The Seychelles has announced an 18-month ban on cruise ships, effective immediately.
As part of efforts to prevent a second wave of coronavirus infections, the country will close its Port Victoria to cruise liners until the end of 2021, says Didier Dogley, Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine.
The move has been met with acceptance from tourism stakeholders, even if it is understood that it will affect the country’s already struggling tourism industry.
“The Seychelles Ports Authority appreciates the fact that the government has made a prudent decision to mitigate the impact that Covid-19 may have in the medium term. It is to be noted that the cruise industry has been a major catalyst by which the Covid-19 has spread throughout the world,” Ronny Brutus, chief executive of the authority told the Seychelles News Agency.
“It is important to recognise the fact that the risk factor of a resurgence of the Covid-19 in Seychelles far outweighs the opportunity cost of not having cruise port calls for the next two years.”
At the same time, Dogley outlined a series of measures to support the tourism industry, including salary guarantees until June, favourable loan agreements and tax holidays for those in the industry.
The island nation has announced plans to reopen its airport to commercial flights on Monday, June 1, but stressed that strict control measures and travel advisories would be put in place.
According to the Seychelles News Agency, the country’s public health commissioner, Jude Gedeon, has said that the country would gradually lift restrictions and does not expect tourism to rebound immediately.
"We are thinking that with the current situation, we will not see tourism relaunched in a fast manner in June. We are looking at maybe July or August.
"This is why the opening of commercial operations of the airport does not necessarily mean there will be a lot of movement of people. Control measures that were put in place will be reinforced," he said.