(Posted 15th March 2022)
After sitting on the fence with an abstention, when the UN Extraordinary General Assembly voted to condemn Russia for its war of aggression on the Ukraine, did the Seychelles in the end still lose much of the Russian visitors, when unprecedented sanctions hit Russia. in 2021 over 32.000 Russians visited the paradise islands and their absence will be felt across the hospitality industry. At the same time did Seychelles’ fourth largest source market in 2021, Ukraine, also halt flights from Kiew, adding further troubles for the Seychelles tourism industry.
Financial restrictions, i.e growing lack of foreign exchange to pay for travel abroad, Aeroflot halting all flights following an exclusion from global airline distribution and booking systems and being cut off from the use of credit cards, swiftly saw the Russian source market – number one for Seychelles in 2021 – take a steep drop.
Russian owned businesses on the islands, like the Savoy and Coral Strand resorts, are also looking at an uncertain future as their owning companies in Russia can no longer transact remittances and the sanction regime begins to show its full impact on Russia’s economy and companies.
Faced with hard choices has Seychelles now also dropped the demand for a negative PCR test before passengers embark on their journey to the islands, similar to what Mauritius has done a few days ago, another Indian Ocean island with a previously significant number of Russian and Ukrainian tourists. The new measure is effective today, 15th of March. Requirement will be that arriving passengers are fully vaccinated, i.e. have received their two doses and – if those are older than 6 months – also got their booster vaccination.
‘The measure is welcome as it makes it easier for potential visitors to come to Seychelles, cutting out the expensive and time consuming PCR tests for them. Test capacities in key markets like Germany are at its limit, serving as a deterrent for travelers who may opt for destinations where such requirements have already been lifted. Also, inflation in Europe and other key source markets will besides the worries about the war Russia is waging against Ukraine bring yet more challenges for wannabe visitors to the Seychelles as disposable incomes are heavily impacted by higher electricity, heating and fuel bills, but also a strong rise in almost all consumer items. This makes affording a vacation more difficult and we as a country have to do what we can to make visits less bureaucratic and less costly. Our government is now challenged to introduce new measures to cushion inflationary trends for fuel and other supplies and also, taking into account the losses the industry incurred during the height of the COVID19 pandemic, give generous tax breaks and undo their massive overregulation in many areas, so that businesses can survive these hard times‘ wrote a regular source from Victoria by email to ATCNews overnight.
By the end of February over 48.000 visitors had entered the Seychelles, a sharp increase compared to 2021 when just over 1.500 visitors had arrived.
For 2022 had Seychelles tourism set a target of some 258.000 visitors, a number now under review as world affairs have once again thrown the industry a curveball.