Victoria, Mahé, Seychelles, June 8, 2020 / TRAVELINDEX / This edition of the Saint Ange Tourism Report is issued just days after the Seychelles Electoral Commission announced 22, 23 and 24 October as the dates for the island’s 2020 Presidential Elections. The next three plus months will therefore see political manouverings as candidate intensify their campaigns.
The political parties will bring out political coloured banners and posters to depict their party and candidate. These elections are seen as the needed remedy for the current difficulties and hardship being felt by the majority of Seychellois Islanders who have been fed promises after promises to help them survive the economic challenges arising from the COVID-19 epidemic.
This is why this coming election may well be seen as a referendum on those sitting in elected offices. Have they done enough to mitigate the difficulties being experienced on the ground? Can the business community survive the economic malaise? The value of the Seychelles Rupee has fallen and this has come with a sudden rise in cost of living with prices for food stuff going through the roof. But the lowest earners are still on their five odd thousand rupees per month and they include the most vulnerable in our society: – the old age pensioners, the home carers, the contract workers employed as cleaners in Government Offices, the supply teachers among others. Can anyone sleep in peace when such a dire situation exists in our Seychelles.
Many other areas of concern will also be points to be taken into account for the referendum. The military sitting with a guillotine over their head following the threat of the demolition of the armed forces. The drug users being threatened to be treated ‘cold turkey’ with no real feeling for the families and of the situation they are finding themselves in. The high level of taxes that just continues to be levied on the hard working business community and the pay packet (inclusive of additional perks) of Seychellois versus that earned by politicians. So many points will be analysed as the dates for this referendum approaches.
The US has nominated Danny Faure as their candidate, LDS has nominated Wavel Ramkalawan, Lalyans Seselwa is confirming Patrick Pillay as its candidate and One Seychelles will be holding their party convention (within the constraints of the COVID-19 advisory of social distancing) on the 27th June to formally announce their Presidential and Vice Presidential Candidates. I personally like the chosen date of the 24th October. This is the United Nations Day and also my Birthday.
COVID-19 is here and we shall all have to learn to live with it
The COVID-19 epidemic arrived and the World Health Organisation (WHO) has made a statement that COVID-19 will be with us for a very long time and this with or without a vaccine. This only serves to tell us all that we need to learn how to exist even when faced with such an epidemic.
COVID-19 has united the world against a common enemy but it has brought the world of tourism to its knees. Many an economy in the Community of Nations are today accepting the fact that tourism remains the industry that is a catalyst to economic survival. Without tourism or cross border travel the aviation industry froze and the millions around the world who earned a living because of a buoyant tourism industry are today sitting on welfare assistance. This is as valid for the world at large as it is for Seychelles where tourism has been for many years the pillar of the island’s economy.
COVID-19 has brought to the world the realisation that tourism is an important industry and that its vulnerability should not and must not be taken for granted. As countries closed their borders, planes were grounded and many an airline company folded. Travellers went on lock-down in a bid to stop the spread of the virus as the world worked night and day to understand this virus. Today we all know that the drastic measures, however necessary under the circumstances, have brought misery for the people and great difficulty for businesses affiliated or not with tourism. How many working men and women managing their own businesses will not survive the months of financial uncertainty to come.
Many are feeling let down, as politicians talked and made promises, the people were faced with their biggest challenges and fighting to survive. Stimulus packages for the private sector to ensure they remain afloat were seen as not adequate and were often but a means to see if the people had managed to make a saving or not and if yes to discourage them from ever banking their surplus income for fear of being punished for having been a serious business personality. Seychelles businesses are suffering and even when a claim for assistance is approved, it is only a fraction of what is needed, the people as a whole are feeling the pressure of increased cost of living as the climbing exchange rate of the US Dollar saw the value of the Seychelles Rupee crumble. If tourism is not relaunched soon the value of the US Dollar will continue to bring increases in cost of living and compound the suffering for us islanders.
Seychelles Tourism must re-open
The economic situation in Seychelles is clear for all to see – it needs attention. People are suffering and the only industry that is able to bring immediate redress is tourism. The islands need leadership and this with the ability or experience to bring about the needed change to get the economy back on track.
Seychelles has announced a slow somewhat discriminatory re-opening program that will condemn more business to closures because they cannot sustain the forced closure any longer. Reopening does not mean that the islands will see a sudden invasion by tourists, it will be a phased approach anyway but imposing more quarantine measures now may just be a final nail for many. Seychelles must be looking at mitigating the challenges by being proactive and working with airlines planning to launch flights to Seychelles. Rapid tests at boarding is an option, but not trying to milk the tourists deciding to come here with overcharged rates for the tests. We need the tourists and they do not need us. Seychelles needs its tourism industry more than ever before and as competing tourism destinations move to reopen they will be aggressive and will fight for their share of the market. We must come down from our high horses and be humble if we want to relaunch the industry our people so need and the industry our economy must have. Many an announcement made are based on what we see on the horizon such as placing China on the list of not vulnerable countries only because of possible charters being assessed today. An open national dialogue is needed NOW.
