Seychelles tourism making a comeback

Seychelles takes a step forward inviting guests for a safe travel experience as travel slowly takes a fresh start in many countries around the world.

After several months of absence at the Seychelles International airport of Pointe Larue, Emirates Airlines is the first commercial airline to land at the paradise holiday destination on Saturday, August 1, 2020.

Etihad Airways and Ethiopian Airlines are listed as the two other airlines to have confirmed the start of their operations to Seychelles in the coming week.

The Emirates flight, carrying on its board 167 passengers received a warm welcome with a symbolic water cannon salute upon its arrival.

Present at the airport to ensure the smooth running of the operations for the occasion was the Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine, Mr Didier Dogley; the Principal Secretary for Tourism, Mrs Anne Lafortune; CEO of the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority, Mr Garry Albert, Seychelles Tourism Board (STB) Chief Executive Officer, Mrs Sherin Francis.

Minister Dogley mentioned that the day crowns long weeks of intensive planning by the Ministry for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine, its affiliated agencies, other government departments and tourism stakeholders in the private sector for effective safe practices.

The standard procedures endorsed by the local Public Health Authority and adopted by the local tourism industry are setting the seal on the destination's preparedness to welcome visitors.

"It is a great moment for us today given there has been a lot of work done in preparation for the first commercial flight landing again on our shore after months of absence. The smooth but slightly altered operations today at the airport represents what we have been advocating, that is safe tourism for Seychelles, which also means that all of us will have to be even more vigilant in our work. Our approach has been one of prudence through the selection of visitors from lower-risk countries with additional safeguards in place to ensure we rebuild better and stronger," said Minister Dogley.

On her part the Principal Secretary for Tourism, Mrs Anne Lafortune said," This is the necessary first step for Seychelles towards recovery. We are happy to see that tourists have responded positively and are as enthusiastic as we are to restart tourism."

Reiterating the destination's commitment to safe tourism, Mrs Sherin Francis mentioned that Seychelles has been very proactive on various international forums in advocating the concept.

"As a tourism board, we have been promoting safe tourism and have been advocating for standardized practices throughout the travel industry. With the restart of international tourism, new travel trends and terminologies are emerging such as revenge travel. Given it is summer in most of our prominent markets we hope to see people eager to experience the world again," said the STB Chief Executive.

Tourists coming from the list of 'permitted' countries will be allowed to enter Seychelles for a holiday to enjoy activities such as sightseeing and tours, island hopping and excursions. Seychelles is one amongst the first destinations to open for tourism in the Indian Ocean with a promise of safe tourism within a flexible environment.

The Seychelles Islands …Your safe summer getaway

The Seychelles Islands remains one of the world's safest destinations to travel to right now, as travel slowly starts to get underway in Europe.

Seychelles is amongst several small nations least affected by the pandemic and is now ready to start welcoming guests back as from 1st August.

Three major airlines – Emirates, Etihad and Ethiopian – have scheduled flights to Seychelles starting August and more airlines will add the islands to their networks in September and October.

According to latest figures released by the island's Public Health Authority on Thursday afternoon, there are only 39 active cases in the country presently. No Covid-related deaths have been recorded to date.

The country managed to handle the virus with much grit from the onset, registering only 11 cases by end of May. Though tourism was down, the country's second economic pillar, fisheries was still in operation and a number of seafarers from Western Africa tested positive upon arrival in Seychelles for crew change last month.

All the new 'imported' cases were isolated on their fleet and there has been no community transmission to date. Six Seychellois workers who had contact with the fishing crew and tested positive have since recovered. All the current active cases (39) remain quarantined on their boats, with no contact with the mainland.

Seychelles thus currently makes one of the best and safest destinations in the world to visit this summer, with strong measures in place to curb any potential spread of the virus amongst its guests.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Seychelles Tourism Board, Mrs. Sherin Francis, has sent a strong message to the world, telling travelers that "Seychelles has fared very well with the number of cases we had and the country was quick to react with bold and necessary measures.

