Saluted by a traditional water canon as it landed at the Seychelles International Airport, the French national airline, Air France, received a warm welcome on its return to the island nation on the morning of Sunday, October 24, 2021, after an 18-month hiatus.
The 203 guests flying in from France on this first flight were given a taste of creole hospitality as they received local souvenirs from the Department of Tourism and experienced the lively spirit of the Seychellois through live traditional music.
To commemorate the return of the direct connection of the island nation to one of its key traditional markets, and of Seychelles being placed on the approved “Liste Orange” for French travelers, a delegation comprising the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Tourism, Mr. Sylvestre Radegonde; the French Ambassador, His Excellency Dominique Mas; Principal Secretary for Tourism, Mrs. Sherin Francis; and Director General for Destination Marketing, Mrs. Bernadette Willemin were present to welcome the arrivals.
Mrs. Willemin commented that the removal of Seychelles from France’s red list and the return of Air France is not only expected to boost visitor arrivals, it will help improve occupancy not just in hotels, but also in the smaller guesthouses and self-catering establishments and bring more visitors to Praslin, La Digue, and the other islands.
“Having Air France back on our shores is a great moment for our destination. France remains a market that is performing well for us despite the lack of direct flights and the fact that we were on the red list. With the availability of a direct flights to Seychelles as from today, we are forecasting the French market would not only do well in terms of visitor arrivals but also to regain its place in the top three markets.”
The outlook is positive, Mrs. Willemin said. “We are delighted that the six first flights expect full passenger loads and with reports from our French travel trade partners, who have stepped up their promotion of the destination, that their forward bookings to Seychelles are healthy and looking good. Our tourism operators locally, especially the smaller establishments and on islands other than Mahé, have missed our French guests and will be delighted to welcome them back.”
Ambassador Dominique Mas mentioned that having a direct connection will help ease the journey of travelers to Seychelles.
“The improvement of the sanitary situation in both countries has indeed contributed to the restart of travels between France and Seychelles. The decision to place Seychelles on the ‘orange list’ and the arrival of Air France today reiterates the confidence of both governments in the good functioning of their respective safety measures. We are happy to have a direct flight back from the Paris Charles De Gaulle airport as it is now easier for French travelers to get to Seychelles,” said the French Ambassador.
Seychelles, which went back to physical promotional activities in September, recently participated at the 2021 IFTM Top Resa exhibition, one of the main international trade fairs dedicated to tourism in France, Mrs. Willemin said. “IFTM Top Resa was a promising event for us as we noticed a renewed interest in our destination and allowed us to increase our visibility in the media in France.”
Seychelles recorded 43,297 visitor arrivals from France in 2019, making it the country’s second top market for that year. So far in 2021, 8,620 visitors from France have travelled to the islands. With the return of Air France, the Seychelles is now served by 11 airlines.
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