Seychelles is taking drastic measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19) as the country has announced that it is banning all cruise ships until 2022.
The ban on cruise liners entering Port Victoria, which goes into effect immediately, will last until the end of 2021. According to the East Africa island nation’s largest newspaper, the Seychelles Nation, it was Didier Dogley – the country’s minister for tourism, civil aviation, ports and marine – who made the decision.
The Seychelles, which stretches over 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, is a popular destination for cruisers, who are drawn to the archipelago’s unsurpassed white sandy beaches and unique and incredible wildlife.
The country has a population of 96,000 and there have only been 11 confirmed cases of coronavirus since the outbreak, but it is undoubtedly a tourist hotspot that sees around 30,000 cruise passengers pass through each year since 2016, according to The Telegraph.
The ban will therefore undoubtedly have a financial impact on the nation, but according to port authority CEO Ronny Brutus, the risks of another outbreak of coronavirus far outweighs the financial gain of cruise tourism.
He told the Seychelles News Agency: “The Seychelles Ports Authority appreciates the fact that the government has made a prudent decision to mitigate the impact that Covid-19 may have in the medium term. It is to be noted that the cruise industry has been a major catalyst by which the Covid-19 has spread throughout the world,” the chief executive of the authority told SNA on Thursday.
He added: “It is important to recognise the fact that the risk factor of a resurgence of the Covid-19 in Seychelles far outweighs the opportunity cost of not having cruise port calls for the next two years.
“In the context of cruise port calls, the global outlook for the industry indicates the cruise sector will have to endure a very slow recovery trajectory which highly depends on a reliable and effective means to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It is with optimism that the Seychelles Ports Authority looks beyond the two-year restriction, towards brighter and safer cruise seasons whereby all stakeholders associated with this interesting aspect of the tourism industry can bounce back stronger and more resilient.”
While cruise ship passengers will not be able to visit the archipelago, this doesn’t mean tourism will stop as the country is preparing to reopen the Seychelles International Airport from 1 June.
According to the Seychelles Nation, the department of health is urging stricter adherence to social distancing and other advisories, to prevent a worse outbreak of coronavirus second time around if there is to be another wave.