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Opening Seychelles Tourism to Israeli Visitors First

Seychelles Tourism Board CEO: Stay home and travel later – we are all in this together!

Seychelles has no active cases of coronavirus, and no one died in this Indian Ocean island republic, often seen as a tourism paradise.

Seychelles at one-time had 11 cases of COVID-19. All cases recovered, and no one died. Seychelles was quick to put tourism to a pause in isolating the country.

Like anywhere in the world where tourism is a major industry, in Seychelles, it becomes a real threat to the national GNP.

Together with Greece and Cyprus, Seychelles has been part of a discussion with Israel to relaunch flights between the Jewish state and Seychelles and bring tourists to Seychelles beaches and spas. Just in December, Air Seychelles announced non-stop flights between Victoria and Tel Aviv.

The most important part of such a discussion should be to assure that emergency arrangements are in place in the event of a coronavirus outbreak among visitors or locals.

Israel under this pending agreement may allow its citizens to return to Israel from Seychelles without having to isolate themselves under in-home quarantine as otherwise required. In other words, tourism activities between the countries could be resumed within weeks, and a safe tourism bubble would be established.

Similar tourism bubbles between Israel are in the making for the Mediterranean region including Greece and Cyprus. Other such conversations and arrangements are in the making between Germany and Taiwan. A discussion on the rebuilding.travel platform included initiatives known as tourism bubbles. According to a hotel General Manager in Micronesia, Germany and Taiwan could be a good source market for Micronesia to allow visitors within such an agreement. Micronesia never had a corononavirus case yet.

Apparently the emerging arrangement between Israel and Seychelles fits a wider pattern of countries working bilaterally, or in small groupings, to restore travel among themselves – even as some coronavirus restrictions linger.

According to a news report on Israel ITV last night, such an arrangement may apply for Israeli travelers to Seychelles in general or may be restricted to specific islands in Seychelles.

Here is the worry:  Israel is not yet free of coronavirus cases. As a matter of fact, 16 new cases were registered just today with a total of 16,683 cases, 279 dead, and 2,680 active cases.

Seychelles, an island country with a little more than 100,000 people, may put its resources, safety, and its population in danger allowing tourism to float with a country that has active cases of the virus.

Conditions of such an agreement remains to be worked out, but a valid test for travelers before they leave Tel Aviv may be a way to reduce the exposure to the fragile African island country. Such tests are not always accurate, and the time between symptoms and being able to detect the virus is 2 weeks.

Economic interests are becoming louder, and Seychelles is not an exception in the world.

The Seychelles government sealed off their borders early during the global pandemic, capping local outbreaks but starving resorts, cruise ship ports, and nature reserves of customers.

“Israel is one of the countries where the number of new infections has dramatically dropped,” the Seychelles  Tourism Board CEO Sherin Francis told Reuters news agency. “The possibility of visits is being considered as we look forward to reducing restrictions without compromising public safety.”

Confirming the negotiations, Israeli Ambassador to Seychelles Oded Joseph predicted a deal could be in place “within a week or two.”


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About the author

Juergen T Steinmetz

Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1977).
He founded eTurboNews in 1999 as the first online newsletter for the global travel tourism industry.