Seychelles gets ready for cruise ship season, starts Oct.12
MS Europa 2 is expected in Port Victoria on October 12. (George Hutchinson /Wikimedia) Photo Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0
(Seychelles News Agency) - The Seychelles' cruise ship season for 2022-2023 will start with the arrival of MS Europa 2 expected in Port Victoria on October 12 and the local ports authority is making the final preparations to ensure that visitors' safety remains a top priority.
The first cruise ship to call on Seychelles expects to bring around 350 to 400 visitors in its first trip.
The Principal Secretary for Tourism, Sherin Francis, told reporters on Tuesday that the opening of the cruise season is an important milestone for Seychelles' tourism industry.
"There are a lot of local operators that depend on the opening of the season for their livelihood and business," she said.
Tourism is the top contributor to Seychelles' economy and according to the finance ministry, the revenue of the sector for 2022 has increased and reached $257 million compared to last year, which was $87 million for January to June.
A total of 18 vessels, some of which will be making several trips, are expected to call on Port Victoria and other islands of the archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.
For the new cruise ship season that will run until April 17, 2023, the Seychelles Ports Authority (SPA) has opened a new passageway that will provide visitors with a safer exit and entry point when using the port.
The chief executive of the authority, Sony Payet, said that "after a long period of not getting any cruise ship calls due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we understood that we had to launch it in a proper manner, to improve on the issues that we had in the past."
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, cruise ships were a $45 billion global industry, carrying 20 million passengers a year, with a very loyal fan base. The industry was also heavily impacted by the pandemic, with many countries putting place no sail orders for cruises.
Compared to previous years, Payet said that minimal activities will take place on the premises of the port itself. These activities include the operation of small vendors, taxis, and destination management companies (DMCs).
"Activities on the port itself will be discontinued as much as possible and sent outside. Arrangements have been made to do so. A year ago, we created a passageway for our clients, and as such, they will no longer exit through the main gate where all the heavy machinery and trucks are going in and out of the port. We want to ensure their safety so that when they exit the port to go visit Seychelles they do not end up in dangerous situations," said Payet.
A sheltered passageway has been created on the right-hand side of the port while facing the exit. This exit leads to the parking of the Islands Development Company (IDC), which has been newly demarcated to cater to vendors, taxis, DMCs, and other operators that will need access to the port itself.