We are now ready to start welcoming back our visitors and we look forward to hosting them in a safe and very flexible environment".

Mrs. Francis added that the destination has implemented specific protocols and guidelines concerning travelling to the country and hygiene in places like the airports and hotels. She also urged visitors to maintain best practices during their travels and stay in Seychelles.

"After months of quarantine and as the summer gets underway in most of our prominent markets, people are desperate to experience the world again. Seychelles is relatively low risk and we will offer the same sense of adventure, though in a slightly adapted environment," she said.

Minister Didier Dogley, the Islands' Minister for tourism reassured the visitors that their safety comes first, "A lot of work has been done to ensure visitors' stay in the destination is a safe one and we want them to enjoy their holidays as they would normally do. In the unfortunate circumstances that they do get sick, the country is equipped to give them the necessary care they would require"

Tourists coming from an approved list of Low and Moderate risk countries will be allowed to enter the Seychelles. A negative Covid-19 PCR test taken 72 hours before boarding the plane is the foremost requirement for travel to the Indian Ocean islands.

Though visitors will have to minimize their interactions with the local community, they will be able to carry on with their holiday activities such as sightseeing and tours, island hopping and excursions.

Some 96 hotels on different islands have already been accredited and received the stamp to start welcoming guests, as they meet the required health and safety checks. These lodgings range from self-caterings to five-stars and island resorts. Other service providers have also been certified for operations.

 

Seychelles Tourism Board presents Mid-Year Destination Marketing Strategy

The Seychelles Tourism Board (STB) Chief Executive Mrs. Sherin Francis presented the 2020 Mid-Year Destination Marketing Strategy to the destination’s industry stakeholders on July 17, 2020. 

The virtual presentation conducted via the ZOOM online meeting platform was held from the STB Headquarters at Botanical House, Mont- Fleuri. 

The Mid-Year Destination Marketing Strategy presentation follows a series of consultative meetings between the STB market representative based around the globe and the tourism stakeholders in Seychelles. 

The presentation, which reflected the deliberations of the past two weeks’ meetings stressed on the STBmarketing strategy to reposition the destination in the face of the current world situation.  

The strategy presented for the rest of 2020 by the destination’s Tourism Board emanates at an opportune time as Seychelles prepares itself to welcome commercial flights as of August 1, 2020. 

Focusing on safe tourism as part of the main component of the strategy, Mrs. Francis reiterated on the precautionary procedures being taken by the destination through the Department of Tourism, Department of Public Health and other local stakeholders. 

“STB’s main focus as we market the destination is promoting safe tourism to build the confidence of our visitors who envisage travelling to Seychelles. Based on market research and the various travel trends we see developing we are repositioning ourselves as being versatile and flexible to cater for various travel needs.” said Mrs. Francis. 

“I would like to thank everybody who has and continues to contribute ideas toward possible strategy the country should adopt, in this given situation, the strategy being adopted is one which is very flexible and we have to ensure that we re-adapt as the global situation evolves” she further stated. 

While she presented marketing tactics to promote the destination and increase its visibility, the STB Chief Executive emphasised on the destination’s plans to increase its online presence through the extensive use of the virtual platforms as part of its various publicity activities. 

 

 “The market intelligence insights gathered by our team has clearly shown that Seychelles still remains a top of mind destination for many people around the world. The bookings although slow remains consistent. From our market intelligence analysis, we see that there are an average of 20,000 bookings on the book for the months of July to December. The figure could be bigger as the source does not capture all the bookings to Seychelles, the challenge is not only ensuring that we retain those bookings and convert it but also build on that in the coming weeks and months” said the STB Chief Executive. 

Commercial flights to be welcomed to Seychelles in August 2020

The holiday destination confirmed the authorisation for commercial flights enter Seychelles as of August 1, 2020. 

The new lift in air travel restrictions on the destination comes an indication of the successful progression of the implementation of the first phase of movement restrictions effective as of June 1, 2020. 

