Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 9 July 2020

CORONAVIRUS

The Seychelles has reopened to tourists – but only to those travelling by private jet

The Indian Ocean destination is welcoming back the 1 per cent

No cases of coronavirus were found on La Digue, in the Seychelles. The country reported only 11 cases, all on the main island of Mahe and is now reopening to tourists.Courtesy Christian Cacciamani
No cases of coronavirus were found on La Digue, in the Seychelles. The country reported only 11 cases, all on the main island of Mahe and is now reopening to tourists.Courtesy Christian Cacciamani

As more travel restrictions ease around the world, countries are making plans to reopen their borders to tourists.

The Seychelles, where tourism is one of the country's most important sectors, now allows visitors to its remote islands, but only if they're travelling by private jet.

"The destination will only consider visitors from low-risk countries travelling through private jets and chartered passenger direct flights," the Seychelles Tourism Board said.

The H Resort, Beau Vallon Beach in the Seychelles. Once travellers check in to their hotel, they won't be allowed to travel between the country's islands. Courtesy H Hotels
The H Resort, Beau Vallon Beach in the Seychelles. Once travellers check in to their hotel, they won't be allowed to travel between the country's islands. Courtesy H Hotels

As well as having to charter a plane to get there, travellers wanting to escape to the islands need to undergo a Covid-19 test before boarding any flight. Negative results have to be sent directly to the country's department of health and visitors must show the results upon landing along with confirmation from their local health authority that the test was taken less than 48 hours before they boarded their private plane.

"Visitors failing to present the required proof will be turned back on the same aircraft," the tourism board said.

The limited reopening is based on the advice of the country's health authority and is designed to limit risk of Covid-19 transmission to people living and working on the 115 islands that make up the Indian Ocean archipelago.

Upon landing in Mahe, all visitors must complete health formalities, have their temperature scanned and have a symptom check. Some travellers may also be selected for a rapid antigen test.

Travellers must have proof of the hotel or resort in which they're planing to stay. They also won't be allowed to leave their resort to travel between islands.

Superyachts welcome

Yachts and super yachts can also enter Seychellois waters but permission must be given to disembark at any of the 115 islands that make up the Indian Ocean archipelago. Courtesy Ian Baadenhurst  
Yachts and super yachts can also enter Seychellois waters, but permission must be given to disembark at any of the 115 islands that make up the Indian Ocean archipelago. Courtesy Ian Baadenhurst

For elite travellers who prefer the ocean over the air, the Seychelles is in reach again as the waters of this corner of the western Indian Ocean have reopened to yachts and superyachts.

But entry is trickier for those sailing in than those on private jet. There are strict rules in place for seafaring travellers, and cruise ships remain banned until 2022.

All vessels must clear immigration at port Victoria and specific clearance is needed if travellers wish to disembark at any of the country's islands. Before this can happen, yachts must spend at least 14 days at sea, with passengers undergoing daily temperature checks.

Plans to reopen Seychelles International Airport to commercial flights are set for July, but visitor numbers will remain restricted for a period once this happens.

There's also set to be a $50 fee (Dh183) for tourists, which will go towards supporting local public health measures.

A coronavirus-free destination

The Seychelles has reopened its airport and is welcoming tourists, but only those in private jets or super yachts. Courtesy Constance Hotels & Resorts. 
The Seychelles has reopened its airport and is welcoming tourists, but only those in private jets or super yachts. Courtesy Constance Hotels & Resorts. 

In May, the Seychelles declared itself Covid-19 free after nine weeks of battling the virus. The number of recorded cases was 11, all of which were found on the main island of Mahe. No cases were reported on Praslin, La Digue, Silhouette Island and the Outer Islands.

The Seychelles is not the only Indian Ocean destination to reopen exclusively to elite visitors.

The Maldives has also reopened to travellers with private jets or charter flights. Regular travellers should wait a bit longer as travel restrictions are expected to ease further in July.

Updated: June 3, 2020 03:55 PM

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