Travellers from South Africa will be able to visit the Seychelles from Tuesday 1 June onwards, after being barred from accessing the island nation since the start of 2021.
In a bid to reinvigorate the island’s embattled tourism industry, which is responsible for 65% of its GDP, the Seychelles announced the full reopening of its international airport for all scheduled commercial flights on Friday morning.
At the height of the pandemic, the Seychelles remained closed to most international visitors, with tourist arrivals over the past year down 70%.
The island group, roughly 1,600 km off the coast of Kenya, began reopening its borders to tourists at the end of March. The Seychelles’ Tourism Task Force Committee scrapped the previous mandatory quarantine requirement which had kept visitors at bay and did away with minimum stay requirements to entice tourists back in.
The Seychelles had previously planned to only open to vaccinated travellers but this clause was dropped ultimately in favour of mandatory PCR testing.
South Africans were, however, excluded from the list of permitted travellers in favour of British tourists who make up the bulk of the Seychelles’ arrivals. Travellers from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Brazil have also been banned from entering the Seychelles due to the countries’ worsening Covid-19 situation and emergence of variants.
With the Seychelles recently becoming the most vaccinated country on earth – with more than 60% of the population fully inoculated against Covid-19 – its tourism industry is looking to capitalise on the rebound of international travel.
“Within immediate effect, Seychelles is ready to welcome all visitors irrespective of their vaccination status on the condition that they have a Covid-19 negative PCR test certificate that must be taken within 72 hours prior to travel,” announced the latest travel advisory issued by the country’s ministry of foreign affairs and tourism on Friday.
“With effect as from 1 June 2021, visitors/travellers from South Africa will be permitted to travel and enter Seychelles. No quarantine is required for visitors entering Seychelles. However, they are being strongly encouraged to be fully immunised before travel.”
The ministry added that South African travellers would “be subject to additional health surveillance including testing within the first week of arrival.”
Prospective visitors will need to complete an online Health Travel Authorisation (HTA) form, which requires passport information and a detailed travel itinerary. Visitors must also have valid travel health insurance that covers Covid-19 testing, isolation, quarantine, and clinical care.
Air Seychelles confirmed that it would resume directs flights to Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport on 5 June.
“The flights will be operated on Wednesdays and Saturdays from OR Tambo International Airport to the Seychelles and will also include an overnight service on Saturday nights to provide more flexibility to those planning a quick getaway,” noted the airline.
Although the airline notes that “travellers must be fully vaccinated at least 14 days prior to travelling”, a representative of the Seychelles Islands Travel Authorisation programme noted that vaccinations were not a mandatory requirement for South African travellers.
Travellers will need to comply with public health measures – like wearing a face mask when in public, maintaining social distancing, and avoiding large crowds – but will not be required to quarantine.
Return flights in economy class, from Johannesburg to Seychelles International Airport on the main island of Mahe, start around R8,600.