The Seychelles Tourism Board (STB) on Friday strongly refuted claims that the local health authority is issuing false positive COVID-19 tests as a way to force tourists to extend their time in the island nation.
STB said that "the initial reports alleging Seychelles was giving out inaccurate test results appeared in the Israeli press and social media after some of their nationals tested positive upon their exit from the holiday destination."
The STB's chief executive, Sherin Francis, said it would serve no purpose for Seychelles to interfere with the COVID tests as this would increase the nation's statistics and reflect negatively on the destination.
"After months of struggling to restart our tourism industry, Seychelles is committed to ensuring that all our guests spend a memorable time on our islands and leave happy at the end of their stay. It would be counterproductive to do otherwise," she said.
Francis added that, however, Seychelles cannot allow a guest to exit the country if tested positive, in compliance with Seychelles' and international health and sanitary measures.
"Every guest testing positive during their stay has to quarantine for 10 days before being allowed to return home. This is the norm being observed everywhere. We are asking all our guests who find themselves in such a predicament to follow the quarantine guidelines," she explained.
Francis stressed that Seychelles is still safe to visit and that such reports should not deter potential clients from visiting the island destination.
This was echoed by the Minister for Foreign and Affairs and Tourism, Sylvestre Radegonde, who also confirmed that Seychelles is dedicated to following all safety measures and protocols in place to safeguard both its visitors and the local population.
"No country in the world can claim to be COVID-free. The government and all industry partners are dedicated to ensuring that Seychelles remains safe for all guests and that they keep the best memories of their Seychelles' holiday. It is not in the interest of Seychelles, our partners, or our guests to do otherwise, knowing how our economy is heavily reliant on tourism," Radegonde said.
He added that the island nation "is investing a lot of effort and funds in making sure that the experience of the guests remains undisturbed. Nonetheless, this can only be achieved if the visitors also practice the safety and health measures in place."
Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, reopened its borders to visitors from all countries except directly from South Africa on March 25th. The country's travel advisory was amended end of last month to include Brazil and India in view of the increase in cases in the two countries.
Tourism which is the top contributor to the country's economy has been badly affected by the downturn in travel caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The island nation currently leads the world chart with the highest vaccinations administered, over 62 percent of all adults have received the two doses of the Sinopharm and Covishield vaccines.
However, the country re-introduced certain measures such as delaying the commencement of the new school term, early closure of shops, bars and casinos, limiting gatherings on beaches to groups of four after a surge in cases in the community, which has been attributed to people letting down their guard over the Easter weekend.
Meanwhile, tourists visiting Seychelles and requiring a negative PCR test upon exiting the country currently have the option of using the Ministry of Health or private testing facilities.
To assist with the PCR test, earlier this week, a new private laboratory opened its door, with the biggest testing capacity in the Indian Ocean and which can guarantee the results under 24 hrs.
Two other private clinics have also been offering COVID-related tests with results within 24hrs. Visitors are being encouraged to make use of these private services.