NAIROBI, March 4 (Reuters) – Seychelles says it is reopening borders to tourists this month, hoping to resuscitate a sector that is a mainstay for the economy but has been battered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Authorities sealed off the Indian Ocean archipelago early during the pandemic to stem the spread. The move starved resorts, cruise ship ports and nature reserves of customers.
“Seychelles will reopen to tourists from all over the world … on March 25,” state-owned Seychelles News Agency reported, citing remarks by Minister for Foreign Affairs and Tourism Sylvestre Radegonde.
Only tourists from South Africa would not be allowed.
Revenues from tourism fell 61% last year as anti-coronavirus restrictions cut arrivals by 70%.
New visitors will need a negative COVID-19 test done within 72 hours prior to arrival. No quarantines will be imposed, but tourists will be required to stay in hotels certified as complying with coronavirus easures.
Wearing masks, hand sanitising, and social and physical distancing will be mandatory.
“We are hoping that this will give the economy the breathing space that the economy needs, the country needs,” the agency quoted Radegonde as saying.
Seychelles began vaccinating its population of over 98,000 in January with doses from China’s Sinopharm.
The country so far has at least 2,618 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 11 deaths, according to World Health Organisation (WHO) data. (Writing by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)
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