Destination wedding industry in Seychelles takes huge hit amid COVID
According to the Civil Status Office, over 1,000 tourists marry in a typical year. (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Amid rising COVID case numbers and new or continued travel restrictions, foreigners hoping to marry on the sandy shores of Seychelles have had to postpone, cancel or change wedding plans.
A full-time wedding decorator and planner, Jeanina Edmond, said that although the international airport reopened on August 1 to scheduled passenger flights, the number of tourists coming to Seychelles to get married during this time of the year has dropped.
"Since the beginning of the pandemic, I only organised the wedding of two foreigners. Now I am not doing any weddings but I have turned my focus rather on preparing bridal bouquets for newlyweds," said Edmond.
According to the Civil Status Office, over 1,000 tourists marry in a typical year.
Edmond, who resides in the northern district of Anse Etoile, usually gets her clients through hotels.
"In the good days, we were getting at least two to three wedding events to organise. Now the business has dropped by almost 80 percent," said Edmond who added that she is not discouraged as she is following an upskilling programme set by the government to help entrepreneurs diversify their business.
Another wedding planner, Audrey Jupiter, said that her business has been badly impacted since the pandemic crippled the tourism industry, the top pillar of the Seychelles' economy.
"Wedding planners and decorators have been struggling to keep their businesses up and running during this unprecedented time," said Jupiter.
She added that "Seychelles remains a wonderful place to say 'I do'. We need to sit down with the authorities to see how we can continuously entice newlyweds to get married here. This is a form of tourism."
Jupiter said that "weddings have historically been recession-proof. Though budgets and trends may change, weddings will always go on. While this is devastating for the hospitality and event industry, those who remain steadfast will come out stronger on the other side. I have a feeling the celebration will be appreciated more than ever."
Meanwhile, with the aim of promoting Seychelles as a wedding destination, the Seychelles Tourism Board participated in the first 3D virtual wedding fair, held last month. STB joined five other partners in 'The World of Weddings' where it presented offerings of the destination for intimate weddings, celebrations, honeymoons, and family getaways.