Acknowledging its strong dependence on tourism, the Seychelles was the first country in Africa to launch its vaccination campaign and is racing towards achieving herd immunity. This, it believes, will allow the island destination to fully reopen to all tourists by March 15.

“Tourism is our biggest industry and it touches the lives of every person in the country, either directly or indirectly,” said regional director, Africa and the Americas for Seychelles Tourism Board, David Germain.

He told Travel News that the country was extremely cognisant of its dependency on tourism and was hard at work to enact a strategy that would achieve the desired delicate balance of rekindling its tourism industry while also protecting its small population of 95 000.

He explained that while the Seychelles had already partially opened to visitors from around the world, these travellers currently had to produce a certificate that they had had both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine (second dose to be administered at least two weeks before travel), as well as a negative PCR test.

“We are confident that we will have vaccinated enough of our population to achieve herd immunity by March 15. At this point we can fully reopen our borders with reduced precautionary entry requirements,” said David.

According to the Seychelles Advisory website, phase two of the full reopening in mid-March will only require travellers to show proof of a negative COVID-19 certificate (taken a maximum of 72 hours before departure) and will no longer require proof of vaccination to be shown.

Tourism Board strategy

While the Tourism Board has needed to implement cost-cutting measures around the world due to the devastating impact that COVID-19 has had on the industry, David said the Seychelles would continue to have a strong presence in Africa.

“International tourism offices incur foreign currency spend for our country, whose income has been significantly reduced. To cut costs we will be closing the Johannesburg Seychelles Tourism Board office in February. Christine Vel, who has been representing the Tourism Board in Johannesburg, is relocating to the Seychelles, where she will continue to look after the South African market from head office. I will remain in Cape Town, responsible for the South African and African markets,” explained David.

He added that both he and Christine would maintain contact with their trade partners and were beginning to roll out an extensive 2021 marketing campaign to maintain awareness of the Seychelles.

“This will involve lots of virtual workshops and roadshows with our trade partners, consumer and trade advertising to stay visible and an extensive digital marketing campaign. We will also continue to work closely with the South African tour operators that sell the Seychelles and to collaborate with them on joint projects,” said David.