The Seychelles has become the first country in the world to allow vaccinated tourists to enter the country without the need to quarantine.
Travellers who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will still need to follow social distancing measures, but they will now be allowed to visit the Indian Ocean archipelago without self-isolating upon arrival.
The country began vaccinating its population earlier this month, rolling out the Sinopharm vaccine on 10 January.
Tourism is arguably the most important industry to the Seychelles’ economy, with 15 per cent of the working population directly employed by the sector. The relaxed restrictions for vaccinated tourists are being introduced in the hope that this can give a much-needed economic boost to the country.
Can you travel to the Seychelles if you haven’t had the COVID-19 vaccine?
The Seychelles has had 746 cases of COVID-19 in total and there is an upward trend of infections there at the moment.
As a result, the government has tightened entry restrictions, depending on the risk in the country you’re coming from.
If you are travelling there, you will need to send an application form to the Public Health Authority before you travel. This applies to all travellers, even those who have received the vaccine.
Until 28 January, the government has said that international tourists must have a negative PCR test result before departure and be prepared to self-isolate at their accommodation for 10 days upon arrival.
To be exempt from self-isolating on arrival, you’ll need to have received both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine two weeks before you depart for the Seychelles.
New conservation experience in the Outer Islands
As well as easing restrictions for vaccinated tourists, the Seychelles are also launching a major push for conservation-focused travel.
While most tourists flock to the inner islands of the Seychelles, the more remote places such as Alphonse Island remain largely undisturbed, which means they’re teeming with wildlife.
Alphonse is the only outer island to currently have accommodation for tourists - in the form of luxury beach bungalows and villas. It’s a one hour flight from Mahé, the largest island in the Seychelles.
A lot of the tourism activities on Alphonse revolve around the sea: from popular water sports such as paddle boarding to conservation and marine safaris. And from May this year, a new experience could give you a real taste of being a marine conservationist.
Visitors to Alphonse Island will have the opportunity to see the island’s beautiful marine life up close - and even have the chance to help with conservation projects.
The Explorer Season Conservation Experience is due to run between May and November this year. Activities include: underwater wildlife photography, planting trees, feeding giant tortoise and beach clean-ups.
With travel accounting for 30 per cent of the GDP, the Seychelles has been hit hard by the current pandemic, so, like other tourism-dependent nation, the country is hopeful that a vaccine will help restart the industry soon. .
But the World Health Organisation (WHO) have warned governments not to rush to relax restrictions on immunised travellers while the full effectiveness of the vaccine is still unknown.