Visitor arrivals to Seychelles in 2021 surpassed the 100,000 mark on Sunday, an important milestone showing that efforts made by the government and tourism partners are bearing fruit, a high tourism official said.

To celebrate the moment, passengers arriving in the island nation from Tel Aviv, Israel on board El Al’s flight LY055 were treated to a taste of the island’s Creole hospitality. The visitors disembarked to the joyous beats of the local moutya drums and to the sight of traditional dancers.

Speaking from the Seychelles International Airport, the director general for destination marketing, Bernadette Willemin, said that this milestone marks the beginning of an important chapter in the recovery of Seychelles’ tourism industry.

“Seychelles is on the right path to meet the forecast made by the tourism department in January 2021. Recording over 100 000 visitors this weekend reassures us of the good work all partners are doing to help with the recovery. I applaud the resilience of our industry partners and the other organisations who have contributed to the success of this day,” said Willemin.

Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, was one of the first destinations to reopen its borders to tourism irrespective of visitors’ vaccination status amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The country achieved this feat through a robust nationwide vaccination campaign, training of tourism industry operators in health and safety protocols and opening up to alternative source markets.

The return of small cruise ships in October and the relaxation of measures around the world are expected to boost tourism arrivals further.

In his mid-year budget review delivered on September 7 to the National Assembly, the finance minister, Naadir Hassan, said that since the reopening of the island nation’s borders in March, “we have seen that the tourism sector is doing better than we had predicted at the start of the year.”

“We had foreseen a gross domestic growth of 2.08 percent for the year 2021, however, with new developments in the tourism sector, we have revised our projections and our gross domestic growth is now expected to reach 6.72 percent. Our initial indicators are showing us that we might get a 32.5 percent increase in the number of visitors’ arrivals when compared to 2020,” said Hassan.

By the end of last year, Seychelles welcomed 114,229 visitors to it shores. With a projected increase of 32.5 percent, Seychelles is expected to see the arrival of over 150,000 visitors this year. Seychelles set its visitor arrivals record in 2019, when over 428,000 set foot in the island nation.