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For All the News from Seychelles, May 2020


Welcome to Edition #5 of Volume #4 of 2020 

Friday 1st May 2020

Happy Labour Day 

Today is the 1st of May and we join the Community of Nations to celebrate Workers Day. I'd like to take this opportunity to wish every Seychellois a Happy Labour Day! For Seychelles, we are aware that the wishes we extend to you all in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic with many a broken promise by the Government to pay salaries of all private sector employees that failed to materialise on the 30th April, gives little reason for the working Seychellois to celebrate. On the contrary, the broken promises are causing anxiety.  We all know that COVID-19 has put our small country into an economic crisis, but with all the dedication displayed by our employees alongside their employers, we were all hoping that Officers in the Civil Service would honour the declarations made on National Television by the President of the Republic where he guaranteed that employees would receive their salaries after the passing of the revised Budget 2020 by the National Assembly. As we mark May the 1st, messages being received from across the country show disappointment that the words of the President were just empty words. We take this opportunity to salute our local entrepreneurs and businesses who have not let their employees down and who are paying their workforce and not waiting for the promised stimulus packages.  We say 'Be Strong' and 'Be Courageous' to every Seychellois in this difficult and challenging period and end by again saying a big thank you to all the Medical Front Line Team for a job well done!

COVID-19, while serving to unite the world against a common enemy, has also brought the world of tourism to its knees. We said this last week and we say it again because it is as relevant today. For the most part, countries have closed their borders, planes have been grounded forcing some airline companies to fold, and travellers are on lock-down; all in a bid to stop the spread of the virus. These drastic measures, however necessary under the circumstances, have tightened the noose around the neck of tourism-reliant businesses, many of which cannot survive the months of financial uncertainty to come. This extends from the humble fisherman who sold his daily catch to the hotels, to the large-scale Destination Management Companies (DMCs) that employ hundreds of staff, to the taxi operators and freelance guides etc. Countries that took tourism for granted are today feeling the financial strain associated with the unprecedented demise of the once thriving industry. Many countries around the globe have announced stimulus packages for the private sector to ensure they remain afloat. Seychelles made the same announcements but failed to deliver on the assistance. Employees were promised or guaranteed a salary and announcements were made to ensure that no redundancies would be allowed. The message by the Ministry of Employment was the equivalent of a gun pointed to the employer's head. As employees are somewhat assured that redundancies would not be approved, many will be on the streets as businesses close their doors because they are simply unable to sustain the lack of revenue. Many businesses are looking at going to Court to contest the redundancy directives that were not followed by the Presidential Promise of salaries by the Government for all employees. The word of a President and a promise to the country must mean something and the Seychelles Judiciary will need to be called upon to determine if what is said in a Presidential Address has merit or remains just 'feel good' maneuvering. Businesses are suffering and even when a claim for assistance is approved, it is only a fraction of what is needed.  The COVID-19 pandemic is a trying moment. But what is being questioned is the role of the Government when its citizens are in dire need of salvation. Should the people be placed at the centre of every decision taken. Should the businesses that keep the people in employment be the focus of decisions. A referendum on the actions taken by all in elected offices will arrive soon and the People will have their chance to pass judgement on everything done and executed in the name of the People, for the People and by the People.

Seychelles Tourism to open: Step by step plan released by President Danny Faure

The message echoed by the Seychelles President showed determination as he said that all restrictions of movement of people will be removed from next Monday 4th May. That includes, he said, religious gatherings and funerals under guidance of Public Health. The President went on to spell out that all shops will remain open until 8pm and that businesses will re-open with guidance from Public Health. The Seychelles President announced that Daycare Centers and post-secondary institutions will re-open on 11th May, and all other schools will re-open on 18th May. Finally, as part of his address on the 27th April, the President announced that the Seychelles International Airport will re-open to all commercial flights on 1st June and that Seychellois will be able to travel abroad as per guidance and regulations issued by the Department of Health. He also confirmed that foreign pleasure crafts and yachts will also be allowed in port all with strict surveillance that will continue on arriving passengers and that sporting activities can resume, following guidance from the Department of Health. The  Seychelles President's announcement does not mean that the islands will see a sudden relaunch of the Seychelles Tourism Industry. The key tourism source markets for Seychelles are still under total or partial lockdown and a lot of the airports are still closed.  But also the Public Health Commissioner has, since the President's announcements, brought out conditions that limit tourism as we knew it and ensures the relaunch is not happening in May.