The COVID-19 pandemic remains a trying moment. Tourism destinations must remain a people’s industry where the human touch guides the day to day industry. Tourists will interact with us Seychellois even if only selected islands are opened. No Seychellois can be guinea pigs. Tourism is for everyone to work for and benefit from. The people and their livelihood must be placed at the centre of every decision taken. Should the businesses that keep the people in employment be the focus of decisions or are the authorities planning to pay everyone until WHO announces one day that the epidemic is over – it is a known fact that the Seychelles Government cannot really afford this. A referendum on the actions taken by all in elected offices will arrive very soon and the People will have their chance to pass judgement on everything done and executed in the name of the People, for the People and by the People.
A recent community styled meeting at Anse Aux Pins that saw Gafur Yakub and Andre Rassool join a Government PS to talk about diversifying the economic base with greater emphasis on agriculture. It was a great move and Rev Fr Lonnie Adrienne, the Roman Catholic Priest of Anse Aux Pins and those who helped organise this meeting need to be congratulated. This will help and needs to be supported, but tomorrow onwards it is still tourism that remains the industry to pull Seychelles out of the doldrums it finds itself in.
Club Liberte Casino reopens
After a few properties cleared by the Government for receiving tourists, Club Liberte Casino was also given the go ahead to resume business on the 1st June 2020 by the Department of Health.
Operating in Anse Soleil, Baie Lazare opposite The Four Seasons Resort, the casino offers Gaming tables, slot machines, Bar Lounge area and 5 Spices Restaurant with a renowned sushi bar.
Protective measures have been put in place to protect both customers and staff members, with the use of hand sanitizing stations located around the club. Restaurant facilitates for comfortable social distancing, Perspex barriers have been installed between slot machines for comfort and security and on our gaming tables a number of precautions have been taken to ensure comfort and safety without losing the fun.
“We have built up a good reputation as a quality entertainment venue catering for everyone. Our Sushi is classed as the best on the island along with our A la Carte menu that provides high quality fusion dishes. Our main focus is on making sure that customers are feeling protected in our venue, without disrupting the services our customers enjoy. We are all having to adapt to the ‘new normal’ like all businesses reopening during the current situation.”
“We hope to host you all on your next visit to us and that you are keeping safe, from the Team at Club Liberte Casino and 5 Spices Restaurant” said the Casino Operators.
Seychelles tourism restarts with first applications for entry of private jets and yachts
A regular source from Victoria, the capital of the Seychelles, has confirmed that more than a dozen applications have already been lodged with local aviation and health authorities for private jets to fly into Mahe, or for luxury yachts to dock at port Victoria.
The Public Health Commissioner Jude Gedeon has also confirmed this development, sinc the airport was reopened on the 01st of June but apparently cautioned that due process was required to assess each and every application and then follow the strict guidelines for arriving passengers in regard to immediate health checks and a follow up a few days later.
Visitors so allowed to enter the Seychelles are also restricted to stay at their chosen resort only and are presently not permitted to move around the island or between islands.
The Seychelles have designated 19 countries as low risk including notably China, where the pandemic started and which stands constantly accused of a massive cover up, but also Australia, Botswana, Israel, Mauritius, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland and Japan, among others.
Visitors to the Seychelles should also note that with immediate effect a charge of US Dollars 50 has come into effect to cover for the expenses of health checks though it is not clear for how long this fee will apply, especially when mainstream tourism begins to flow in again.
The Seychelles reopens international airport
Seychelles International Airport has reopened, the UK’s Foreign Office has confirmed.
There are currently no commercial flights offering travel to or from Seychelles, but inter-island transport has resumed.
Revised timetables and guidelines for passengers have been published for air and ferry transport options.
On 1 June, the same day the airport reopened, the Seychelles eased some of its restrictions in relation to coronavirus on the islands.
Restaurants and shops are now permitted to trade, but social distancing rules remain in place.
Indoor seated public shows; conferences and meetings; bars; casinos; sports competitions (without spectators); gyms and fitness facilities; cinemas; and marine leisure crafts are also now permitted. All organisers of these events must receive permission from the Department of Health in the Seychelles.
Beach activities involving family members from the same household are permitted. However, beach parties are not permitted.
Restrictions are enforceable by law and can change at short notice, th FCO warned, adding that visitors should consult the Department of Health in the country for further information and monitor local media for the latest developments.