"Spasiba, Russia!": Record arrivals from Moscow to Seychelles in 2021
The surge in Russian visitors can be attributed to the fact that Russian airline Aeroflot started three direct flights a week linking Russia's capital of Moscow to Seychelles in May. (Tourism Seychelles)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Russia led the tourism market for 2021 with 32,000 Russian visitors arriving in Seychelles, breaking the eastern European country's 2017 record of 13,191 according to the latest figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics.
Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, recorded a total of 182,849 visitors for the year 2021. This is an increase of 59 percent from 2020, when a total of 114,858 visited the island nation.
The surge in Russian visitors can be attributed to the fact that Russian airline Aeroflot started three direct flights a week linking Russia's capital of Moscow to Seychelles in May.
Bernadette Willemin, the director general of Marketing at the Department of Tourism, told SNA on Monday that contrary to what many people think, Seychelles tapping into the eastern European market was not brought about just as a result of the pandemic.
"We have for a long time been planning to expand into that market and it was a priority area for us," she said.
Willemin said the Department of Tourism has not been able to meet its target of 189,000 visitors in 2021, but is satisfied with the number achieved.
"Last year, we set a target based on the best-case scenario. We set a target of 189,000 arrivals and to be only within 6,000 of that target, we are not too dissatisfied, because as we all know towards the end of the year, the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus was affecting a number of countries, which caused some cancellations," said Willemin.
She said that during the year, Seychelles had to close its border key markets, such as South Africa, which also affected arrival numbers.
While Russia leads the Seychelles tourism market, United Arab Emirates is in second place with 21,725, with France coming third with 18,545 travellers.
Seychelles saw an increase in earnings from tourism in 2021 with a total of $268 million in revenue, compared to $221 million in 2020.
Seychelles had its best year ever in 2019, in terms of tourism arrivals and earnings, with 384,204 people visiting and spending a little less than $590 million.
Tourism is the top contributor to the economy of the island nation of 99,000 inhabitants followed by fisheries.
Willemin also spoke about the various hotel projects underway in Seychelles at the moment, adding that most of the projects were approved some time ago.
She explained that the Department of Tourism is undertaking a carrying capacity assessment for every island to ensure they can cope with the number of tourists arriving and that there is no negative environmental impact on the islands.
There are several hotels currently undergoing renovation such as Avani Resort at Barbarons as well as Bayan Tree Resort at Intendance, while new hotels are being built at Anse a La Mouche and Ile Platte.