Seychelles has recently embarked on a national vaccination campaign for all citizens, about 95.000 residents, located mostly on three islands: Mahe, Praslin and La Digue. The goal is to become among the first countries in the world to vaccinate all its inhabitants, in order to open up to tourism as soon as possible.
According to official data, tourism amounts to 30% of GDP (15% of the working population directly employed in the sector), but the data are certainly much higher, because the island nation is extremely dependent on tourism and one of the top destinations in the world. Also, although payment by card is possible practically everywhere, at least from the position of tourists, the state is struggling with the black market, ie the problem of not issuing invoices.
In any case, tourism is one of the main economic branches, and opening up to tourism is crucial. For this reason, the Seychelles wants to open up to tourism as soon as possible, hoping it will give the country a much-needed economic boost. That is why they have introduced new border rules for vaccinated tourists in the Seychelles.
Seychelles allow vaccinated tourists to enter the country without the need for quarantine, as the first country in the world. Passengers who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will still need to follow social distancing measures, but will now be allowed to visit the Indian Ocean archipelago without self-isolation upon arrival.
Although in Europe there are currently discussions about the so-called. covid passport, a couple of days ago the EC gave up on the idea, at least temporarily. The Commission and the Member States are working on the development of specific vaccination certificates, which will fully respect EU data protection rules and facilitate continued care. By the end of January 2021, a common approach needs to be agreed so that certificates issued in the Member States can be used immediately in health systems inside and outside the EU.
In order for visitors to be recognized as "vaccinated", visitors must be able to show that they have taken the full dose of the vaccine, ie two doses plus two weeks after the second dose, depending on the type of vaccine. Visitors should enclose a credible certificate from their national health authority as evidence of vaccination against COVID-19, together with a negative COVID-19 PCR certificate, obtained less than 72 hours prior to travel.
Unvaccinated visitors currently allowed to enter (categories 1 and 2 ) must currently show a negative PCR test obtained less than 72 hours before travel. Visitors who have not been vaccinated or do not come from category 1 or 2 countries or travel by private plane are still unable to enter the country. Interestingly, Croatia, for example, is not on the list of countries from which tourists are allowed to come.
The Seychelles have had a total of less than 1.000 COVID-19 positives so far, but there is currently a growing epidemic trend. As a result, the government has tightened entry restrictions, depending on the risk in the country you come from. If tourists want to visit the Seychelles, they must send an application form to the Public Health Administration before traveling. This applies to all passengers, even those who have received the vaccine.
By January 28, international tourists must have a negative PCR test result before departure and be prepared to isolate themselves in their accommodation 10 days upon arrival. From mid-March, according to Government forecasts, after the majority of the adult population in Seychelles is vaccinated, the country will be open to all visitors, vaccinated or not. Then visitors will only need a negative PCR test obtained less than 72 hours before the trip. Additionally, on the three main islands, the Seychelles has organized the possibility of testing for all passengers leaving the island, as well as at the airport.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned governments not to rush to ease restrictions on vaccinated travelers, and recommends pre-travel testing, at least until high vaccination coverage is achieved. As I mentioned, it will be necessary to define common global standards, which is currently mostly done by the UNWTO in cooperation with all other countries, in order to know clear protocols, including in the case of certificates for vaccinated tourists.
Although there are currently problems in the distribution of vaccines in Europe, it is certain that in a few months, especially after April, a large part of the countries in Europe will have a high vaccination coverage of citizens, and more than 70-80%. With warmer weather in the spring, when the pandemic is spreading less, and with a high vaccination rate, a more positive outlook will be created for the entire tourism sector.