The Seychelles is now open to tourists who have been innoculated against Covid-19, meaning it will be among the first in the world to capitalise on the first wave of ‘Vaccine VIPs’. Olivia Palamountain reports
Good news for vaccinated sun seekers and honeymooners who are rushing to have a holiday this summer – the Indian ocean archipelago of the Seychelles has now opened its borders to immunised travellers, making it the first country in the the world to do so.
To be recognised as “vaccinated”, visitors must be able to prove that they have received two doses of an approved vaccine. They will also need to submit an authentic certificate from their national health authority as proof of the Covid-19 jabs.
Annoyingly, they will also need to provide a negative Covid-19 PCR certificate, obtained less than 72 hours prior to travel. This will create an additional (and seemingly unnecessary) cost for tourists. However, they won’t have to quarantine.
What’s more, they will also still need to adhere to the existing health measures (wearing of face masks, social distancing). Similarly, all tourism operators will still be required to follow their existing Covid-19 standard operating procedure and protocol.
The Seychelles Tourism Board states: “Non-vaccinated persons permitted entry from Category 1 and 2 areas (Category 1 includes permitted low and medium risk countries; Category 2 consists of countries given special status), and entries via private jet will now need to show a negative PCR test obtained less than 72 hours prior to travel.
“Visitors that are not vaccinated or not coming from a Category 1 or 2 countries or travelling by private jet, are still unable to enter. This will be in force until mid-March once Seychelles has vaccinated a large majority of its adult population.”
International visitors are vital to the Seychelles’ economy with the contribution of travel and tourism providing about 40 per cent of the nation’s GDP. It is hoped that the new entry requirements will make the nation more accessible for potential visitors as it restarts tourism activities for 2021 and beyond.
The announcement followed the start of its domestic vaccination roll-out – the country plans to have vaccinated the majority of the adult population by mid-March, including more than 70 per cent of its population under 18.
“From there we will be able to declare Seychelles as being Covid safe,” says President of the Republic of Seychelles, H E Wavel Ramkalawan.
Globetrender predicts that as the weeks go on and the vaccine roll-out continues, more countries will relax travel restrictions to Vaccine VIPs. Cyprus has suggested that immunised persons will not need to meet Covid-related entry rules. However, the country’s ministry of health is yet to confirm if this will go ahead, as planned, in March.
Interestingly, Iceland currently allows proof of Covid-19 antibodies for entry in lieu of a negative test result (will vaccinated tourists will soon be given the same pass?).
Meanwhile, European Union members are lobbying for a “vaccination passport”, with the EU as a whole considering a bloc-wide certificate. Other nations, such as Israel, have firm plans to launch one following its green passport scheme for vaccinated citizens.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in a letter to European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen that EU countries should adopt a “standardised” vaccination certificate in order to boost travel.
“It is urgent to adopt a common understanding on how a vaccination certificate should be structured so as to be accepted in all member states,” he said, calling for a “standardised certificate, which will prove that a person has been successfully vaccinated”.
According to The Times, British tourists “may be welcomed to Greece in May provided they can provide proof of inoculation against the coronavirus”.