As the coronavirus pandemic rages on, shutting down many sectors of the global economy, nations have had to deal with its devastating effect. The effect is particularly worse for nations that rely on tourism for foreign exchange. However, many nations have received tremendous boosts with the discovery of the COVID-19 vaccine. Consequently, rather than restricting visitors, they are opening their borders to visitors with vaccination certificates. This is helping to cushion the effect of the pandemic on their economies.
This is the mood in Seychelles as the island announced it has reopened its borders to expats and tourists. According to the Tourism Minister, Sylvestre Radegonde, the directive has also waived all quarantine requirements for travelers who have received the full doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. In addition, travelers will now have to submit an authentic certificate from their health authority certifying that they have received two doses of the vaccine.
Can the COVID-19 Vaccine Unlock Travel and Tourism?
Officials of Seychelles’ Ministry of Tourism hope that the vaccine and the additional measures will help the island nations revive travel and tourism. Speaking at a press conference, Radegonde said,
“I am sure that all island nations that depend on tourism like us will be happy with the discovery of the COVID-19 vaccine. We hope other nations can follow in our footsteps so we can get back to pre-COVID times. Perhaps, this will open up the tourism industry for the locals. Primarily for the small hotels that are struggling on La Digue, Praslin, and also on Mahe. And also provide the kick that our economy desperately needs.”
Located over 1,600 kilometers south of Tanzania, Seychelles is heavily reliant on tourism for over 65% of its GDP. However, it has struggled significantly to generate revenue since the outbreak of coronavirus. International travel restrictions have crippled its tourism sector.
More Vaccinations, Fewer Restrictions
To date, unvaccinated visitors in Seychelles’ category 1 and 2 lists, and those arriving by private jet can enter the country. However, they must self-isolate for 10 days. With Seychelles’ Vaccination Campaign which aims to fully vaccinate its population, authorities hope to further relax restrictions.
Sybille Cardon, a high-ranking official of the Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association iterates that government authorities are working assiduously to ensure the return of tourists as soon as possible. Speaking with Seychelles News Agency, she said,
“For the coming months, nothing is coming in and this is a disaster. If we look at other destinations, they are doing well—they have put in place relevant protocols, opened their borders, and done all the necessary. It is really important to put in place the right protocols as tourists still want to come and spend a holiday in Seychelles.”
According to authorities, Seychelles hopes to return to its pre-COVID statistics by mid-March. While this is a lofty projection, the feasibility will depend on the ability of the country to acquire enough COVID-19 vaccines. At the moment, vaccine makers are struggling to keep up with the demand. Thus, it may take a long time for Africa to get their turn.