Passenger flights to resume on August 1 | 24 June 2020
Tourism reps in favour
Commercial passenger flights to Seychelles are expected to resume as from August 1, public health commissioner, Dr Jude Gedeon, revealed yesterday.
The decision was announced to the media yesterday following a meeting at State House, chaired by President Danny Faure, and attended by officials from the health department; Ministry of Finance, Trade, Investment and Economic Planning; Central Bank of Seychelles (CBS); Citizens Engagement Platform Seychelles (Ceps); Seychelles Inter-Faith Council (Sifco); Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association (SHTA) and the Seychelles Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI).
The resumption of commercial passenger flights will be undertaken as per the newly established National Framework for Integrated Management of the Reopening of Seychelles and entry of visitors will be based on certain set conditions.
President Faure stressed the importance of following the guidelines set by the Public Health Authority and to get used to the observance of social distancing at all times.
He noted that these practices need to be perfected as Seychelles and its citizens prepare for border reopening.
According to Dr Gedeon, Seychelles will only welcome visitors from low risk and medium risk countries, and these visitors will have to undertake a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test 72 hours before flying to Seychelles to ensure they are COVID-19 free.
These visitors will not be quarantined and, in the spirit of fairness, Seychellois coming back from abroad will also not be put in quarantine as long as they similarly take the PCR test.
Seychelles will also reopen its borders for foreigners on gainful occupation permits (GOP) abroad, provided criteria as set by the department of health is met.
“We are putting in place standards for tourism institutions to use. They need to come up with their own standard of procedures and guidelines which they must internalise and take ownership of. In the beginning, it would only be the approved tourism establishments that would be allowed to take in clients,” Dr Gedeon said.
“We will be determining which countries are safer to receive visitors from; visitors will be coming in from low risk countries that hardly have any case and medium risk countries, and right now we are not taking any visitors from high risk countries.”
He further noted that Seychelles’ main tourism market, the Eurozone, is mostly medium risk, aside from the United Kingdom and Sweden, which are still considered as high risk.
The reopening of Seychelles borders will be based on three main pillars: public health protection, community resilience, and safe economic response and recovery.
Chairperson of the SHTA, Sybille Cardon, noted that the tourism association is in favour of the date for the resumption of commercial passenger flights, which would also mark the second phase of the re-opening of our borders.
The first phase, on June 1, only allowed private jets and chartered flights that were bringing in visitors who had to holiday-quarantine at an island resort.
Tourism establishments and resorts on Mahé and Praslin, which were not receiving any visitors in the first phase, are expected to benefit from the second phase.
“Seychelles is a dream destination so people will do their maximum to come here. We need to reopen our borders but at the same time we need to protect our people and this is why we are in constant discussions with the department of health to get to a consensus,” Mrs Cardon said yesterday.
“Tourists who will come to Seychelles from now will not be as free as they used to be but we will do our best to ensure that their holiday experience is not like a hospital stay. We all need to be ready as a nation.”
How free and what type of activities these visitors will be allowed to engage in are presently under discussions.
On his part, the vice-chair of SHTA, Alan Mason, added that Seychelles should not expect an influx of visitors as soon as passenger flights restart.
He noted that certain hotels will not open their doors at all until October or even until next year since it would not be financially viable to cater to only a few tourists coming in.
“For each hotel establishment, reopening or not will be a business decision. Some hotels are ready to open up; they have trained their staff and put in place new protocols. But we have a lot of hotels that remain undecided or will not reopen, not because they are scared to but because there won’t be enough business to go around,” Mr Mason highlighted.
Two reviews are expected to be held on July 14 and July 21 to evaluate whether tourism establishments, booking agencies, Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority and other businesses or organisations that engage with visitors have put in place the required measures to welcome visitors back to the Seychelles.