Seychelles leading the way to travel recovery

Keeping tropical islands of Seychelles in the limelight Seychelles Tourism Board Chief Executive, Mrs Sherin Francis speaks to the renowned hospitality keynote speaker, Marketing and Communication Expert Ms Dolores Semeraro about the destination’s stand for safe tourism.


In her interview on Thursday, September 17, 2020, which will be available in October 2020, Mrs Sherin Francis again talks about the importance of safety in the tourism industry and its part in the restoration of travel confidence.


Mrs Francis pointed out that the crucial measures put in place by the government in collaboration with the local travel trade did not only provide confidence to visitors but it also builds the trust of locals’ in restarting the industry.


Since the destination’s international airport reopened to visitors in June 2020, Mrs Francis has participated in numerous conferences and interviews to highlight how Seychelles is leading the way to travel recovery through the implementation of measures and procedures to ensure the safety of travellers and its local population.


During her interview with Ms Semeraro, Mrs Francis emphasises exactly that whilst explaining in detail why implementing safety measures are essential to restoring confidence in travellers, which is a crucial step towards travel recovery and relaunching tourism.


Additionally, the Chief Executive mentioned the active work of the tourism board and its offices worldwide to remain in close communication with partners and potential visitors.


She highlighted the various marketing strategies the STB has been deploying and expressed the importance of keeping in touch with the destination’s potential market through digital means namely talking about the success of the online marketing campaign ‘Dream Now, Experience Seychelles Later’ undertaken by the STB in April 2020 while many countries were in physical lockdown and restriction of movement.


In her closing statement to Ms Semeraro, the STB Chief Executive mentioned that the destination is ready to welcome back visitors.
The interview is part of a series called ‘Restore Travel Confidence’, featuring industry leaders from Indian Ocean destinations such as Maldives, Mauritius and Sri Lanka, which will be published on Ms Semeraro’s website and featured in her upcoming podcast ‘truthbehindtravelpodcast’.

Seychelles launches a new technology platform to process travel authorization

Seychelles has launched a new technology to facilitate the collection and analysis of traveller information ahead of their trip to the Indian Ocean islands, to ensure the re-opening of the borders in the safest manner.


The new technology – launched in collaboration with Swiss Company Travizory - allows the Seychelles health authorities to collect identity and health information directly from the traveller via the easy-to-use web version and mobile apps. The information is fed securely into a single system, providing advance information about all travellers wishing to travel to Seychelles.


The system gives authorities the capability to run rapid and efficient vetting procedures to minimize COVID-19 risks and other security risks. In short, it removes the guesswork for airlines at check-in and boarding and most importantly, it makes the passenger journey smoother and provides more peace of mind.


This new visitor management platform replaces the current email and form-based system, which were cumbersome for travellers and airlines, as well as the local authorities.


In a few simple steps, travellers can apply from their mobile phone via Android or iOS apps or on the web https://seychelles.govtas.com in about 5 minutes. Travellers will receive a clear response on their eligibility to travel in the form of a secure barcode, also available as a wallet pass, which they can present at check-in and boarding.


The application for the Seychelles Health Travel Authorisation (HTA) is now a crucial step to travelling to Seychelles as, without the HTA, a traveller will not be able to board the plane to the destination.


Each individual is required to apply separately for an HTA. For children under the age of 18, the legal guardian, parent or accompanying adult is responsible for completing the application.


The first step would require one to fill out the application and ensure all data are entered correctly. After submitting the application, the traveller will receive automatic emails confirming reception of application and payment. A 45€ fee will be charged per application.


Another email will confirm the approval or refusal of the application. In the event of a refusal, the traveller will not be allowed to travel for the moment.


If the application has been approved, the traveller will need to download the document to his mobile phone device and save it in the HTA mobile app. This is the travel authorization that needs to be shown at the departure and arrival points.


It is important to note that the traveller needs to be in possession of a negative PCR test before submitting an application.


The HTA is valid for one journey only and must be repeated for each journey.


The Seychelles authorities have established a list of countries that are allowed entrance to Seychelles. Please visit the following link to find out if you are eligible for travel authorisation to Seychelles: http://tourism.gov.sc/covid-19-guidelines/


Also enclosed with this release is the FAQs pertaining to the Seychelles Health Travel Authorisation.

Switzerland gets a dose of sunny Seychelles.

As autumn sets in Europe, the Seychelles Tourism Board (STB) partnered with one of Switzerland’s largest Tour Operators, Manta Reisen, to showcase the pristine beauty of the islands.


The first major campaign in the Swiss market for the year started September 1, 2020, with alluring depictions of the tropical paradise displayed on the trams in Zurich, the largest city in Switzerland. With trams being one of the country's most used transports, the campaign is expected to have considerable reach and exposure.


The campaign, which is to run for a year, will keep the Seychelles Islands in the minds of visitors, sweeping them off their feet with images of the destination’s lush greenery, pearly white sands enveloped by mesmerising, turquoise waters.


Speaking of this initiative on the Swiss Market, STB Director for Switzerland Judeline Edmond mentions that this campaign is set to bring hope for the Swiss market.


