Seychelles Issues New Travel Guidelines in preparations for borders to open in June 2020

The Seychelles Department of Tourism issued its ‘Seychelles Safety Travel Guidelines’ preceding the re-opening of its borders scheduled on June 1, 2020.

The guidelines, based on the advice of the Public Health Authority, provides necessary recommendations for tourism related business providers to resume operations in a safe manner while also targeting potential visitors planning to visit the destination.

These series of guidelines, made available to the public through the department’s website, is the stepping-stone for the small island destination to reposition itself on the international market as a responsible holiday destination.

“The guidelines clearly details what needs to be put in place before businesses can welcome guests into their establishments and this includes sanitation and hygiene measures in order to protect locals and visitors,” said the Principal Secretary Mrs. Anne Lafortune at a press conference held by the Ministry for Tourism on Wednesday May 27, 2020.

Mrs. Lafortune further stated that the Seychelles Safety Travel Guidelines also specifies the new criteria for assessment under which establishments will be scrutinised before they are certified adequate to operate.

Seychelles Department of Tourism has announced, during the same press conference, that the destination will be reopening its shores to visitors in 2 phases and that all decisions made by the authority will be based on the strict approval of the Public Health Authority.

Phase one of the re-opening of the borders, which will be effective as of June 1, 2020, will include the lift in air travel restrictions on the destination will be subjected to maximum control.

As part of the safety measures being imposed by the destination, it will be compulsory for all visitors entering the Seychelles to take a Covid-19 test 48 hours prior to disembarking on the Pointe Larue International Airport. A health fee of fifty dollars will have to be incurred on grounds to cover further local health procedures imposed by the Public Health Authority as part of the new requirements.

Phase 1 will also limit the movement of visitors around the inner islands of Mahé, Praslin and La Digue. In order to ensure maximum control, all-inclusive resorts and islands resorts will be recommended to visitors as they provide the opportunity to have guests in a self-contained environment while enjoying their holiday in paradise and respecting the social distancing measures.

Speaking about the ‘Seychelles Safety Travel Guidelines’; the Seychelles Tourism Board Chief Executive, Mrs. Sherin Francis stated that the measures are very important for the destination to follow.

“Safety comes first and as a destination we are committed to limit the risks of any eventual infection on our shores for our visitors and our local inhabitants. We are definitely encouraging all our partners to familiarise themselves with the requirements and implement them as we get ready to be start operating under the new normal,” said Mrs. Francis.

She further stated that the new steps taken by the destination adds to the marketing value of the Seychelles and encourages tourism trade partners to use the certificate issued by the department as a Unique Selling Point for their businesses.

“The data collected in our recent researches points that the new travel trends shows people have expressed the desire to reconnect with nature and families. As a destination, we are somehow isolated and have beautiful natural sceneries, which is an excellent marketing opportunity for us, “said Mrs. Francis.

For more information about the guidelines, the public is advised to visit the Department of Tourism website on the fillowing link http://tourism.gov.sc/covid-19-guidelines/

Seychelles Tourism Board Offices easing into the ‘new normal’

Tucked away in the middle of the Indian Ocean, the exotic Seychelles Islands have not been immune to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Just like the rest of the world, the STB Team found their world shaken when WHO declared Covid-19 a global pandemic.

The team scattered all over the globe woke up to the new reality as few of its members live in major cities fighting the battle relentlessly.

“We are a small team and are often in contact with our colleagues abroad, it might seem strange but sometimes they do not even seem to be that far to us and I think the scariest feeling was knowing they are at risk,” said Elsie Sinon- STB Senior Destination Marketing Executive.

A sentiment, echoed by other team members thinking of their colleagues in the various offices around the world. The Destination marketing section, usually an agitated beehive has suddenly quietened as major projects have been put on hold.

Bustling cities turning into ghost towns speaks volumes about the pressing nature of the pandemic. The fast pace of cities such as Madrid, Rome and Mumbai have drastically come to a standstill, forcing the masses to rearrange their routines and adopt new practices necessary for survival.

Based in Italy- one of the countries most hardly hit by Covid-19-Yasmine Pocetti, STB Marketing Executive shares her emotions seeing deserted landmarks especially the St-Peter’s square during the Easter celebrations in April.

