Tourism and COVID: Seychelles' health department certifies first island resort as safe to reopen
Cousine is a luxury resort and since 1992 has become a private conservation sanctuary. (Gerard Larose, Seychelles Tourism Board)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Seychelles' health department has so far certified one island resort as safe to welcome guests following the COVID-19 shutdown, while another is undergoing inspection to see that established guidelines are followed, a top official said on Thursday.
The announcement was made by the Principal Secretary for Tourism, Anne Lafortune, in a press conference.
Cousine Island, a private island, has been given the green light to welcome guests after Seychelles reopened its international airport on June 1 to private, chartered, repatriation and cargo flights.
Last week, the tourism department handed guidelines to tourism-related businesses, providing guidance to the tourism industry for the gradual return to business.
The documents focus on protecting the health and safety of customers and staff in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with special consideration placed on enhancing infection prevention control, communication, situation monitoring, and reporting among others.
Cousine is a small granitic island located west of Praslin, the second-most populated island. It is a luxury resort with four elegantly designed French colonial luxury villas and a presidential villa and since 1992 has become a private conservation sanctuary.
The Cousine Island director, Malcolm Fred Keeley, told SNA that once the establishment received the document from the department of health, "it was just a matter of making small changes to meet the guidelines."
"All of our staff were made aware of these requirements and have also been following the pandemic on the news. They are aware of the procedures of wearing face masks, gloves and social distancing which are already being implemented worldwide. It was a smooth process," said Keeley.
He added that this is a "wonderful achievement, and now that we are certified we will attract guests coming to Seychelles."
Lafortune said that each business will need to work on their own Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) after receiving the guidelines.
"The guidelines may not be equally applicable to all of them. If we are to look at accommodations, there are five-star accommodations with 300 rooms and small self-caterings with just one room. The guide has been written in a general manner and each establishment will need to choose from the guideline what is relevant to them so that they can develop their own procedures," she said.
Once developed, the business will need to submit its SOP to the tourism department which will consult the department of health. An appointment will subsequently be made with the establishment for inspection to ensure that all the different facilities, equipment, and procedures have been put in place.
A certificate of acceptance will then be issued which will claim that the establishment is now ready to take in tourists.
"This will mean that the business can start taking bookings and liaising with their agents, and whenever the borders of the different countries are open and there are scheduled and commercial flights, then they can also start taking in tourists, in accordance with the regulation of both the tourism and health departments," continued Lafortune.
In June, visitors who will be coming into Seychelles, a group of 115 islands, will be going mainly to island resorts or large establishment where they can be contained in one area.
Lafortune added that the establishments need to prepare now so that as restrictions are slowly removed, they can start taking in tourists once they get the go-ahead from the department of health.