Seychelles signs air service agreement with Kazakhstan
The agreement was signed in Montreal by Seychelles' minister Derjacques (right) and Talgat Lastayev from the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development of Kazakhstan. (Ministry of Transport)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Seychelles has signed a historic bilateral air services agreement with Kazakhstan that will allow airlines to operate direct flights between the countries, the Ministry of Transport said on Sunday.
The agreement was signed on the sidelines of the 41st International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Assembly in Montreal by Seychelles' minister for transport, Antony Derjacques and Talgat Lastayev, the chairman of the Civil Aviation Committee of the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development of Kazakhstan.
In his address, Derjacques said that Seychelles has moved at an unprecedented pace since 2012 to negotiate or expand air travel agreements with other countries.
"These agreements have driven economic growth to our archipelago, which is so dependent on air access. For the first time, Air Seychelles will be able to fly directly to both Almaty and Astana, providing an attractive new travel option for outbound leisure travellers from Kazakhstan who wish to have a distinctive new holiday in the Indian Ocean," he added.
The new agreement adds to Seychelles' portfolio of air service agreements in Central and Eastern Europe. Thus, it expands Seychelles' connection to a key regional source market that has been key to Seychelles' growth in tourism since re-opening in March 2021.
Kazakhstan is the 9th largest country in the world and the largest land-locked country. Rapid growth, fuelled by structural reforms and foreign direct investment has transformed the country into an upper-middle-income economy. Outbound traffic volumes to the Indian Ocean from Kazakhstan have surged five-fold in the past two years.
"Kazakhstan is a country of surprises and we are thrilled the citizenry of both countries can now explore each other's attractions. Kazakhstan has three UNESCO cultural world heritage sites, and two UNESCO natural world heritage sites, and is home to 120 ethnicities. Kazakhstan has already initiated a visa travel waiver for Seychellois to facilitate holiday," said Derjacques.
Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, relies heavily on tourism which is the top contributor to its economy.
Although the industry was severely affected by a downturn in travel caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the sector is performing better than forecast in 2021.
During the mid-year budget review in September, the finance minister, Naadir Hassan, said that for the first six months of 2022, the revenue of the tourism sector has increased and reached $257 million compared to the last year, which was $87 million for January to June.