Jamaica united for tourism beyond party politics in face of COVID-19

Last week, we spoke about the Tourism Relaunch Committee set up in Reunion Island by Didier Robert, the island's Regional President. Today we look at Jamaica where the sitting Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett, has announced that the Opposition Spokesperson on Tourism (who was the island's former Tourism Minister) Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill has accepted membership to the COVID-19 Tourism Recovery Taskforce. Decisions now are for Jamaica by Jamaicans and not by a political party.

“I am very pleased to announce that we have the support of Dr. McNeill, as we collectively tackle the impact of COVID-19 and find solutions that can best help the vulnerable people of our sector who were most impacted. I know that with his help and the help of other key experts, we will develop a sound recovery and growth stimulation framework for the Tourism sector. We truly need all hands on deck,” said Minister Bartlett.

The Task Force will establish a realistic view of the sector’s baseline or starting position; develop scenarios for multiple versions of the future; establish the strategic posture for the sector as well as a broad direction of the journey back to growth; establish actions and strategic imperatives that will be reflected across various scenarios; and establish trigger points to tackle action, which includes a planned vision in a world that is learning to evolve rapidly.

“The Task Force includes members covering all our tourism sectors, which will be our overall policy and strategy development team. The second layer is a working team, which is more technical in nature, and will include divisional leaders from the Ministry of Tourism,” said Minister Bartlett.

A good piece of news from Praslin in this challenging time

22 employees were rewarded from 22 tourism establishments

Annia Constance, the Manageress at the Cote D'Or Footprints tourism establishment at Cote D'Or Praslin was one of the employees recognised at the 2019 Tourism Employee of the Year Awards Ceremony. To see a young dedicated Seychellois tourism professional recognised is always good especially when one can appreciate the passion and dedication with which she manages the establishment under her care. 22 employees were rewarded from 22 tourism establishments was recorded by Seychelles Nation in their article covering the award ceremony. This was the second Tourism Employee of the Year award ceremony where, compared to the first edition where 14 employees were rewarded, this time 22 employees were honoured from 22 tourism establishments. This award aims to give recognition to employees in the hotel industry who are doing their utmost to deliver an excellent service. This award ceremony was launched in 2018 by the Ministry of Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine where 14 employees from 14 establishments were recognised in the presence of the Minister for Employment and the Minister for Tourism. This year, 22 establishments – both small and large, forming part of our inner and outer islands – took part in this event. The Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine, Didier Dogley and the principal secretary Anne Lafortune together with the general managers and staff of the different hotels attended this event. During the event, Minister Dogley talked about the 6% increase in visitor arrivals in 2019 compared to 2018 and noted that the “vulnerability of Seychelles to external forces such as the outbreak of diseases like the coronavirus, decisions taken at international level such as Brexit, the impact of climate change and sea-level rise have powerful impacts on our tourism industry”. He further highlighted the importance of the human resource as an asset to the successful development of the tourism industry. “We need to continue to invest in the quality training of the locals who wish to take up a career in the tourism industry. Nevertheless, the teaching and refinement of skills alone is inadequate to mould a desirable workforce for the tourism industry. This should be driven by a national agenda aimed at inculcating a sense of patriotism in our people and a deep-rooted appreciation for our tourism industry.” Minister Dogley commended the campaigns launched by the Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association and the launching of tourism clubs in the schools. He also urged all the hotel managers and human resources to set the bar high in terms of employing, training and nurturing their workforce. “The government is working to ensure that tourism remains the pillar of the economy and that all Seychellois may reap the benefits of this industry,” concluded the minister. Addressing the winners, PS Lafortune noted that “today you serve as a good role model for other service staff to emulate and to uphold the standard of the hotel industry. Your continuous strive for service excellence is all the more important as the Seychelles hospitality industry continues to boom. Rica Bonne, best employee from Hilton Labriz Resort and Spa, said that without her colleagues and her general manager she would have never made it. “I am so proud of myself and my family is so proud of me. With Hilton I am really growing. It’s been only one and a half years that I joined Hilton and was also chosen as female leader of the year 2019. This month I will be attending a conference in South Africa on ‘Women in leadership’ sponsored by the hotel. I started as a trainee cook under the scheme of the Ministry of Employment then moved to an accountant clerk, then moved to an HR clerk on Ste Anne Resort Beachcomber and then promoted as HR assistant and once Ste Anne Resort went under renovation I moved to Hilton. I would advise the youth that if you have determination and willingness you will succeed in the hotel industry. Seize your chance.” Source:- Seychelles Nation Newspaper

The world at large rallies to work for tourism

Tourism Leaders rally for their industry

Honoured to have been invited to address the virtual conference after Dr Taleb Rifai speech

Rebuilding Travel & Tourism Virtual Conference with some eighty countries represented was held on Thursday night. Rebuilding Travel is Public-Private Partnership that showcases the position of tourism as it stands today, discusses ongoing projects and corporate, regional and global issues. Ministers and former Ministers were joined by influential tourism and airline leaders from right accross the globe for a two hour thirty minutes virtual conference (starting at ten pm Seychelles Time on the 30th April). The initiative was spearheaded by Juergen Steinmetz from his eTN Base in Hawaii.  Discussions were interesting as it tabled the take on tourism today as seen and witnessed in the four corners of the world. Congratulations to Juergen Steinmetz and to all the eighty plus countries who made time to participate for a common cause.

