Following the announcement that Seychelles will ban cruise ships until 2022 to prevent the arrival of COVID-19 by sea, Rheanna Norris, Associate Analyst GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers the following analysis:
“The decision to ban cruise ships from visiting the Seychelles via its Victoria port could spark a major downturn for this tourism-reliant economy. Cruise ships do not only bring visitors to its 115 islands, but also encourages spending on entertainment and foodservice, alongside accommodation and inspiration for repeat trips.
“Arrivals to the Seychelles via cruise ships quadrupled between 2017 and 2018, with further increases forecasted for 2020 and beyond. This new legislation will eradicate this increase and the islands will rely on tourism by air travel only.
“According to GlobalData, tourism accounted for 25.5% of the Seychelles’ GDP in 2019, making it one of the most tourism dependent countries in the world. Alongside existing travel restrictions and a global slowdown in travel, banning cruise ships is further bad news for this luxury destination.
"This strategic move will help the Seychelles’ other key economic sector: fishing. As its port in Victoria is its only point of entry for the rest of the world, its priority is to not compromise the maritime industry and to protect the nation from the global pandemic at all costs.
“The Seychelles still have a point of entry for tourism via air, and it has already embarked on the road to recovery. With assistance from the government, civil society and Seychelles Investment Board, tourism businesses can look to adapt to the future and inevitable changes in travel.”
Prior to Covid-19, the cruise industry had been experiencing record growth, including 124 ocean-going cruise ships on order, an investment of about US$69 billion. Wybcke Meier, CEO of Tui Cruises, told the newspaper The Telegraph “I am convinced that in the long-term the demand for premium and luxury cruises will not change....we will see the demand for cruises return to pre-crisis level within 12 to 18 months.”
SEYCHELLES, SHIPS AND THE SEA, is now available at Amazon at this link:
SEYCHELLES, SHIPS AND THE SEA: The Story of the Lifeline of Seychelles
This is a maritime history of a maritime nation. There is a symbiotic relationship between ships, the islands and the people of Seychelles: islands are vital to ships as stepping stones across a vast ocean, ships have provided Seychelles with the means for cultural diffusion and for interaction between the people of Europe, Africa and Asia. Ships continue to provide the means to supply the islands on a major highway of maritime trade. The sound and sight of the sea is ever-present to those who live in Seychelles, and the sea is in the blood of Seychellois.
Seychelles is one of the smallest nations on earth in terms of land area but punches above its weight because of the richness and strategic importance of its surrounding ocean. With a vast Exclusive Economic Zone - the second largest in Africa and twenty-fourth in the world. The marine assets of Seychelles are the focus of the tourism industry and tuna fishing industry. The isolation of the islands has blessed Seychelles with a unique biodiversity, including 14 endemic birds, huge seabird colonies and the world’s largest population of giant tortoise. This is all thanks to the vastness of the ocean surrounding the islands. Seychelles was the last nation on earth to be inhabited by humans and it remains dependent upon ships crossing the Indian Ocean for its existence. This book was published in 1969 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of local shipping agents, Mahe Shipping Company, whose story is entwined with the maritime history of Seychelles from the steamship era to the modern age.
Seychelles has upgraded an indefinite ban on cruise ships to announce a ban on all calls until 2022. But how does the industry view the future? These are the top 10 cruise brands by market capacity:
Carnival Cruise Line
Some cruises may resume in North America on 1 August.
Royal Caribbean International
Some services aim to resume 12 June.
MSC Cruises has extended a freeze to 10 July.
Norwegian Cruise Line
An extension to 30 June has been announced.
Costa Cruises has extended the voluntary suspension of its cruises to July.
Princess has cancelled its summer season.
AIDA has frozen operations to 30 June.
Royal Caribbean Cruises plans to resume service where it can on 11 June.
Holland America Line
Holland America has extended its freeze of global operations and cancelled all Alaska, Europe and Canada/New England cruises for 2020. In addition, Amsterdam will not operate the 79-day Grand Africa Voyage from Boston, Massachusetts, to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, that was scheduled to depart on 3 October 2020.
Clearly some or even all of these dates may be over-optimistic. But the view of the industry is that this should be kept under continual review.
Following the discovery of an 11th Covid-19 case in Seychelles, a lockdown period of almost a month was enforced. Mahe Shipping continued to provide clearing and forwarding services to the community throughout this period, including some staff working from home and a skeleton staff at Head Office. With no further cases detected and lockdown restrictions eased the company is now operating full steam ahead once again, as illustrated in this photo from Andy Gobine, Head of Freight Forwarding and Relocations.
The Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine Didier Dogley has announced a ban on visiting cruiseships with immediate effect until the beginning of 2022. An indefinite ban was already in place in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis. Given that cruise itineraries are typically scheduled two or more years in advance, the long term impact of this measure will undoubtedly be felt for many years to come.
There have been 11 cases of Covid-19 in Seychelles and no deaths. All cases have been linked directly or indirectly to Seychelles International Airport and incoming flights.