Seychelles' battered tourism industry gets a big boost: three airlines return in a week
File Photo: Qatar Airways return to Seychelles in 2016. (Patrick Joubert)
(Seychelles News Agency) - In another strong indication that the tourism industry is picking back up in Seychelles even amid COVID-19, Qatar Airways touched down again in the island nation on Wednesday, its first flight to the archipelago since April.
That followed British Airways' return last weekend and Kenyan Airways' arrival this coming Friday, a three-airline rapid-fire return that should put smiles on the faces of a tourism industry that's been on life-support this year.
The increase in commercial flights is a welcome boost to the Seychelles tourism industry, the top contributor to the island nation’s economy. It shows that during these moments where reconnection with loved ones and family and the much-needed escape are desperately sought after, Seychelles fulfil these desires while keeping the safety of travellers and locals its highest priority.
Seychelles has currently 18 active cases of COVID-19 and in total 202 cases although the island nation has recorded no deaths to date.
Before the pandemic, a total of 14 airlines were flying to Seychelles but since the opening of the border to passenger flights, only a few have been coming regularly despite the ongoing global crisis which has brought about its fair share of uncertainties to the airline business.
Emirates was the first international airline to fly back to Seychelles on August 1, the same day that the country opened its border to international flights and tourists.
Qatar Airways suspended its operations to Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, in April after the island nation closed its borders to commercial passenger flights as a prevention measure against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The airline, which landed at 8.55 a.m. local time, is restarting flights three times a week: Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, arriving in the morning and leaving the following day early morning at 1.20 a.m. local time.
SCCA said in a communique on Wednesday that "the Seychelles International Airport also saw the return of British Airways during the weekend with over 170 passengers. Kenya Airways has indicated that it would be resuming operations on December 18."
Since November, the airport of Seychelles "has been quite vibrant with the arrival of chartered flights from Tel Aviv, Israel. These flights have been conducted by Arkia and El Al which are both Israel's international airlines. Air Seychelles has also resumed its scheduled flights to Israel since last month. In total over 5,000 Israeli tourists have been able to visit the archipelago," added SCAA.
Figures show that a total of 3,573 visitors arrived in Seychelles during week 50 of 2020 out of which 2,947 are from Asia. Only 436 arrivals were from Europe amounting to 12 percent of the figures.
The year to date 108,308 visitors disembarked in Seychelles, compared to 359,778 in 2019.
Reunion-based airline Air Austral is expected to restart its flights to Seychelles by this month with limited operations on Sundays, whereas Russian flag carrier Aeroflot is showing great interest to fly back soon pending approval from the Public Health Authority.