"A dream come true"- First flight from Sofia lands in Seychelles
The flight is part of a series of flights linking the Bulgarian capital with Seychelles in the coming weeks. (Salifa Karapetyan, Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Seychelles is set to pull in more tourists from Bulgaria with the arrival of the first ever chartered flight – a fully booked Bulgaria Air operation - that landed at the Pointe Laure international airport on Saturday.
Touching down at 8 am with 180 passengers directly from Sofia, the flight is part of a series of flights linking the Bulgarian capital with Seychelles in the coming weeks.
Coming together to make the chartered flight a reality were 7° South - one of Seychelles' leading travel agencies – four Bulgarian partners – Luxutour, Planet Travel Center, Exotic Holiday and Marbro Tours – and Maxim Behar, the honorary consul general of Seychelles in Bulgaria.
"A dream I have been working on for 18 years has finally come true. Travelling to the most beautiful destination in the world. Enjoy your holiday, the beaches, the wonderful people there. Take pictures, experience, share, and I know you will return as true friends to Seychelles," said Behar to the passengers before their departure in Sofia, according to a press statement.
Behar, who is also the CEO and chairman of M3 Communications Group, Inc, an award-winning PR firm, worked closely with 7° South to find the key partners for the charter flight.
|Touching down at 8 am, the flight carried 175 passengers directly from Sofia. (Tourism Seychelles) Photo License: CC-BY|
"I will never forget that day last May when Maxim called me and said 'It's time for a direct flight, let's get started!' And here it is now! This is a historic event for both countries," added Anna Butler Payette, CEO of 7° South.
In comparison to other western European countries, Seychelles has not attracted a large volume of tourists from Bulgaria in the past. Before the global COVID-19 pandemic, the island nation welcomed between 1,000 to 1,500 visitors annually. Last year, that number went down to around 750 passengers.
The Tourism Seychelles director general for destination marketing, Bernadette Willemin, outlined that the market is one with great potential and it is not the volume alone that is important.
"Every passenger who lands in Seychelles is important, as 700 passengers that we are getting from one country is 700 that we might have lost from another. Putting all these numbers together helps us to attain our primary objective which is to ensure a significant flow of business for Seychelles throughout the year," said Willemin.
Furthermore, Bulgaria's neighbours in the Balkan region will also be able to benefit from the new flight connection. Last year, Balkan countries combined – Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Albania, Bulgaria and Slovenia – accounted for a total of 3,211 visitors, while in 2019, pre-COVID, there were 6,036 visitors from the region.
Tourism is Seychelles' leading economic pillar. In 2022, the island nation is expecting the arrival of over 200,000 visitors to its shores.