It is important to again acknowledge all who are diligently re-posting the Saint Ange Tourism Report weekly. Our Report ranges far and wide, from Australia to the Americas, from the Indian Ocean Vanilla islands to Africa & Asian and Greater Europe, with your continued support, which is greatly appreciated. You are helping us to grow from strength to strength with each new Edition.

Enjoy the read,

Alain St.Ange

Saint Ange Consultancy

A Simple Message from Creole Travel 

Greetings from Creole and the Seychelles!

2020 has come to be a year of challenges, and it has become clearer than ever just how connected we are as countries, economies and people. As we all struggle to adapt to the changes in how we function as businesses in the face of the global pandemic brought on by COVID-19, we will continue to be steadfast in our commitment to support and encourage our partners both locally and internationally. The very core of our industries revolves around providing comfort and empathy to our clients. By providing the same to each other now, we will overcome our current struggles together to come out stronger and better, on the day our clients can once again fly the skies and sail the seas to our waiting islands. Until then, let us all keep our passions alive and see each other through. Together, we shall overcome. Guillaume Albert - CEO |  Eric Renard - GM

The Big Interview by a Seychelles Tourism Professional

With the kind permission of TODAY Newspaper we republish their Business Interview with Alan Mason, the Managing Director of Mason's Travel. This interview has been followed by many concerned Seychellois and many forwarded comments to us for publishing. Today, we again make a personal appeal to President Danny Faure and to the Leader of the Opposition Wavel Ramkalawan, to join in a bi-partisan approach across party lines, be it red, green, blue and orange, to rebuild the tourism industry and pull Seychelles out of bankruptcy. The time is now to join forces in unity to rebuild Seychelles. Today, where we are is just the beginning of the disaster ahead. We need to work together to make Seychelles work.   No one can stay silent on non payment of workers in private sector. We have a moral obligation to come together to make this happen. Government is the biggest shareholder of every private sector business and collects its share through the different taxes levied. Today, it needs to inject its financial support to ensure Seychelles is ready for a post-COVID19 era.

Seychelles needs its sons and daughters to rally and to be leaders in this challenging time.

Praslin Business Association

Praslin Business Association wishes to express its deep regret that the announcement by President Danny Faure to pay all workers in the private sector for three months and six months if necessary in exchange for zero redundancy by the private sector, is being met by unilateral amendment of this executive promulgation by the Finance Committee for Corona Virus headed by Mr. Patrick Payet, Secretary of Finance. The argument posed by Mr. Payet is false, in as much as he says :” if a company has money in the bank, he should pay its workers”. Money in the bank may have numerous commitments during the Corona Virus downturn, suppliers must be paid, insurance policies maintained, maintenance work on hotels must go on, which the Finance Committee application form for assistance did not question. The PBA hopes the administrators of this scheme honor the word of the President and stop playing petty administrative games when faced with a serious national crisis which requires that money be paid out from very healthy Reserves to the needy, unemployment, business community en bloc as is similar in practice to all first world countries, Seychelles. It must be noted in case administrators of the Reserves have forgotten, the use of Reserves in a pandemic , is precisely what its intended use is. This is why a Nation sacrifices to build Reserves. Additionally, given the devaluation of Seychelles Rupee against hard currencies, by 30% , government must relook at the 15% VAT component and excise tax component of imports which unless reduced temporarily, will result in increase in goods cost by 50-70%. To restart the Tourism Industry, with success, Government must remain mindful we will be competing with the whole world for tourists. With that thought, the Government must do an exercise to see what fees can be reduced for tourists. Airport taxes will have to be reduced, fuel taxes, landing fees , entrance fees, room tax, to insure the Seychelles product remains a competitive product in a highly competitive world. Finally, the PBA advises all of Seychelles, that this economic downturn will be short-lived in its opinion, and once Europe reopens , flight commence, Seychelles Business will return to the robust glory it enjoyed leading up to Corona Virus. For this reason, we should all be encouraged, think positive, and make sound decisions to preserve our economic infrastructure and not make short term , short sighted decisions, that will challenge this national objective. If we are proceeding in unity and solidarity as a country to over come these generational challenges, key players must keep their word, execute their mandate with dignity and self respect honorably.