“The atmosphere for the past two months has been almost surreal with empty streets, silence and everybody locked in their houses. My only trip out, once every ten days, for weeks has been to the grocery store to buy food and essentials, a very stressing task as I was very scared to see other people or touch things, the lines and waiting were very long and had to disinfect everything once back home,” says Yasmine.

“The Covid-19 pandemic and the unprecedented situation resulting from it has been a shock for the world. I believe that the way our operations are configured is an advantage for us, the fact that we run mostly online has facilitated the shift from our offices to working from home. The new normal tests your power as a survivor,” says Sherin Francis- STB Chief Executive, commenting on how juggling between work and family life not always an easy task when you are confined into your home with kids.

Mother of two young girls, she says she knows the team members with children are being put to a great test. A statement confirmed by Priya Ghag- STB representative in India who is a mother of one and Monica Gonzalez LLinás, STB Marketing Executive in Spain who has six children at home.

“The big change is the schedule every day as I have 6 children at home, having online school classes. This means waking up early in the mornings, checking emails or pending work. We are extremely lucky living in a house with a private garden while most of the population in Madrid live in flats,” says Monica.

The same story is being heard from parents with young children and teenagers, as you hear the anecdotes of this Covid-19 confinement days.

Bringing about unprecedented change in our lives, the current global situation has not only introduced restrictions but also the opportunity to re-evaluate the way STB functions; on an organisational- use of our online systems more intensively -and personal level- teams feels now closer and stronger.

“Having been at STB almost 5 for years, I have never encountered such quiet times. It is almost as if this time made us realise how our contribution is important,” said Rolira Young, STB Destination Marketing Executive.

“Working from home has definitely forced some of us to accept technology, I have to admit that I now tend to accept technology more with the use of our team collaboration and work management or even virtual meetings,” said Marie-Julie Senior Public Relations Officer at the STB News Bureau.

Many team members have expressed the challenges they face trying to adapt to confinement whilst balancing work and home life to prevent the line between the two from blurring.

The pool of young professionals who do not have a family yet, conquered that being confined at home does alter your usual clock.

“It was a race! Our section’s expertise was in high demand during this time of Covid-19; as a result, we found ourselves extremely busy working on very tight deadlines, analysing data all day and writing report and in many instances, this meant burning the midnight oil. Nevertheless, I am grateful this experience pushed me out of my comfort zone and into facing many fears head on, leading to the generation of new skills and knowledge,” said Jean-François Figaro, Senior Officer from the STB Strategic Planning and Market Intelligence section.

On the same note, Shakambri Soni, STB representative in India, says that the team has been pushing the destination hard on their end. She also mentioned that the most challenging part of working from home in this 'lock-down' situation is the combination of office and housework.

“Due to the abundance of information being shared on all platforms and new things coming up at odd hours of the day, it's challenging to keep a sense of time that divides office and house work. Unlike in offices there is no longer a 'closing time' from work and with an air of urgency and uncertainty in our lives, no work can be left unattended or pushed ahead for the next day. Everything has become important and prioritizing is the biggest challenge now,” said Ms. Soni.

Although everyone has their different time management systems they all agree, discipline is key. Christine Vel based at the STB South African Office strongly confirms her position, “Being confined has not changed much for me, I work on my own and everything is on my laptop. I’ve made sure to keep a good routine of waking up early still and starting work the same time as usual.”

Striving to keep Seychelles visible at every single corner of the world in the new normal situation, from Brazil to Australia through the Middle East, the STB teams are ingeniously making sure that partners and clients are kept abreast with the destination and its features.

While the teams are still working in ways to be visible on media through appearances in specialised magazines and others are maximising on online tools.

“It is important for us to keep in touch with our partners; we take pride in keeping the Seychelles warmth alive amidst these difficult times. Whilst many are acquiring news skills during the lockdown, most of our offices and team members across the globe are adapting to the new era, discovering how to promote the destination from their homes during a time where travel and physical contact are sensitive matters,” says Bernadette Willemin, Regional Director for Europe.

