Seychelles declared ready to re-welcome tourists after anti-COVID health preparations

Seychelles is ready to reopen for commercial passenger flights on Aug. 1 after all sectors demonstrated progress in preparedness plans, a top government official said on Tuesday.

All sectors presented their reports on the work done to prepare for the welcoming of visitors to the island nation in a high level committee meeting chaired by President Danny Faure on Tuesday.

The tourism minister, Didier Dogley, who also chairs a task force set up a month ago, told reporters that there has been a lot of progress, especially concerning different measures put in place by the health department.

"However we need to keep on staying abreast with the situation so that when we welcome visitors we are ready to do so. And visitors on their part would feel safe knowing that we are doing our best to address health issues related to COVID-19," said Dogley

Two evaluations have been done to assess the readiness of tourism-related businesses and organisations.

Dogley said that after the evaluation, "we have agreed that Aug. 1 will be the perfect date and all organisations who participated in the review has agreed to that, as we believe that by then everything will be put in place to welcome visitors and to re-launch the economy of Seychelles." 

As part of the evaluation, an exercise to test the readiness of different agencies through the new anti-COVID-19 procedures and measures at the Seychelles International Airport on Monday. 

For the reopening of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, to commercial passenger flights on Aug. 1, a series of strict guidelines by the Public Health Authority has been set for all tourism establishment operators.

The chairperson of the Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association, Sybille Cardon, said that these certified establishments are well equipped to re-welcome back visitors.These tourism businesses must be in conformity with those guidelines to be granted permission to welcome visitors to their premises. Around 97 tourism establishments have been certified to welcome back holidaymakers.  

She added that the Association has "been working all along to welcome visitors. Our association have helped to conduct on-hand training in the tourism establishments to ensure that Standard Operating Procedures put in place are adhered to."  

Tourism is the top contributor to the Seychelles' economy and since the closure of its borders because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the sector has been badly affected.

Two airlines – Etihad Airways and Ethiopian Airlines -- have already confirmed twice-weekly flights to Seychelles when the country re-opens its borders. Swiss airline Edelweiss has expressed its intentions to fly to Seychelles as from September this year.