Editor's Note:- The La Digue Business Association is also screaming foul. The Business Associations of these two islands reflect the general atmosphere of the islands. Everyone is unhappy. It is not too late to do the right thing and this is listening to the people.

Africa Coronavirus and its Impact on Ocean Islands

by Kester Kenn Klomegah under Modern Diplomacy

Understandingly, it has become important to analyze the spread of coronavirus and its impact on the economy of small islands especially Cape Verde, Mauritius, Maldives, Seychelles, Vanuatu and the Union of Comoros. These islands, which are favorite tourist posts and foreign investors, have also closely diverse geopolitical relationship with the world.

It comes into spectacular focus for this research study, although in general, the islands seem to have the lowest cases of the pandemic, and efforts taken in preparedness against the disease, and the possible effects on their economies and sociocultural lives of the population. Part of the research and monitoring is presented here in three headings as follows: (i) The Islands and Coronavirus: An Overview, (ii) Economic Impact of Coronavirus on these Islands and (iii) Current Scenarios and Lessons for the Future.

The Islands and Coronavirus: An Overview

The coronavirus disease appeared first in 2019 in Wuhan city in China. The disease was, first identified in Wuhan and Hubei, both in China early December 2019. The original cause still unknown but its symptoms include high body temperature with persistent dry cough and acute respiratory syndrome. Some medical researchers say it is a pneumonia-related disease.

Late December 2019, Chinese officials notified the World Health Organization (WHO) about the outbreak of the disease in the city of Wuhan in China. Since then, cases of the novel coronavirus – named COVID-19 by the WHO – have spread around the world. WHO declared the outbreak to be an international health concern only on 30 January, and then recognized it as a “pandemic” on 11 March 2020.

The basic transmission mechanisms of the coronavirus are the same worldwide. But the speed and pattern of spread definitely varies from country to country, urban to rural and place to place. It depends on cultural practices, traditional customs and social lifestyles. A densely populated township can have a different trajectory to a middle-class suburb or a village. The epidemic can spread differently and among nomadic peoples.

There have been claims that this coronavirus may not likely survive in hot countries due to the tropical climate in these regions, yet cases of this virus are already confirmed in these tropical countries. There are officially confirmed coronavirus cases on the islands of Cape Verde, Mauritius, Maldives and Seychelles.

On the Cape Verde, about 300 miles (483 kilometers) off the west coast of Senegal, consists of 10 islands and five islets, all but three of which are mountainous. The island has a total of 55 reported cases among its half a million population, according to the Cape Verde’s Public Health National Institute.

Mauritius is a very small island far away from China – and yet greatly affected by the coronavirus. Mauritius is a country reliant on tourism. The sector accounts for roughly a quarter of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Since the first three case investigated and confirmed on 18 March, Mauritius now has 324, including 65 recoveries and 9 death, according to the Health Ministry.

On 15 April 2020, no new cases were reported, three patients who recovered from the coronavirus agreed to donate their blood through Plasmapheresis, according to the official website of the Health Ministry.

Maldives, officially referred to as the Republic of Maldives, is a small island in South Asia, located in the Arabian Sea of the Indian Ocean. Its population, one of the most geographically dispersed, is nearly 400,000 and the island attracts many foreign tourists throughout the year.

The disease got to Maldives on 7 March 2020 from an Italian tourist who had returned to Italy after spending holidays in Kuredu Resort & Spa. Thereafter, the Health Protection Agency of the Maldives confirmed two more cases in the Maldives, both employees of the resort. Following this, the hotel was closed down, several tourists stranded on the island.

On 27 March, the government announced the first confirmed case of a Maldivian citizen with COVID-19, a passenger who had returned from the United Kingdom. And that brought the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 16; there are other 15 foreign citizens. Thus, in April the figured climbed to 28 cases.

Seychelles, located in the Indian Ocean, reported its first two cases on 14 March. The two cases were people who were in contact with someone in Italy who tested positive. On 15 March, a third case arriving from The Netherlands was confirmed, and the next day, there were four confirmed cases, visitors from The Netherlands. As at 20 April, there are only 11 confirmed cases and two patients quickly recovered and have been released.

