As of June 1, 2020, visits to the Vallée de Mai will be possible again with the addition of a new booking system that will be in operation as of May 25. This new booking system is part of the Seychelles Islands Foundation’s (SIF) efforts to ensure the health and safety of all visitors to the Vallee de Mai and its staff during the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic. Though tourist numbers are low at present, SIF believes that reopening the Vallée de Mai for visitors is an essential part of its community service, in providing a green space for the local community and the public in general. Since April 9, SIF has had to close Seychelles’ most visited natural site due to the global pandemic. Although security and surveillance operations have been active throughout this closure, it has only been since the May 4, with the easing of restrictions, that research monitoring and operations at the Vallée de Mai have resumed.
With the introduction of this new booking system, SIF is able to reopen this UNESCO World Heritage Site to the public. Despite the difficult current circumstances Seychellois are still able to enter the park for free, whist ticket prices for tourists remain unchanged, at SCR350, for the time being. To book and visit, all Vallée de Mai visitors (Seychellois, GOP holders and foreigners alike), must either email: firstname.lastname@example.org, call 2595400 or Whatsapp message 2595400 at least a day ahead of their visit. Visits will be booked on the basis of selecting 1 hour slots during visiting hours. It must be noted that group sizes are limited to 4 people per visit and that visiting hours are between 9.00 am – 4.00 pm, in which the last entry for the day is 3.00 pm. In order to make a booking, visitors must provide the following details: full name of organizers of the visit, their contact number, the number of people in their group (maximum 4 per group) and the date and time of their visit.
Bookings can be made throughout the working week (8.00 am – 4.00 pm). However, for weekend visits, bookings must be made by Friday 12.00 pm latest. Once bookings are made, they will be confirmed or rescheduled via email or a phone call within 1 hour (during the working week) of the booking. To cancel or reschedule, visitors must inform SIF 4 hours ahead of time. Furthermore, while tourist numbers remain low, visitors will be able to book multiple one hour slots for the duration of their visit. However, this allocation of slots may change depending on the volume of bookings.
The creation of this booking system is part of SIF’s efforts to ensure its sites, staff and visitors are following directives set out by the Department of Health and best practices when it comes to operating under the new reality of COVID-19. Other measures SIF is enacting in the face of these unprecedented times include developing a COVID-19 health and safety guideline for its staff, only accepting electronic payments for Vallée de Mai ticket sales and other transactions, as well as the installation of hand sanitizer dispensers and other facilities to enhance levels of hygiene and social distancing.