The Seychelles Tourism Board (STB) is promoting the island destination in Israel, India, Russia, UAE, and certain Eastern European countries as restrictions continue to impede travel between Seychelles and the core traditional markets.
This comes as Seychelles reopens its borders to visitors from any country except directly from South Africa on Thursday to relaunch its tourism industry, its top economic contributor.
The chief executive of STB, Sherin Francis, spoke during the Board’s virtual strategic marketing meeting for 2021 that started on Wednesday. She outlined that “we realised that there must be some demand in these markets.”
“It was important for the short term that we identify a list of what we call the ‘go-to markets’ where we know that investing in them we bring a faster return. Provided that we have good air connectivity and that travel restriction eases in those markets, there are travel corridors established, visitors do not require quarantine upon arrival in Seychelles or going back to these countries,” said Francis.
She outlined that Seychelles still has huge demand from the traditional markets – UK, France, Switzerland, Austria and Germany but “all the six conditions need to be achieved for these markets to go on our ‘go-to list.”
“Right now, there are still restrictions in these markets. If anything eases eventually, the demand will probably convert into bookings and actual travels,” she said.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, tourist figures have gone down by 90 percent, with a corresponding decline in earnings and revenue. The tourism minister, Sylvestre Radegonde, said that “to do nothing would be to commit economic suicide.”
“That is why the government took the decision to introduce a new policy, facilitating the arrival of visitors to Seychelles, taking effect on March 25. It is a risk that we must take but one which is calculated, courageous, and above all necessary. The decision was not taken in isolation but in consultation with all stakeholders in the industry,” said Radegonde.
Luxury and high value leisure, wedding and honeymoon, family and MICE – Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions – are the main segments being targeted. Nature, security, culture and heritage will be the main marketing tools used to attract more tourists.
“We are coming with ‘The Creole Rendezvous’ as our theme. We will put a lot of emphases as well on green tourist as we are one of nature’s last sanctuary in the world. Visitors have been closed up for a long time at home and many are looking for experiences. What sets us apart from other island destination is our culture, our food and people among others,” said Francis.
This is in line with the strategy of the ministry to bring tourism to the community.
“We want people in the community and districts to take part. It will no longer be tourists coming to Seychelles just for its beautiful beaches and the blue waters -there are other things that will make a tourist, upon landing in Seychelles, spend,” continued Francis.
She added that indicators from online analytic sources, such as airline and hotel bookings, show that tourism will pick up in Seychelles and that “as the trend was before you do not need three to six months period to pick up on bookings. Bookings are picking up as fast as 48 hours form an announcement.”
During the course of the meeting, expected to run until March 31, STB will be discussing how Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, should be promoted internationally to attract more tourists with its local and international partners via Zoom conferencing.