Grandcourt made a courtesy visit to Wavel Ramkalawan at State House on Thursday. (Seychelles Nation)
(Seychelles News Agency) – The President of Seychelles has been invited to visit the headquarters of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation in Spain, the regional director for UNWTO Africa said.
That director, Elsia Grandcourt, a Seychellois national, told reporters that during her courtesy visit to Wavel Ramkalawan at State House on Thursday, she extended the invitation on behalf of the UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili.
Grandcourt, a former chief executive of the Seychelles Tourism Board, joined the UNWTO as regional director for Africa in August 2013 and is based at the headquarters in Madrid, Spain. She is currently back in the island nation in the western Indian Ocean on holiday.
She said that her discussion with the President touched on the Seychelles’ tourism industry.
Seychelles reopened its borders in March to relaunch its tourism industry which was severely affected by a downturn in travel as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Grandcourt said that while the tourism industry worldwide suffered a major blow from the COVID-19 pandemic, “I believe that Seychelles has taken some good decisions.”
“We see the vaccination programme that started and the protocols in place in the various tourism establishments have given the tourists the trust to come back to Seychelles,” she said.
|She said that her discussion with the President touched on the Seychelles’ tourism industry. (Seychelles Nation) Photo license: CC-BY|
Tourism is the top contributor to the Seychelles’ economy, and while visitors are returning to the archipelago, they are not from the traditional markets.
From May to June, Russia topped the list of visitors coming to Seychelles with 11,328 or 26 percent of the total. Second was the United Arab Emirates with 6,359 or 15 percent of the total, followed by Israel with 5,746 visitors.
The traditional markets are countries such as Germany, France, UK and North Ireland which brought in the highest number of tourists for the last five years.
“The type of visitors is different now that visitors from the traditional markets are no longer flocking to the Seychelles. We always have to adopt good practices because we have to regain travellers’ confidence. To travel, people have to feel safe in the first place to board a plane and they also want to see that the destination they choose for their holidays are taking steps to ensure their security,” said Grandcourt.
She added that the travel industry will have to adapt to the new conditions going forward.
“The pandemic is constantly evolving and we have to adapt. There are many countries that are yet to open their borders to visitors. The good news is that every time a country opens its borders to visitors, others can follow suit and adopt good practices that will sustain the industry,” she said.
Seychelles has been a member of the UNWTO since 1991, and Grandcourt said that the organisation has always had a good relationship with Seychelles as a destination.