Borders set to re-open for visitors on March 25 |05 March 2021
- South Africa not on the welcoming list
Seychelles will reopen its border for travellers from all over the world, except for South Africa, on Thursday March 25, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Tourism Sylvestre Radegonde has announced.
Other than a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test certificate within 72 hours prior to embarkation, the visitors will not have to go through any other precautionary procedures, including quarantine period, or any other form of tests upon their arrival.
Once in the country, the visitors will however observe all the security measures in place, including wearing masks and sanitising their hands in public places.
Minister Radegonde was giving explanations during a press conference yesterday at the Botanical House, where he said the decision to re-open our border was taken in conjunction with the Ministry of Health based on the positive outcome of the ongoing national immunisation, or vaccination campaign.
He was speaking in his capacity as the chairman of the Tourism Task Force, a committee grouping tourism stakeholders, health decision-makers and various other local agencies to oversee all issues relating to the re-opening of the destination during this period dominated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
He explained that prior to the official launch of the immunisation programme on Sunday January 10, the target was to vaccinate maximum citizens by mid-March with the aim of re-opening the border, allowing the tourism sector, which is our main source of income, to resume.
Minister Radegonde noted that once in the country, the visitors will go directly to their hotels (535 certified so far), or other accommodation arrangements made during their bookings.
For the moment, only South Africa has been placed on the no-entry list due to its high cases of the 501Y.V2 variant which was first reported mid-December last year during its second wave of the pandemic, leading to many infections and deaths.
To date, South Africa has the highest number of Covid-19 cases and deaths on the continent with 1,514,815 confirmed infections, 50,271 deaths and 1,433,320 recoveries recorded.
It is the 16th most-affected country worldwide, while some countries even imposed travel bans on arrivals from South Africa, fearing they could bring the new variant to their shores.
Minister Radegonde urged everyone to maintain the existing discipline regarding protective precautions to help ease the re-opening procedure and also to smoothen the tourism reintroduction process.
“We should all play our role during the exercise since we cannot afford to close down again, based on our economic situation,” explained the tourism minister who further noted that despite the present economic necessity, we should not neglect the health obligations.
He also urged tourism establishments and all service providers to change their mindset and provide the tourists with value for their money.
“There is a small number of people who are allowed to travel, while there are millions of destinations to pick from,” added Minister Radegonde, who asked the providers to give the visitors a very good reason to choose Seychelles from the available destination list.
“It is a necessary risk for the survival of the country,” he added.
He also reminded them that due to the present economic situation, the marketing budget is very low and they should encourage the visitors to do the marketing by ‘word of mouth’ for us through recommendations after receiving good and valuable services.
Speaking on the United Kingdom’s Red List as travel measures to visitors from 17 African nations, on which Seychelles is featured, Minister Radegonde explained we are on the list due to our link with South Africa.
He said the government is already in negotiations with the UK authority to see what can be done, since Seychelles is targeting mainly the European market.
This, he said, is the present priority in the re-opening process.
It is to note that the UK had previously banned the entry of passengers from 11 African countries including South Africa in a measure to prevent the spread of the new Covid-19 variant.
Minister Radegonde also urged all tourism establishments to encourage their staff to get vaccinated, especially the front-liners.
Also present at yesterday’s press conference were principal secretary for tourism Anne Lafortune and Sherin Francis, the chief executive of the Seychelles Tourism Board (STB) who spoke about the booking and accommodation side of the re-opening.
Mrs Lafortune explained that compared to before where tourism establishments were being divided into categories, upon the re-opening of the border, all establishments will be allowed to receive clients, as long as they have their approved standard operating procedure (SOP).
Other restrictions such as boat and yacht renting have also been removed.
On her part, Mrs Francis said based on provisional forecast, there is a positive sign regarding potential visitors, but all will however be confirmed following the official announcement of the re-opening.
She said they have noticed quite a number of potential visitors researching on Seychelles as a holiday destination.
Mrs Francis further added that they have recorded several bookings based on the news that there will be no quarantine and also on availability of flights.
She also explained that based on travel restrictions set by certain European countries, the re-opening will not be that smooth, but however noted that as the actual situation gradually improves they are hopeful that things will pick up.
Regarding new potential clientele, Mrs Francis said for such endeavour to materialise, it is crucial to partner with a respective airline, a move which she said is still being studied.
Other than Emirates which is operating five times weekly, Mrs Francis said other airlines have already given confirmation for their return once the border re-opens.