The regular meetings and trainings with trade partners, in line with STB’s mandate to increase the destination’s visibility, have now transformed into webinars since the introduction of social distancing.  

Just like their STB counterparts in France and China, Ahmed Fathallah and his team in the Middle East stated that regular online meetings with partners are essentially aimed at fostering and strengthening their relationship with the travel trade partners.

“Offering options for our partners to keep their clients informed is crucial in these difficult times. People are holding on to the dreams of visiting beautiful destinations like Seychelles once Covid-19 is behind us,” added Ahmed.

The STB Brazilian team headed by Gisele Abrahao are also actively marketing Seychelles on online platforms.

“We are all working from home for the past 2 months and everything is actually working very well. We are focusing on bringing positivity to our market by highlighting the beauty of Seychelles.

The team has invited and went liv with 3 influencers and have 4 more planned for the next couple of days on Seychelles,” says Gisele.

The lack of movement and freedom, two essential aspects of human nature, have forced us to re-evaluate how STB functions and operates, developing creative means of communicating and marketing.

Director for Digital Marketing, Chris Matombe and his team were in high demand as although the STB offices worldwide were compelled to close their doors to the public, the various teams are still working behind the scenes. As human interaction decreased across the globe, the STB has adapted by intensifying their focus towards digital platforms to create awareness about the tropical paradise.

“Interestingly it was business as usual for us. It has been an opportunity for our department to shed light on the power of digital marketing,” says Chris.

Additionally, through online campaigns, the team has been showcasing the alluring beauty of the islands; from the lush, tropical rainforests and exotic wildlife to the sandy shores and turquoise waters. These illustrations create a window of escapism during a period of crisis where confinement has made it impossible to travel, whilst sensitising potential visitors about the Seychelles and its unique features.

The absence of tourists is a ‘foreign sight’ to most Seychellois as the archipelago has been welcoming tourists to their shores for many decades. As a result of these effects, the STB Head Office on the main island of Mahé in the Seychelles, has made several changes in their operations; having to cancel future events and focus on a strategy for the future.

“We will not forget this experience anytime soon for sure as it has proved that our creativity has no limit wherever we are! We have definitely enjoyed the flexibility. This time has been used wisely to rekindle the flames with our creativity,” said Eileen Hoareau, Graphics designer from the Print and Production section.

Altering the way we function and communicate, the Covid-19 pandemic has also reminded us of the importance of living the life we fantasize about and making the most of the moment. Standing alongside the rest of humanity during this critical time, the STB Team continuously reminds us that the world will be back on its feet again and when it does, paradise will be waiting to welcome all who have been dreaming of it.

Seychelles Tourism Players meet to discuss industry recovery strategies

The meeting, which precedes the reopening of the Seychelles International Airport, scheduled for June 1, 2020 is part of a series of consultations meetings with the industry and other important entities to ensure the paradise-like destination is ready to start receiving visitors.

The Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine, Didier Dogley met with some important actors including government officials and private sector representatives to discuss about tourism recovery at the Ministry of Tourism at Botanical House, Mont Fleuri on Monday May 25, 2020.

Minister Dogley presided over the meeting alongside the Public Health Commissioner, Dr. Jude Gedeon and the CEO of the Seychelles Health Care Agency, Dr. Danny Lounge centered on the gradual easing of movement travel restrictions in Seychelles and the resuming of tourism activities.

Important points discussed revolved around the measures and procedures to be put in place for visitors before travel and at the Seychelles International airport.

Minister Dogley was accompanied by his top management at the ministry including; Principal Secretary for Tourism Mrs. Anne Lafortune, Principal Secretary for Civil Aviation Ports and Marine, Mr. Alan Renaud, Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority CEO Mr. Garry Albert, Air Seychelles CEO Mr. Remco Althuis and Seychelles Tourism Board Chief Executive, Mrs. Sherin Francis.

The meeting also saw the participation the Chairperson and Executive Board Members  of the Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association (SHTA); representatives of the Seychelles Chamber of commerce (SCCI) , representatives of the La Digue Business Association, representatives of the Employers Association.

Dr. Gedeon and his counterpart from the Seychelles Health Care Agency present in the meeting provided ample explanations regarding the various groundwork that has been done to establish the numerous protocols to be followed by travellers entering the country’s shores as of June 2020.

