Tourism businesses in Seychelles will need to meet a set of criteria to help stop the spread of COVID-19 before welcoming visitors to their establishments when the island nation airport reopens for commercial flights on June 1, said a high official on Wednesday.
The principal secretary for tourism, Anne Lafortune, told a press conference that "the intention is to clearly outline what needs to be put in place in order to receive inbound tourists in establishments or businesses."
The tourism department has been working closely with health authorities to develop guidelines that will govern the operation of tourism businesses. These include accommodations, restaurants, hire craft operations, dive centres, as well as tour operators and travel agents, car hire officers, commission agencies and tour guides. Once finalised the guidelines will be communicated to businesses.
"Once businesses get the guidelines, they need to prepare their own standards of operation to ensure the guidelines are implemented," said Lafortune.
Businesses must then inform the tourism department, after which health officers from the ministry will visit the business with a checklist to ensure that all criteria have been met.
A safe tourism certificate will then be issued to show that the business can welcome tourists under this new normal. Businesses can then start operations and confirm bookings in line with recommendations of the health authorities.
The tourism industry, the top economic contributor in Seychelles, came to a dead stop when the nation closed its borders to tourists amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The reopening of the airport for commercial flights on June 1 is expected to relaunch the industry.
The Minister for Tourism, Didier Dogley, said that from June to July, Seychelles will welcome high-end visitors flying in on private jets or chartered flights. These visitors will need to meet a set of criteria before entering the country and follow strict guidelines once in Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.
The second phase is expected to start in July.
"The newest introduction will be regular commercial flights though we do not expect the same number of tourists as last year to come in at this point as well. Depending on what the health authorities say, we will see if these people will go into hotels on the three main islands - Mahe, Praslin and La Digue," said Dogley.
He added that "the movement of tourists will need to be minimised when they are in the country until we are able to introduce an app that people will need to install on their phones to facilitate contact tracing."