Europe's COVID lockdowns are bad news for Seychelles' tourism, official warns
British Airways was the second airline after Edelweiss to return to Seychelles in October after the opening of the airport for commercial passenger flight on August 1. (File photo: Joena Meme)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Lockdowns in Seychelles' main tourism markets are expected to result in major negative consequences for the country's economy, said a top government official on Friday.
The governor of the Central Bank of Seychelles (CBS), Caroline Abel, told a press conference that new restrictions being imposed in some of the island nation's main tourism markets such as France, Germany and the UK due to the COVID-19 pandemic will harm the island nation's tourism sector a second time.
"As a result of that, we might see a decline in the number of visitors in months to come. Therefore we are saying that the economy remains extremely fragile and it is important that the behaviour across the economy is changed so that we maximise the resources available to us," said Abel.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Seychelles' economy which depends largely on tourism has been hard-hit amid a global travel downturn, although the island nation has seen no deaths from the virus. Seychelles has recorded 155 COVID-19 cases, out of which four are still active and 151 have recovered.
After it closed its airport to commercial international flights in late March due to the outbreak, Seychelles reopened to commercial passenger flights on August 1.
Abel said the country needs to align individual expectations and policy orientations for 2021 in light of the impact on revenue.
On the issue of foreign exchange in Seychelles, Abel said that demand remains high and the value of the rupee continues to slowly lose value against the dollar in large part due to the economic downturn.
As of Thursday, a US dollar cost about SCR19.86, and if the exchange rate keeps increasing it will cause a rise in the price of commodities, Abel said. A year ago $1 was worth about SCR13.5, meaning the currency has dropped in value over 50 percent versus the dollar.
Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, has a reserve of $569 million, out of which $431 million can be spent. Calculations show that this reserve can sustain the country for almost 18 months.