The newly announced measures to re-open Seychelles to tourists who have taken the COVID-19 vaccine will not help the tourism industry immediately, the chairperson of the Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association (SHTA) told SNA on Monday.
On January 14, the tourism minister, Sylvestre Radegonde, announced that the island nation has re-opened its doors to visitors from anywhere in the world as long as they have taken both doses of the COVID-19 vaccination. Those visitors would not need to go into quarantine upon arrival in the 115-island Indian Ocean archipelago.
By mid-March visitors to the islands will only need to produce a negative PCR test as the country would have vaccinated 70 percent of its local population, achieving herd immunity.
"It is definitely not something that will help us immediately, because as you know, in Europe they want to vaccinate everyone with at least the first dose of the vaccine. The second dose will not be administrated in three weeks as previously said. It will be done in about 2 to 3 months as they want to give the first dose to the majority of people. This means that the decision taken will not have a direct impact," said the chairperson of SHTA, Sybille Cardon.
During the past months, Seychelles had put restrictions on which country's tourists were eligible to travel to the island nation because of high COVID rates in many countries.
Cardon indicated that she wanted to be sure Seychelles isn't making promises to tourists it can't keep.
"Are we sure that by March Seychelles will have the herd immunity that the country wants? Hasn't this declaration been made too hastily? Will we be ready or will we find ourselves saying 'sorry we are not ready' and postpone for another month? Protocols we decide to enforce should be final, safe for the country and at the same time bring work and forex into the country," said Cardon.
The chairperson added that "at the moment there are no reservations coming in until April - bookings being made are for May, June, October and November."
"It is important to note that people are coming out of winter and it is only now that they are planning their holidays. If Seychelles is not present through travel agents, we will lose out. For the coming months, nothing is coming in and this is a disaster. If we look at other destinations, they are doing well - they have put in place relevant protocols, have opened their borders, and have done all the necessary. It is really important to put in place the right protocols as tourist still want to come and spend a holiday in Seychelles," continued Cardon.