NO CRUISE SHIPS FOR TWO YEARS SAYS SEYCHELLES’ TOURISM MINISTER
(Posted 13th May 2020)
Seychelles Tourism Minister Didier Dogley has announced a ban of cruise ships for two years, effective immediately.
Minister Dogley’s message was reported by the island’s Nation Newspaper said that this was part of measures to prevent, or minimise the impact of, a second wave of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the country, the tourism department has announced a two-year ban on all cruise ship calls at Port Victoria.
Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine Didier Dogley said the ban is effective immediately and will go until the end of 2021.
Minister Dogley explained that since the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures put in place to contain its diffusion are taking a heavy toll on the tourism sector, the government has taken several measures, including financial, to ensure that tourism-related businesses can survive and stay afloat during the COVID-19 difficulties, until the tourism industry picks up.
He noted that the measures are in line with the World Tourism Organisation (WTO) which is the United Nations’ specialised agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism.
Minister Dogley said besides salary guarantee until June, other available support include soft loans made on terms very favourable to the borrower, and tax holiday – a government incentive programme that offers a tax reduction or elimination to businesses.
He also encouraged employees who are not working to apply for their annual leave and this, he said, will help to lower the cost of operations to the businesses.
Minister Dogley also added that as from next week, the business can start negotiating on redundancies for their foreign employees.
The move to ban cruise ships, which in the past formed a substantial source of revenue for shops, taxi operators, tour operators and related services, has come as a shock to many leading tourism stakeholders on the islands where ships in the past called on Port Victoria but also moored off the shores of Praslin and La Digue. Many in fact contacted ATCNews to express their disappointment with government and their anger over the apparently unilateral decision taken by the government.
Along with the ban on cruise ship calls goes also the business of special flights to and from the Seychelles when passengers either started or ended a segment of the cruise across the Indian Ocean islands.
It could not be established if the other Vanilla Islands like Mauritius, Reunion, Mayotte and Madagascar will follow suit and also ban cruise ships from their ports.
Meanwhile has a source from Mombasa said that Kenya is unlikely to follow the Seychelles’ example as cruise ships docking in Mombasa contribute big money when the passengers disembark and go on safari by road and air to the country’s national parks.