“We are placing our efforts to bring the Seychelles dream to the Swiss visitors by reminding them about our beautiful destination. This contributes towards the STB’s strategy in establishing Seychelles as a safe destination and rebuilding the confidence of our visitors worldwide,” said Ms. Edmond.


Manta Reisen is not only a major Tour Operator specialising in promoting island destinations, but it also focuses on environmentally conscious travel which works hand in hand with Seychelles’ sustainability mission.


Ranking as the 6th highest market for Seychelles in 2019, the Switzerland remains one of the country’s most significant market. The destination recorded 2,727 Swiss passengers from January 1, 2020, to August 31, 2020, and since the re-opening of the Seychelles International Airport until August 31, 2020, 52 passengers from Switzerland was recorded.


Cooped up and confined to one small space, many people are developing the increasing urge to travel and explore far off places. The campaign reminds potential travellers that there is a small slice of heaven in the middle of the Indian Ocean waiting to be discovered.


The islands present visitors with the perfect opportunity to escape the harsh realities of the current global situation whilst reconnecting with their loved ones and nature.


Since the re-opening of the Seychelles International Airport, Switzerland has been on the list of approved countries to enter Seychelles, making the islands accessible to Swiss travellers. Additionally, the country has successfully established safety measures and procedures to ensure their visitors' travel experience remain undisrupted.

Seychelles Tourism Board advocating Safe Tourism at World Travel Summit 2020

The Seychelles Tourism Board Chief Executive, Mrs Sherin Francis, represented the tropical island paradise at this year’s virtual World Travel Summit on Monday, September 7, 2020, where ‘Travel in the New Normal’ was the main focus.


Headed by Travel-Awards.Org, the world's best luxury travel award program of professional recognition, the World Travel Summit united top travel leaders to lead insights on the future of the travel industry.


In addition to Mrs Francis, representatives from tourism boards across the globe and major hotel chains were also present to express their views and opinions. With the Travel Awards International Advisory Board of Directors at the helm, this global event shed light on how the hospitality industry can work its way to revival.


Outlining the steps to the recovery of the tourism industry in Seychelles, Mrs Francis talked about the integrated management for the recovery of Seychelles through the three pillars established by the country for the safe reopening of the destination. These elements encompassed health and protecting the population as a first pillar; followed by building social cohesion and community resilience and lastly the very crucial step of Economic response and recovery.


As part of the phases of the economic response and recovery of the country, she highlighted the three stages that were crucial for the restarting of tourism.


At the outset, maintaining demand was key in the recovery process. This was achieved through marketing strategies such as STB’s ‘Dream Now, Experience Seychelles Later’ campaign to keep the destination in the minds of potential holidaymakers. The campaign aimed at reinforcing contact with audiences through constant virtual communications. This proved to be crucial in engaging and maintaining relationships with overseas partners namely the media, travel trades and airlines.


The second essential step to tourism restart was the ability to reduce the impact on the suppliers. The Chief Executive explained the importance of domestic tourism in that stage followed by government support and intervention to certain extent and level. Additionally, the provision or market insight, trend and intelligence to help with future planning was identified as essential.


The last stage of the process, to enabling the economic recovery, was dominated by six main points including on the technical side the establishment of a tourism task force to drive the reopening process, establishing clear criteria and procedures for the restart of tourism, constant training and preparation of the local trade for the re-opening.


The process also involved the constant research and surveys to gather market intelligence data and insights that were used to establish travel corridors and launch appropriate and timely marketing campaigns and finally the engagement of the local population to welcome back visitors through constant communications and education platforms.


Talking about the future of the tourism industry, Mrs Francis emphasised on the vital importance of rebuilding confidence in travellers through the promotion of safe travel which she then highlighted by presenting measures and procedures and the various risks filters put into place by the local Public Health Authority.


Other presentations during this summit included ‘Opening a Hotel During Covid-19', ‘Delivering Unique Experiences during the new normal’, ‘Wellness in the new normal’, ‘Providing the path for safe & successful MICE events’ and ‘Creative concepts for hotels to drive revenue’.

The island destination welcomed back visitors as of June 1, 2020, through private and chartered flights before opening up to scheduled flights on August 1, 2020, after much preparation within the Tourism Industry in collaboration with the Public Health Authority.


With its pristine beauty, secluded location and low numbers of active cases, the Seychelles Islands remain one of the world’s most desired holiday destination, providing a sensational escape from the harsh reality of the current global climate.


The Seychelles National Bureau of Statistics recorded 2,072 visitors in August 2020.

 

Seychelles boosts visitor’s confidence through the creation of Special Status for main source markets

In an effort to provide more confidence to tourism partners in key source market countries the authorities in Seychelles has decided to provide special status to a group of seven countries.


The initiative will come into force as of October 1, 2020, will include main source market countries namely United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Austria and the United Arab Emirates.


The decision was made by the tourism task force, a committee chaired by Minister Didier Dogley, Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine mandated to oversee all issues relating to the re-opening the destination during this period dominated by the Covid-19 pandemic.