Both health professionals also reassured the meeting about the various facilities and procedures in place in case there is a new imported case in the country.

The Department of Tourism introduced its Seychelles Safety Travel Guidelines established as new operations parameter for all tourism activities to be required under the new normal.

These guidelines, provided by the department is key for tourism industry players to conform to for the gradual re-opening of their commercial activities within the industry.

The Seychelles Safety Travel Guidelines also stipulates that establishments will have to be inspected and certified by the Department of Tourism prior to receiving any visitors. It further determines the new responsibility taken by the Seychelles tourism stakeholders to the safety of its clients.

Concluding the meeting, Minister Dogley thanked the health officials and the industry partners for their efforts to ensure that Seychelles is ready to start welcoming visitors.

The various measures established by the Public Health Authority, The Seychelles Safety Travel Guidelines and any other important information regarding travel to Seychelles will be shared to the public and other partners gradually.

 

Paradise Seychelles is Covid-19 Free.

After 9 weeks of battling tirelessly the deadly Covid-19 worldwide pandemic, Seychelles-the small island holiday destination in the Indian Ocean with a population of less than a hundred thousand inhabitants- is now Covid-19 Free.

The country, which reported a number of 11 cases in total, has announced the last infected patient tested negative for a continuous number of days and is now considered to be healed from the Covid-19 virus.

The COVID-19 pandemic was confirmed to have reached Seychelles in March 2020 as the announcement of the first two cases of COVID-19 was made on March 14, 2020.

The number of cases on the island increased slowly during the next three weeks and reached its peak on April 6, 2020 when the 11th case was confirmed including the only two local transmitted cases following which there has been no other positive cases reported on the islands.

Behind the successful handling of the delicate situation, resulting from this pandemic is the local authority known as the Public Health Authority under the supervision of its Seychelles' Public Health Commissioner, Dr. Jude Gedeon.

The public health team reacted promptly and effectively to establish emergency protocols with the directions of the WHO, to respond to the covid-19 crisis to treat the active cases and curb the spreading of the Covid-19 virus within its population. Provision for quarantine facilities and an immediate rapid response team was created from the time WHO had declared Covid-19 a pandemic in mid-January.

Following the detection of the last person subjected to the infection and acting in a precautionary manner to restrain the inflation of infection numbers in the Seychelles, a travel ban order imposed by the authorities came into effect at midnight on Wednesday April 8 in Seychelles, restricting movement for citizens except essential service workers. This measure was maintained for 21 days.

On April 28, 2020, Seychelles’ President Danny Faure announced a lifting of restrictions on the movement of people on May 4, while travel restrictions will end on 1 June when the Seychelles International airport will reopen on June 1, 2020.


For the moment, Seychelles is free from the Covid-19 pandemic and the Seychellois authorities remains on high alert for any eventualities. The Public Health Authority alongside other organisations are working hard to keep citizens, expatriates and visitors safe from the pandemic.

As announced by the President on April 28, 2020, visitors and returning residents arriving in Seychelles will be subjected to strict measures imposed by the Public Health Authority, including a 14-day compulsory quarantine.

Speaking about the destination being free from Covid-19, the Minister for Tourism Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine, Minister Didier Dogley stated that the exceptional work done by the health authorities has been tremendous and it has enabled the Tourism stakeholders to get back to the drawing board to plan for the arrival of our first visitors.

“As the situation around the world remains precarious, it is a blessing for our small nation to have been able to curb the spread of the Covid-19 on our shores. As a destination, this is a very big advantage for Seychelles; there is a lot of preparatory work here on the ground with our partners to make sure that Seychelles sends a strong message of being a safe destination. When the world opens up and people start travelling, safety in regards to COVID 19 is going to be a major factor for visitors planning to go on holiday,” said Minister Dogley.

He further mentioned that with the opening of the airport on June 1, 2020, Seychelles will be in a very strong position to market itself as a safe destination; something that most tourists will be yearning for after being confined to their homes for months.

Composed of 115 islands, the Seychelles Archipelago land of lush vegetation and natural pristine beauty lies scattered across their secret corner of the western Indian Ocean off the east coast of Africa, some thousand miles away.

