Dubai: Already a haven for adventure seekers and nature lovers, Seychelles could be what everyone needs for a much-needed respite from city life. From the white sand beaches, captivating nature and the warmth of Seychelles hospitality, there are more than one reason why travellers from the UAE are choosing the 115-island archipelago in the Indian Ocean as their favourite travel destination.
Between 2018-20, the UAE has ranked in either fourth or fifth as international visitor arrivals, “but as of now the UAE is ranked in second place,” said Ahmed Fathallah, Director – Middle East at Seychelles Tourism Board
Opening up further
In alliance with Emirates airline, the STB has taken steps to make it even easier for travellers from the UAE to realise their dream island getaway. Seychelles has been open for tourism since August 2020, with Emirates being the first international airline to return to the island, according to an Emirates spokesperson. Emirates operates more than seven weekly flights to Seychelles from Dubai.
A number of events have been lined up at the island destination, including an upcoming fashion week and a tourism festival, while free-diving workshops are widely available. The sporting scene is also being revitalised, with an ‘eco-friendly marathon’ among the events being organised. The race is planned to be held on the last Sunday of February.
More than anything, the beaches and enchanting nature destinations, combined with a sense of exclusivity and privacy, remain the main reasons tourists keep coming back to the islands. “I don’t think of it as though they’re offering Seychelles to tourists or travellers; instead, they’re offering an image of seclusion [and] serenity,” said Fathallah. “They’re offering a much-needed relief from the hustle and bustle of life. It’s been their consistent brand image.
“Seychelles is known as a haven for couples, honeymooners, and people who love the beach and nature.”
For families, Fathallah said there are a variety of four- and five-star family resorts, with activities ranging from scuba diving and encounters with whale sharks to revitalising nature hikes. “For adventure seekers, it’s important to note that a vast majority of activities revolve around the waters. They’ve got scuba diving packages, with more than 50 diving spots where you could even swim with the whale sharks,” said Fathallah.
“Plus, they’ve got parasailing and paragliding activities to partake in. However, if they’ve exhausted all activities revolving around the ocean, Copolia Trail makes a superb morning hike.”
Fathallah said the Moyenne Islands, home to some of the world's largest and oldest tortoises, is another must-visit. “There’s also the Victoria Market, a wondrous place to discover the spices, secrets, and scents that make up this quaint island,” says Fathallah of one of the hotspots in the capital city of Victoria, located on the north-eastern side of the country’s main island Mahé.
Strict on timings
Safety, however, remains a priority across the archipelago to protect residents and tourists alike. Throughout the islands, tourists need to note that there is a daily restriction of movement from 11pm-4am. All passengers arriving in Seychelles, whether tourists or citizens, are also required to secure a health travel authorisation (HTA).
“Vaccination is not required, although the wearing of face mask is mandatory throughout your stay in Seychelles,” said Fathallah. “Thanks to these fair health protocols, it is still possible to safely wander through the islands of Seychelles via ferries and other means of transportation.”
According to the Emirates spokesperson, UAE travellers to Seychelles are required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test, conducted within 72 hours of the date of travel. The airline is also providing more “customer-centric solutions”, including flexible booking policies, an extension of its multi-risk insurance cover, and helping customers retain their miles and tier status.
UAE travellers can plan their travel from a range of holiday packages, with Emirates Holidays offering a three-night stay with curated experiences starting from Dh4,699 per person. Flights from Dubai take around four hours, with both locations having the same time zone.