As the destination tops holiday’s searches in the region, the availability of flights comes at an opportune time for visitors planning to find a peaceful and picturesque vacation. 

It is with the aim of ensuring the safety of visitors travelling to Seychelles for a holiday and the local population that a new series of guidelines has been issued by the Public Health Authority in Seychelles and the Tourism Stakeholders. 

The guidelines, which has been meticulously discussed by all the different parties within the Seychelles tourism industry, encompasses various information relating to travelling to Seychelles and the requirements for same to happen under the new normal. 

The document, which also includes the list of countries, has been made available on the department of tourism website since Friday July 3, 2020 and can be accessed via the following link: 

Prominent points of the documents are highlighted below: 

The following information emphasised Testing 

  • Proof of a negative COVID-19 test prior to boarding the flight to Seychelles remains mandatory for all visitors. 

  • Passengers boarding from medium risk countries are expected to conduct a PCR test within 72 hours of travel while passengers boarding from low risk countries are required to submit to an antigen test within 72 hours of travel. 

  • Airlines companies are strongly advised not to board any passengers or crew who are symptomatic of COVID-19. 

  • Any passenger who arrives in Seychelles without this proof will be turned back on the same aircraft.

 
  • Entry screening will be done upon arrival starting with completion of the health check form, symptomatic check, temperature scanning. 

  • Visitors may be required to undergo a rapid antigen test. 

  • It is compulsory for all visitors to provide travel insurance coverage. 

Reservation and Stay 

  • Visitors planning on a holiday in Seychelles are encouraged to book their accommodation and leisure activities through licensed tourism service providers that have been certified by the Public Health Authority. 

  • Upon disembarking in Seychelles all visitors will be required to provide proof of accommodation in an approved establishment for the entire period of stay and must show booking vouchers at the Immigration desk.  

  • In order to ensure safety of their visitors local service providers are expected to intensify their vigilance and hygiene measures within their premises and while providing their services.  

  • Daily monitoring by designated Health and Safety officers in accommodation facilities for the first 14 days after arrival of a guest. 

  • Local service provides will be required to keep a trackable movement log of their guests for the first 14 days after arrival of a holiday in Seychelles.

SEYCHELLES LEVERAGES DESTINATION LIVESTREAMING THROUGH MAFENGWO DURING THE DRAGON BOAT FESTIVAL

Adding some tropical flavour to the Dragon Boat Festival in the midst of the difficult times of the Covid-19 pandemic, Seychelles was featured on the popular Chinese travel website; Mafengwo

The livestreaming covered Mr. Rex Yang a 33 years old Chinese citizen and his family who were stranded on the paradise destination of Seychellessince January. 

Mr. Rex acquired his celebrity status on the web as he recorded his extraordinary holiday experience in the Indian Ocean paradise destination during the lockdown and posted on the Chinese social media called Weibo. 

His video posts went viral and received positive coverage in China with over 160 million views, propelling the beautiful pristine destination to the Chinese social media users. 

On the occasion of the Dragon Boat Festival celebrated on June 25, 2020 the Seychelles Tourism Board (STB) together with the Embassy of the Republic of Seychelles in Beijing worked alongside Mr. Rex and Mafengwo.com to launch the first Seychelles’ live streaming project.

The live streaming took place on the third most populated island of La Digue, with tens of thousands of viewers watching and interacting with Mr. Rex in real-time.  

The viewers online had the incredible opportunity to see Anse Source D’Argent, one of the most beautiful and renowned beaches in the Seychelles. They were taken on a cultural tour to the different activities and historic sites of La Digue, such as feeding the giant tortoise, visiting the old traditional colonial houses and vanilla plantation at L’Union Estate.

Enhancing the viewer’s experience, the audience got the chance to virtually savour the Seychelles smoked marlin salad and Takamaka cocktail through a step-by-step culinary and mixologist class at Le Domaine de L'Orangeraie Resort & Spa.