All cases have been reported and treated on Mahé. No cases have been reported on the inner island of Praslin, La Digue, Silhouette Island and the Outer Islands.

New dates for EXPO Dubai 2020

The new date’s announcement made by the Expo 2020 Dubai team followed the decision of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) after the two-thirds of its Member States voted in favour of postponing the next World Expo by one year.

The exhibition of some 192 countries including the Seychelles at the EXPO 2020 will be delayed by one year as the world faces an unprecedented difficult situation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Expo 2020 Dubai, which will retain its brand as EXPO 2020, will now run from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022.

Seychelles announced its participation to the first World Expo to be held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region in August 2019 and was gearing up to showcase the destination's natural environment, opportunities for investment and its achievements towards sustainability and conservation during the six-month event.

Speaking on behalf of the Expo Committee in Seychelles; Mrs. Sherin Francis, Seychelles Tourism Board Chief Executive mentioned that the postponement of this much-anticipated Expo 2020 event was inevitable.

“Although unfortunate, the announcement for the postponement of EXPO 2020 like all major events planned this year was to be expected. Given our current situation, the feasibility of the event was close to impossible. Nonetheless, from our side work continues to make sure that we are ready in time for the show and this remains despite the shift in date,” said Mrs. Francis.

In a communiqué, Expo 2020 Dubai stated that the team remains committed to hosting an exceptional event that will celebrate humanity’s resilience, creativity, culture and innovation – including major technological advances in the fields of medicine and science.

The communique further explained that the delay allows all participants to safely navigate the impact of COVID-19, and allows the World Expo to focus on a collective desire for new thinking to identify solutions to some of the greatest challenges of our time.

The Seychelles pavilion which is to be situated within the sustainability petal in the thematic districts places the destination at a prime location amongst the world eco-friendly champions, providing an excellent platform for Seychelles to showcase its achievements and successes in that area.

STB & CBS collaborate to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on tourism

The Seychelles Tourism Board (STB) is conducting an important survey in collaboration with the Central Bank of Seychelles (CBS) to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the tourism industry. 

The STB’s Strategic Planning and Market Intelligence section, consisting of Mr. Adrian Nanty and Mr. Jean-Francois Figaro, are working alongside the CBS Team to ensure that relevant data is collected from local tourism establishments.

The section’s Director Mr. Nanty says this is a very important study for both STB and CBS, to better understand the potential stress that the COVID-19 situation is putting on the industry, hence it is vital that all local tourism establishments participate actively to assist the team in gathering comprehensive and accurate data.

“For CBS, the survey aims to gather valuable insight on the financial repercussions the pandemic is having and will continue to have on tourism-related businesses, primarily tourism accommodations establishments. This includes assessing the ability of local establishments to cover existing debts and the flexibility of credit-granting institutions to support their clients,” says the CBS Governor, Ms. Caroline Abel.

Tourism being the country’s main economic pillar, the halt in passenger flights as a result of measures taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19, means a decline in not only visitor arrivals but also tourism earnings. CBS’ preliminary estimate shows that the annual growth in tourism earnings is to contract by 70 per cent in Euro terms compared to 2019.

“Travel may have come to a standstill, with no incoming flights, but that does not mean that our work has stopped, as much has been invested in this industry, which has long been our bread and butter. We have a duty to keep abreast with developments within the industry at all times and STB will continuously monitor the impact of the current pandemic and offer its support while working diligently to help the industry to bounce back after the crisis," says STB’s Chief Executive Mrs. Sherin Francis. 

The survey to assess the financial impact on tourism establishments is the fourth such study conducted by STB since initial travel restrictions were put in place in February and there will be further studies to keep up to date with developments.

Seychelles Tourism Board                                                               Central Bank of Seychelles

Botanical House, P.O. Box 1262                                                     P.O. Box 701, Victoria, Mahé, Seychelles

Mont Fleuri, Mahé, Seychelles                                                        Tel: + (248) 4 282 000; Fax: + (248) 4 226 104

Tel: + (248) 4 671 300                                                                     Website: www.cbs.sc

Website: www.seychelles.travel