- Özgür Töre
Seychelles, the popular holiday destination in the Indian Ocean, remains a fantasy escape for travellers across the globe during the pandemic.
Although the vicious pandemic has dwindled travel, the destination maintains its allure. And the tourist arrivals to the tropical paradise show slow yet steady recovery. The arrivals accounted 98,894 up to November 15, 2020.
Based on data provided by the National Bureau of Statistics, since re-opening to commercial flights on August 1, 2020, the Seychelles International Airport has seen the arrival of 9,272 visitors.
Since then, up to date, the local tourism industry’s traditional markets have remained steadfast with the UAE as the top visiting region with 3,065 visitors, followed by Germany with 2,328, Switzerland with 1,495, the UK with 662 and France with 298.
In week 46, the airport has seen 1,154 arrivals with the same markets remaining strong during this time hailing 628 visitors from Germany, 218 from Switzerland, 83 from the UAE, 72 from South Africa and 55 from Austria.
Additionally, since the resumption of Air Seychelles flights to South Africa, there has been an increase in the number of visitors from the region from 11 in week 45 to 72 in week 46.
Reviewing the recent tourism arrival numbers, the Seychelles Tourism Board (STB) Chief Executive, Mrs. Sherin Francis stated that the current situation leaves little room for previsions of trends as travellers are booking very close to their travel date.
“The last quarter of 2019 alone, Seychelles received 104,079 visitors; therefore, the numbers presented this year may seem dull in comparison. However, looking at the bigger picture, these same figures are monumental for the local tourism industry. At current, our marketing approach is flexible and in constant evolution. We are doing so without deviating from the very crucial goal of keeping our people safe,” said Mrs. Francis.
Mrs. Francis further stated her gratitude to the local industry, international partners and the airlines who are pushing for Seychelles to remain visible and accessible during these challenging times.
Keeping abreast on client’s sentiments regarding the safety of visitors in the destination, a small-scale pilot study was conducted by STB’s Strategic Planning and Market Intelligence Team in collaboration with Hilton Northolme, and the data collected comes as a beacon of hope for the local tourism industry.
With support from Hilton Northolme, the Market Intelligence Team was able to evaluate tourists’ travel motivation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Assessing tourists’ perception of the destination during the COVID-19 pandemic, measure tourists’ level of safety and satisfaction in Seychelles during the pandemic as well as capture issues and challenges faced by travellers when travelling to Seychelles in the ‘new normal’.
The findings revealed several key information as 100% of respondents stated that they felt safe being in Seychelles during this time, with 81% claiming to feel very safe. Furthermore, 100% of respondents claimed that they would recommend travelling to Seychelles during this time and 17% responded that they came to Seychelles to seek refuge from the pandemic.
The data collected convey growing confidence in the travel industry especially in the Seychelles where the local authorities have united to implement extensive safety measures whereby the low infection numbers have created a sense of security in the minds of travellers. The study is expected to be repeated with a bigger sampling.
As the pandemic swept across nations and fear of travel rose, Seychelles made safety central to its recovery strategy. As the main marketing body for the islands, STB has been advocating for safe travel for months now, through a myriad of campaigns and participation in virtual summits and webinars addressing the safety of travellers and tourism recovery.
“Safe tourism is not an option for Seychelles but rather a must. This is not only for the safety of our people but also especially for the restart of our industry, which was, until we were hit by the pandemic, a flourishing one. Our commitments for safe tourism have been ably supported by the various partners on the tourism task force,” said the STB Chief Executive.
During these moments where reconnection with loved ones and family and the much-needed escape are desperately sought after, the Seychelles Islands, with its pearly white beaches meeting crystal waters and spectacular landscapes, fulfils these desires whilst keeping the safety of travellers and locals its highest priority.