About 100 Russian tourists stranded in Seychelles due to the COVID-19 pandemic are expected to be repatriated back to Russia on a chartered flight, said an official from the Russian Embassy.
The flight schedule and route is currently being worked on, Maxim Matasov, the First Secretary at the Russian Embassy in Seychelles, said Friday.
"It is going to be a charter flight. We do not have a confirmed date yet, but we know that a number of various flight operators are being considered," Matasov said.
In an article on UrduPoint News, the head of the consular department of the Russian embassy in Seychelles, Aleksander Ryazantsev, explained that the embassy is waiting for information from Moscow to proceed.
Ryazantsev was quoted as saying that "we also maintain contacts with the Seychelles airport, which, despite the closure of the borders, confirmed to us that it would accept our charter flight."
"Our compatriots here are concerned about the spread of COVID-19 across the globe, and particularly at home, though the figures in Russia are relatively low. They are eager to get back to their families as soon as the situation permits," Matasov told SNA via email.
He added that the major challenge for some tourists is the necessity to revise their spending since they had not budgeted for this extended stay in Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.
"The Embassy constantly offers them consular assistance, helps in locating suitable accommodation options, keeps in touch with our fellow countrymen in order to respond to any other needs that might arise. We are very thankful to the Seychellois people, who have been very forthcoming in extending the much-needed support to their Russian guests," said Matasov.
There are about 200 Russians with a Gainful Occupation Permit (GOP) in Seychelles working in the tourism industry, production of a popular Russian TV reality-show, and Oceana Fisheries, among others. Most of them decided to stay in Seychelles as their businesses continue to operate.
"Thanks to the Seychelles' government's efficient measures, there are only 10 cases of COVID-19 in the country, and the overall situation is quite calm, which gives the much-needed feeling of safety. Thus, there are families who have decided to spend more time here and wait until the pandemic situation in the world improves," he said.
The last chartered flight to repatriate visitors from Seychelles to Europe was on March 31. The Air Belgium flight was operated by the European Union and the French government in coordination with the local French Embassy and British High Commission.