardian they are accompanying. Visitors who have been in Bangladesh, Brazil, India, Nepal and/or Pakistan, countries which remain on the Restricted List, in preceding 14 days will however not be permitted entry into Seychelles.
The Indian Ocean islands’ tourism authorities have welcomed the news, with the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Tourism Sylvestre Radegonde professing his delight at the reopening of the market and “the opportunities that this important market offers, primarily for the fly-fishing niche, and beyond that to the South American market. With over 71% of our population fully vaccinated and the vaccination of adolescents 12 -18 years well under way, Seychelles is doing what is necessary to keep both its population and its visitors safe.”
Seychelles is a sought-after destination for South Africans, with the destination recording over 14,355 in 2017. The pandemic and ensuing restrictions have hamstrung travel and from generating 12,000 visitors prior to the pandemic in 2019, arrivals dropped to less than 2,000 last year and to 218 as at 5 September this year.
Whilst addicted to beaches and swimming pools, South African travellers are very adventurous, and like to venture on nature trails, hiking, snorkelling, diving, sailing, are keen to meet the local population and participate in cultural activities whilst on holiday.
The removal of restrictions is also welcome news to a significant number of Eden Island homeowners living in South Africa who will now be able to return to Seychelles with their families.
David Germain, the Tourism Seychelles Regional Director for Africa & the Americas who is based in Cape Town greeted the announcement with enthusiasm. “This is wonderful news, the arrival of the South African travellers back to our shores is long overdue. Travellers want to stay safe in a pure environment whilst on holiday and what better place than the Seychelles at this time of uncertainty. Tourism operators and their staff have all been trained to minimise and mitigate risk posed by COVID-19, developing standard operating protocols in collaboration with the health authorities, earning COVID-safe certification. In South Africa itself, mass vaccination of the South African public has already begun and is taking place nationwide in the country, and this is instilling confidence in travel,” he said.
The Tourism Seychelles Office in South Africa is ready with marketing activities programmed to take place in South Africa and the other African countries over the next few months. “This will include a series of trade and consumer activities, with a ‘Seychelles Africa Virtual Roadshow’ being the main activity, to provide products and services as well as important travel advisory updates to the African travel trade community for travel to Seychelles,” Mr Germain explained. A series of ‘Seychelles Virtual Destination training’, press trips and travel trade familiarisation visits to Seychelles are scheduled in November, as well as consumer advertising campaigns, and joint-collaboration marketing efforts with the South African travel trade.