When will tourists return to Seychelles? Hard to predict, official says
(File photo) Flight connectivity and frequency are two factors that will have an impact on the number of tourists visiting Seychelles. (Patrick Joubert)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Predicting developing trends for international holiday bookings in Seychelles is quite difficult at the moment, a top official of the Seychelles Tourism Board (STB) said on Monday.
The chief executive of STB, Sherin Francis, told SNA that although the Board is anticipating the country's tourism industry might pick up towards the last quarter of the year, factors that might keep visitor arrivals low cannot be disregarded.
Since Seychelles closed its borders to tourists amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the local tourism industry -- the nation's top economic contributor -- has come to a dead stop.
Flight connectivity and frequency are two factors that will have an impact on the number of tourists visiting Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.
"As we have seen, Emirates has published a list of nine countries that it will fly to as of this week and Seychelles is not one of these large countries where they will be getting a high number of passengers," said Francis.
She added that tourists will prefer to travel within their country or on direct flights, rather than to long-haul destinations which can involve going through a hub.
Francis said that since COVID-19 cases remain high in some of Seychelles' main markets, the country is at a disadvantage when it comes to tourist arrivals. Last year Seychelles' leading tourism markets were Germany, France, the UK and Northern Ireland and Italy.
"We are considering of course that upon the re-opening of our international airport in June, with the new guidelines provided by the Department of Health, Seychelles will definitely not have the volume of tourists, as the COVID-19 has not impacted the economic power of the world but has had a big psychological impact on people," she added.
Despite these challenges, Francis said that there are niches of tourist, such as luxury travellers, that will remain or might pick up.
"Luxury travel will remain as Seychelles is a destination that is isolated enough and hence, people will see us as safe. Young couples will be travelling more compared to families as they have two incomes and no children," she said.
A team at STB is conducting research to define the newly developing trends on the international and local scale.
Meanwhile, STB is supporting domestic tourism as this is an opportunity for its partners to place themselves on the local market. At the moment, many tourist establishments and tourism-related businesses are offering locals interesting promotional packages.
"Through data STB is receiving from its partners, for instance, VISA, our team has been able to see that our local people have a decent purchasing power and although disposable income is now limited, our local people are still able to consider a staycation or other leisure activities domestically as an option since travels are still unsafe," said Francis.