95% of 62,238 visitors arrived here after March 25 re-opening |28 July 2021
By Laura Pillay
Ninety-five percent of the 62,238 visitors who have arrived in Seychelles this year came after the re-opening of our borders on March 25, according to statistics announced by principal secretary for tourism Sherin Francis yesterday.
It was during Mrs Francis’ first presentation in her capacity as principal secretary (PS), at the 2021 mid-year virtual marketing meeting at the Botanical House, that she provided statistics indicating a gradual increase in visitors’ arrivals which over the months of April, May, June and July exceeded forecasts drawn up in January, based on data on hand at the time.
As per the department’s forecasts, in the best case scenario 189,000 visitors in total were expected by the end of the year, and 111,000 visitors in the worst-case scenario.
“As you can see from April, May, June and July, we are already performing as per the best-case scenario. All four months we have performed above the best-case scenario,” PS Francis noted.
A total of 14,245 visitors were recorded in April, just over the 14,000 best-case scenario forecast. For the month of May 16,001 were recorded, and a further 13,413 over the month of June, both above the forecast number of 13,000 for each month. Despite not being all the way through the month of July yet, arrivals look set to exceed the forecast 14,000, with 16,737 visitors, based on actual arrivals and bookings.
For the upcoming months until December, arrivals are forecast to be above 20,000 in the best case scenario.
However, with the pandemic and uncertainty that visitors are faced with, one trend which has emerged is shorter times between booking and travel.
“Based on bookings, for August, there are 9,257 visitors already, and what we have noticed in terms of trend, is that booking comes very close to the date of travel. So, for August, even if we are close to 10,000 and our target is 21,000 according to our best-case scenario, if it was a normal year like 2019, we would have been worried to be only halfway to our target, but, this year, knowing that a lot of our bookings are last minute, there is still a chance for us to meet our target,” PS Francis explained.
Russia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Israel and Germany still dominate in terms of total visitors’ arrivals. Of the 59,218 visitors who have flocked to Seychelles’ shores since the re-opening, 13,741 arrived from Russia; just over 10,000 from UAE; 6,990 from Israel; and 2,937 from Germany.
In 2019, Germany was the top market, and is now placed fourth since the re-opening of the country on March 25.
Visitors’ arrivals and earnings on the increase
As per data from the Travizory platform, thus far this year, July 21 is the day with the most visitors in the country, with a total of 8,580 visitors.
“In terms of tourism earnings as well, the country has made good progress. The gap is closing and we are at -41 percent and every rolling month it is improving in the right direction,” PS Francis said with regards to tourism earnings.
In January 2021, tourism earnings were at US $1.9 million as compared to 2019’s US $49.8 million, before again declining to US $1.2 million in February. By April this year the gap started to close at US $24.7 million and in May earning stood at US $27.5 million.
With regards to forward bookings and developing trends, PS Francis noted that the gap between purchase date and travel date has decreased sharply due to the pandemic with the halt of international travel, meaning they have to opt for short-term solutions.
As such, booking horizons are currently 80 days in the European, Middle East and America, 70 in America and around 54 days in the Asia Pacific regions, which still represents an improvement as compared to last year’s trends, when the pandemic was at its peak around the globe.
In 2019, the average trip duration was 14 days while this year, it is slightly longer at 16 days.
“We are very close to getting back all the connectivity. At present we have eight airlines serving the destination and in 2019 we had 13, so we are still halfway there. Air France will be starting as of October 23 with two flights per week. The last airline to have started in July was actually Edelweiss, and we also anticipate the return of Condor as of October 1,” PS Francis explained.
Two airlines are presently operating daily flights, namely Emirates and Qatar Airways.
Still on the trends, PS Francis noted that international bookings have jumped ahead of the holiday season and although demands for travel remains high, travellers are faced with a lot of uncertainty, the source of which is the Covid-19 variant.
Global trends seem to indicate that travellers are confident that they can travel this year, with the advancement of vaccination campaigns. Average trip duration has also increased significantly, with 39% of consumers planning trips for longer than 14 days. Searches for medium-haul flights are also 11% higher than in 2019, according to the April 2021 Skyscanner global trends report.
In moving forward, the ministry is focusing on improving organisational effectiveness and good governance, enhancing capacity in market intelligence, insights and analytics and to enhance collaboration with stakeholders and partners, both locally and internationally, to improve delivery on their mandate.
Additionally, the ministry is seeking to grow the demand for destination Seychelles through the use of digital platforms and digital engagement. This requires efforts and actions towards defining or setting a new approach to address changing consumer behaviour and emerging technologies.