More 'jovial Italian guests' expected in Seychelles after quarantine policy change
Radegonde certain programmes are being put in place and one is service of excellence. (Gerard Larose, Seychelles Tourism Board)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Seychelles is set to reach its target of 189,000 visitors in 2021, especially now that Italians can again travel to the island nation without having to quarantine when they return home, said a top government official.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Tourism, Sylvestre Radegonde, told the National Assembly on Wednesday that Italy's policy change is "very, very good" news for the island nation.
"It has been only a few days since we welcomed the 100,000th visitor to our shores and if all goes well, we are well placed to achieve our target of 189,000 tourist arrivals for this year," said Radegonde.
Radegonde addressed the National Assembly as part of the 4th annual Seychelles Tourism Festival which started on September 27 and will end on October 3 under the theme "Shaping our Future."
The minister informed members of the National Assembly of Italy's policy change.
"The Italian Minister for health announced yesterday that Seychelles is one among only six tourism destinations outside of Europe where Italians can travel without having to go in quarantine upon their return to Italy," said Radegonde.
On her side, the Principal Secretary for Tourism, Sherin Francis, said she was excited with the news and that "we are looking forward to welcoming back our jovial Italian guests who are renowned for their charm and 'joie de vivre.'"
Radegonde said that before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Seychelles' tourism industry received 400,000 visitors in 2019 and that brought in revenue of $589.7 million.
"When COVID-19 struck us, its impact was brutal and we felt it immediately. We went from 32,000 on average per month with only 26 visitors in April last year. Revenue in February 2020 before the pandemic was $58.4 million while in February 2021 it was $1.2 million," he said.
Radgonde said that the government had to take drastic measures and that included a national vaccination campaign and reopening Seychelles' borders on March 25 to relaunch the tourism industry, the top pillar of its economy.
"Today we are reaping the rewards of these measures. We are getting not less than 32 international flights per week without counting flights made by Air Seychelles. Soon Condor and Air France will restart their services," he added.
Radegonde said a lot still remains to be done to return the tourism industry to its former glory and certain programmes are being put in place. These include a service of excellence.
"Tourism is a service-oriented industry so it is imperative that the quality of interaction between visitors, employees in the tourism sector and all Seychellois receiving foreign visitors, is not only high level but even surpasses the expectation of our visitors," he said.
Other programmes will focus on manpower and training; diversification of products and cultural tourism; a policy on cruise ships; and a carrying capacity study for the three most populated islands of Mahe, Praslin and La Digue.