50 hotels in Seychelles welcoming visitors from 7 special status countries
Edelweiss has since September 26 resumed direct flights between Zurich, Switzerland and Seychelles. (File photo: Salifa Karapetyan, Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Around 50 hotel establishments in Seychelles are welcoming visitors from seven special status countries since October 1 to ensure that there are fewer cancellations in bookings coming from the island nations' main tourism markets.
Visitors from the special status countries -- Italy, France, Germany, UK, Switzerland, Austria and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) -- will be allowed in Seychelles even if the COVID-19 situation in these tourism markets keeps changing.
The tourism minister, Didier Dogley, told reporters on Tuesday that visitors from special status countries will have to produce a negative PCR test 48 hours before travelling as compared to 72 hours for permitted countries. He spoke after a sixth high-level forum responsible for the implementation of the National Integrated Framework for the opening of Seychelles to commercial flights.
"They will have to stay in the category 2 hotels upon arrival and remain there for five days. During the first five days, they are not allowed to leave the hotel. They have to remain inside the establishment and will be monitored by the staff of the hotel. On the fifth day, they will do a second PCR test. If the test is negative, they can leave the hotel premises," said Dogley.
A category 2 hotel is a certified tourism establishment that has undergone further training so as to be able to welcome tourists from high-risk countries that have been given a special status. At the moment, France, the UK and the UAE are considered as high-risk countries. A hotel can be certified as both a category 1 that is welcoming guests form low-risk countries and category 2 for the high risk countries.
Sybil Cardon, the chairperson of the Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association as well as a hotel owner, said that hotels need to ensure that what is needed to be implemented for category 1 is implemented for category 2.
"This means that a client coming from a high-risk country can go to the restaurant of an establishment but they do not mingle with others. A part of the restaurant is dedicated to these tourists," she said.
Cardon added that when cleaning the rooms, chambermaids will need to wear gloves and masks and that when clothes, sheets and towels are washed, it is done in a separate washing machine.
"There are no additional costs, however, you need to follow the protocols that have been put in place, and the same applies to the staffs. Having a tourist come from a high-risk country does not necessarily mean that they are positive for COVID-19," she said.
"The criteria are set by the health authority and they are the one who assesses which countries make the lists. Should they see that the situation in any given country is too alarming, they will remove this country from the lists. We need to follow the guidance set by the Department of Health," said Dogley.
He added that "when you look at the demography of people being infected in Europe, it is mostly the young people because they are the ones who take more risks. Most of the tourists who come to Seychelles are people who have money and do not go to the gathering of young people."
The minister added that at the moment, there are three international airlines – Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines and Edelweiss - that are flying to Seychelles. British Airways is expected to start flying to the island nation in the western Indian Ocean on October 10, further opening Seychelles to Europe.