167 passengers; both travelers and Seychellois landed in Seychelles on Saturday, August 1, onboard the first commercial passenger flight since the COVID-induced travel shutdown.
The first commercial flight; Emirates flight EK705 from Dubai landed Seychelles International Airport at 6.30 a.m. The Emirates flight, carrying on its board 167 passengers received a warm welcome with a symbolic water cannon salute upon its arrival.
Following safety protocols set up by the health authority and the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA), passengers were asked to leave the plane in batches of 30 to undergo the usual procedures required at the immigration desks.
Present at the airport to ensure the smooth running of the operations for the occasion was the Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine, Mr. Didier Dogley; the Principal Secretary for Tourism, Mrs. Anne Lafortune; CEO of the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority, Mr. Garry Albert, Seychelles Tourism Board (STB) Chief Executive Officer, Mrs. Sherin Francis.
Minister Dogley mentioned that the day crowns long weeks of intensive planning by the Ministry for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine, its affiliated agencies, other government departments and tourism stakeholders in the private sector for effective safe practices.
Etihad Airways and Ethiopian Airlines are listed as the two other airlines to have confirmed the start of their operations to Seychelles in the coming week.
“It is a great moment for us today given there has been a lot of work done in preparation for the first commercial flight landing again on our shore after months of absence. The smooth but slightly altered operations today at the airport represents what we have been advocating, that is safe tourism for Seychelles, which also means that all of us will have to be even more vigilant in our work. Our approach has been one of prudence through the selection of visitors from lower-risk countries with additional safeguards in place to ensure we rebuild better and stronger,” said Minister Dogley.
On her part the Principal Secretary for Tourism, Mrs. Anne Lafortune said,” This is the necessary first step for Seychelles towards recovery. We are happy to see that tourists have responded positively and are as enthusiastic as we are to restart tourism.”
Reiterating the destination’s commitment to safe tourism, Mrs. Sherin Francis mentioned that Seychelles has been very proactive on various international forums in advocating the concept.
“As a tourism board, we have been promoting safe tourism and have been advocating for standardized practices throughout the travel industry. With the restart of international tourism, new travel trends and terminologies are emerging such as revenge travel. Given it is summer in most of our prominent markets we hope to see people eager to experience the world again,” said the STB Chief Executive.
Tourists coming from the list of ‘permitted’ countries will be allowed to enter Seychelles for a holiday to enjoy activities such as sightseeing and tours, island hopping and excursions. Seychelles is one amongst the first destinations to open for tourism in the Indian Ocean with a promise of safe tourism within a flexible environment.