- In the Seychelles, diversification and vaccination are paying dividends to tourism and the economy.
- The country embarked on an ambitious vaccination program of its citizens from January 2021.
- This sent the nation into the limelight as the world’s most-vaccinated country, underpinning its strategy to relaunch its primary economic activity.
The impact of the pandemic had been immediate and catastrophic for the tourism-dependent economy of the island nation which saw visitor arrivals plummet to a low of 22 visitors in April of last year compared a bumper 37,103 in April 2019, traditionally the second highest month of the year for tourist arrivals. Foreign exchange inflows (receipts/supply of foreign exchange converted into rupees, the majority of which is tourism earnings) of an average of US$3 million a day pre-pandemic fell to US$1.25 million per day in April 2020, plunging to a low of US$0.43 million in mid-April 2020, the Central Bank of Seychelles has revealed. For the next 11 months, the period of May 2020 to March 2021, the average was US$1.72 million per day.
The ambitious vaccination program of its citizens the tourism-dependent country embarked on from January 2021, catapulting it to the world’s attention as the world’s most-vaccinated country, underpins Seychelles’ strategy to relaunch its primary economic activity and is already paying dividends.
While a far cry still from the 38,910 visitors of December 2019, the bumper 384,204 arrivals of that year and tourism earnings which in 2019 accounted for 76 percent of total inflows, figures from the Central Bank of Seychelles show that recovery, although fragile, is well under way.
Tourism earnings, reported by banks covering foreign exchange converted into domestic currency by tourism-related businesses, dropped to US$1.1 million in June 2020. It stands this year in June at US$23 million or 59 percent of the US$38.9 million recorded in the same month in 2019.
As of March 25 to July 2, 2021, the foreign exchange inflows daily average is US$2.44 million. Redefining its customer landscape as its traditional markets got hit by succeeding waves of the pandemic and barriers such as lockdown measures, quarantine requirements and restrictions to travel, the country’s tourism and transport authorities and private sector operators have been looking to other source markets, opening up to new airlines and charters, and welcoming from March 25 onwards some 500 visitors on average per day.