FROM AN ANTICIPATED 400.000+ VISITORS TO JUST OVER 100.000 THIS YEAR – THE FALLOUT OF THE PANDEMIC
(Posted 13th December 2020)
At the end of last year, looking back at another record breaking season, did the Seychelles project arrivals for 2020 to go beyond the 400.000 mark.
Little did tourism stakeholders across the archipelago know what was in store for them, as the COVID19 pandemic began its march across the world and in its wake decimated the tourism and aviation industry like no other event ever did in living memory.
Around the world did governments close their borders, forcing airlines to halt flights and banning their citizens from travelling abroad, leave alone let other nationalities in as fear rather than fact dominated the political scene.
Only later in the year, when testing became more widely available and the test results could be trusted, did countries gradually open up their borders again.
Seychelles, the country with among the least cases around the world, initially opened up for private charter flights before in September permitting scheduled flights back into the country.
Strict rules and regulations were introduced for visitors, who besides a test in their country of departure were also required to do an additional test on arrival, all aimed to prevent the import of more cases and more importantly, portray the Seychelles as a safe destination to visit.
The results were positive and although only reaching about a quarter of the initially projected visitor numbers in 2020, were encouraging in comparison with many other tourism destinations, where visitors continue to either stay away on their own or were prohibited from visiting by their governments.
A year ago did a debate go underway about the overall carrying capacity of the islands for visitors, and while the discussions continue on a lower key basis, is the immediate pressure now off, one of the few positive effects of the pandemic.
Tourism marketing by the Seychelles has continued and will continue unabated into 2021, prompting the Seychelles Tourism Board CEO Mrs. Sherin Francis to say:
‘The last quarter of 2019 alone, Seychelles received 104,079 visitors; therefore, the numbers presented this year may seem dull in comparison. However, looking at the bigger picture, these same figures are monumental for the local tourism industry. At current, our marketing approach is flexible and in constant evolution. We are doing so without deviating from the very crucial goal of keeping our people safe. Safe tourism is not an option for Seychelles but rather a must. This is not only for the safety of our people but also especially for the restart of our industry, which was, until we were hit by the pandemic, a flourishing one. Our commitments for safe tourism have been ably supported by the various partners on the tourism task force.‘