Mr. Jean- Luc Lai Lam, STB representative in China, stated that the project was a great success. 

Keeping our marketing strategies close to the current virtual trend, we wanted to captivate our Chinese audiences by creating more awareness about Seychelles as a unique destination on the market. Our aim is to remain visible by generating interest from potential visitors through the amazing use of technology specially now,” said Mr. Lai Lam  

He also added that the 72 minutes livestreaming project is worth advertising value of RMB 3.36 Million (USD 474,768) for the destination, generated over 39,000 clicks and interactions and 138,000 viewers at Mafengwo

Tencent-backed Mafengwo is a travel website in China for user-generated reviews and other travel-based content.  Mafengwo has 130 million registered users. The website of Mafengwo has 3.50 million daily Unique Visitors (UVs) and Mafengwo APP has 8 million daily active users. 

Mr. Rex and his family left the beautiful Seychelles on Friday June 26, 2020. 

Seychelles promotes safe travel in an effort to restart tourism

As the world shifts into a new era where health and safety has become the highest priority, the Seychelles Islands takes steps to ensure these essential prerequisites are central to their tourism strategy.

 

Although the Seychelles International Airport has been open to commercial operations since the June 1, 2020, it has only been available to private planes and chartered flights, as part of the first phase of easing travel restrictions. The second phase will commence in August, where the airport will be opened to scheduled flights. 

 

During an interview with BBC, the Seychelles Tourism Board’s Chief Executive, Mrs. Sherin Francis outlined the Seychelles tourism industry’s strategy to regain momentum, which involves encouraging safe travel and safe stay. 

 

While talking about re-opening and building travel confidence, Mrs. Francis explained that mandatory testing before travel, safe travel in general should be promoted across all destinations as this is the only and sure way that travel confidence will pick up.

 

Additionally, other risk filters include, when travelling to and staying in Seychelles, airlines to adopt safe travel practices whilst local establishments will continue to maintain safe practices during the visitors’ entire stay including safe check-in and daily symptom and temperature checks.

 

Mrs. Francis also highlighted how the Seychelles’ exclusivity as a destination is ideal for the new trend in tourism where Seychelles could be an ideal choice for travellers who wish to stay away from crowded tourist attractions and instead focus on reconnecting.

 

“This pandemic has created the need for people to reconnect with themselves, their soul, their family and most importantly the environment; the strongest connection that we share. 

Covid-19 has indeed helped to re-shaped travel trends. Being an isolated destination, has worked in our favour whereby the world is now looking for isolation to provide for their personal safety. “

 

The archipelago of 115 islands, over half of which can be explored, presents voyagers with an array of features to explore and activities to enjoy. From the towering granite rocks of La Digue island to the diverse wildlife of Bird Island and Cousin Island, tourists need not worry about the dangers of exposure to the pandemic as they lose themselves in the treasures this tropical paradise has to offer. 

 

There has also been a surge in domestic tourism since the pandemic outbreak as the tourism industry began to discover the spending power of the local tourists. Hotels and tourism establishments have increasingly been offering residential rates which have attracted many of locals, especially during the weekend periods. Mrs. Francis expressed how important the role of the local population is in keeping the tourism industry alive and how it should remain a continuous trend as part of the destination’s recovery strategy. 

 

Mrs. Francis has also been participating in a series of webinars where the main agendas have been centred around restarting tourism and establishing protocols and measures required to ensure the safety of travellers, which is to be adopted by the various Tourism Boards of the region. 

 

During her meeting with the CEOs of the different Africa National Tourism Authorities/Boards held on June 17, 2020 and the UNWTO virtual forum with National Tourism CEOs on June 30, 2020, Mrs. Francis again emphasised on the importance of rebuilding confidence in traveller through enforcing safe travel. It was also suggested that travellers can be reassured of their safety by countries making testing kits easily available and accessible to all travellers.

 

The STB Chief Executive is set to participate in the Africa Tourism Leadership Forum & Awards (ATLF) where there will be further discussions in regard to safe travel.