This initiative aims to provide more confidence to visitors coming from these selected countries and to reassure them that even when their country does not feature on the permitted list of countries they will still be able to travel to Seychelles.


Under this new initiative, visitors will be allowed to travel to Seychelles however; more stringent sanitary measures will apply to ensure the safety of both visitors and the local population.


The advisory, to be published by September 18, 2020, will confirm the authorisation for visitors from distinctive countries considered prime markets for the destination to travel under special conditions if their countries of departure do not feature on the permitted list of countries to enter Seychelles.


“This is in particular when there is a spike or a rapid surge in the number of Covid-19 cases in their country of residence. Under normal circumstances whenever this happens and the number of cases goes beyond a particular threshold, visitors from these countries would not have been allowed to travel to Seychelles,” said the minister.


Minister Didier Dogley further informed that the decision was made based on the assessment of how the country has been performing since June 1, 2020, when Seychelles removed the air travel restrictions for the destination.


“Our performance as a small country handling arrival of visitors since June 1, 2020, has been a success. We have been able to open our borders to foreign visitors and reactivate our tourism industry in a meaningful manner, with some degree of confidence, while meeting our primary objective of protecting our local population from Covid-19. Providing special status to our key source market countries is of vital importance to ensure continuity during a period of much instability,” said Minister Dogley.

 
Other important prerequisites for travelling to Seychelles from the selected countries will include that prior to departure from their country of origin; visitors will have to submit a negative PCR test certificate from an accredited laboratory done within 48 hours from their time of departure. Furthermore, they will be expected to have valid travel insurance with full medical coverage for the duration of their stay.


Designated hotels and other forms of accommodations with the right facilities and amenities will be permitted to accommodate these visitors for the first 5 days of their visits. Throughout that period, they will have to stay on the premises of the hotel.


On the 5th day, visitors will be subjected to another Covid-19 PCR test, provided their test is negative, the visitor will be allowed to continue to enjoy their holiday as they would normally have. If the test results are positive, the visitor in question will be required to stay in a designated stay-safe hotel until cleared by the Seychelles Public Health Authority. The test will be free of charge.


The chairperson of the task force explained that for these selected markets, the only time visitors will not be allowed to enter is when the situation in that particular country is considered to be out of control and therefore the risk is too high.


Additional measures and procedures set by the PHA, which are subjected to change, can be viewed under the advisory available on the Tourism Department and Department of Health websites, which will be kept updated.

UNESCO World Heritage Site Vallée de Mai among the top 10% of global attractions

The Vallée de Mai wins 2020 Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Award for 2020, based on 2019 Traveller reviews. This latest recognition builds on past achievements as bestowed by TripAdvisor and other travel reviewing bodies. In light of this award the Seychelles Islands Foundation (SIF) is already reflecting on World Tourism Day, celebrated on the 27th of September, and is heartened by the high reviews of visitors to the Vallée de Mai. 


In a communique, Kanika Soni, Tripadvisor’s Chief Commercial Officer stated that “Winners of the 2020 Travellers’ Choice Awards should be proud of this distinguished recognition. Although it’s been a challenging year for travel and hospitality, we want to celebrate our partners' achievements. Award winners are beloved for their exceptional service and quality. Not only are these winners well deserving, they are also a great source of inspiration for travellers as the world begins to venture out again.”


Although a catastrophic year for global tourism, with Seychelles particularly affected, such news is heartening and hopefully helps attract tourist to not only the Vallée de Mai, but Praslin and Seychelles as a whole. Added with the site’s new booking system, refusal to accept cash payments, enhanced health and safety measures and safe tourism label, SIF feels that Seychelles most visited natural attraction is better prepared to navigate these uncertain times.


In receiving the news, Vallée de Mai Site Manager, Marc Jean-Baptiste said, “This achievement reflects our team’s hard work and determination in protecting and managing this site’s outstanding universal values. It also shows the effort we are making to meet and exceed the expectations of our esteemed visitors while ensuring sustainability, as prioritised by ourselves and UNESCO. So in all it’s very rewarding to receive and share this endorsement that signifies the team spirit and clearly shows that we are on the right path”.
 
Catherina Meriton, Vallée de Mai’s Administration and Accounts Officer added “I am overjoyed by this major award that demonstrates outstanding team effort and diligence delivering an exceptional experience to our visitors. Chapeau to all of our team we have truly made Seychelles proud!”
 
SIF’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr Frauke Fleischer-Dogley stated “I am extremely proud of the Vallée de Mai team that is at the centre of winning such a prestigious award and to my knowledge this is a Seychelles first. At the same time we would like to share this award with our tourism partners in particular and I am convinced that the effects of the award will translate in more tourism opportunities for the Praslin community at large. This award is also testimony that in difficult times, as we are experiencing now, protected areas and their management have a crucial role to play in how to overcome crisis.  This is also an opportunity to express our sincere appreciation to all involved and the guidance received that resulted for the valley to be certified a safe tourism operation specifically the Public Health Authority and the Department of Tourism.”