Vanuatu is a Pacific island country located in the South Pacific Ocean. It is east of northern Australia, nearer to New Guinea, Solomon and Fiji islands. Vanuatu has a population of approximately 250,000. All these islands’ mainstays of the economy are agriculture and tourism. They attract tourists throughout the year. As of 3 April 2020, it has no coronavirus but still vulnerable, if strict measures are not adopted. It, however, continues its surveillance.

There are five public hospitals, and one private hospital with 27 health centers located across the islands and more than 200 aid posts in more remote areas. The two major referral hospitals are located in Port Vila and Luganville in the country.

The Union of Comoros, an island nation to the east is Mozambique and northwest is Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, gained independence from France on 6 July 1975. In mid-2017, Comoros joined the Southern African Development Community (SADC) with 15 other regional member states. The Comoros share mostly African-Arab origins. It economic activities are the same as other ocean islands.

On 17 April, Chief Epidemiologist, Dr. Izzy Gerstenbluth, indicated that 269 people have been tested so far, 106 men and 163 women. The number of confirmed cases is still at 14 as the official counted figure. One has died, one is still in the hospital, 10 are safe and three are active. 18 are being actively monitored and 12 are still in quarantine because they returned to the island after the measures were announced

The Medical & Health Affairs Department (G & Gz) of the Ministry of Health, Environment and Nature (GMN) keeps a close eye on how the new coronavirus spreads and behaves worldwide. The G & Gz team is in direct contact with Curaçao Airport Partners (CAP), Curaçao Tourist Board (CTB), Curaçao Hospitality and Tourism Association (CHATA), the Analytical Diagnostic Center (ADC), Curaçao Medical Center (CMC) and Department of Immigration.

Here are the aforementioned coronavirus figures: Cape Verde (55), Mauritius (324), Maldives (28), Seychelles (11), Vanuatu (0) and the Union of Comoros (14), it would be erroneous to attribute tourism as the key reason for comparatively high numbers of cases in Mauritius. Of course, more Chinese are attracted there so as South Africans. There is propensity that the figures may not rise as the island governments have also taken strict control measures.

Economic Impact of Coronavirus on these Islands

The already weak capacity of health care system on these four islands – Cape Verde, Mauritius, Maldives, Seychelles, Vanuatu and the Union of Comoros – is likely to exacerbate the pandemic and its impact on their economies. These islands’ coronavirus disease burden is not so different from each other. But in each case, the key factor is the economic models and what these mean for this circumstance.

As an example, Maldives took an admirable step in the health sector. The Maldivian government turned the resort island of Villivaru in the Kaafu Atoll into a quarantine facility, described as “the world’s first coronavirus resort”, where patients would enjoy a luxurious stay and free medical care. According to Minister of Tourism, Ali Waheed, the Maldives had 2,288 beds available for quarantine as of late March 2020.

Obviously, other economic implications of the coronavirus are detrimental not only to public health systems but to trade and travel industry. On all the islands, small-scale agriculture that includes fishing, local industries as well as retail markets are largely affected. More than 80% of people in rural areas depend on subsistence farming for survival; however, restrictions on market activities would limit market access.

It is worth to say that both agriculture and fishing in these islands are conducted at subsistence level and for small-scale exports. Seafood is very popular and resultantly export of seafood is curtailed. The Maldives’ economy is dependent on tourism, which dropped severely due to travel restrictions amid the pandemic. Experts warned of an economic contraction and possible difficulties paying back foreign debt, especially to China.

Specifically, it is estimated that the shutdown implemented to control the pandemic costs the Mauritian economy about 5% of the country’s GDP for the full 15-day lockdown announced by government on 20 March. Later, there was sanitary curfew started on 23 March and was extended up to 15 April 2020. Now, the lockdown was again extended till 4 May to further contain the spread of the COVID-19 in Mauritius.

As already known, Cape Verde, Mauritius, Maldives, Seychelles, Vanuatu and the Union of Comoros depend mostly on the travel industry. Due to the outbreak of this coronavirus, all these governments have imposed restrictions on travel to the islands that have the best climate and attractive beaches. Travel restriction imposed, thus paralyzing tourism industry in all the four islands.

The Government of Maldives and the Tourism Ministry of the Maldives with the guidance of the Health Protection Agency of the Maldives (HPA) placed a temporary travel restriction for the following countries to control new cases. Since then, there are no passengers (traffic) originating from, transiting to or with a travel history of said country/province is to be permitted into the Maldives. Maldivians and spouses of Maldivians who are foreign nationals are allowed in, but subject to observe quarantine measures.

The Cape Verdean authorities have closed all sea borders and stopped internal flights between the islands. Travelers are required to comply with any additional screening measures put in place by the authorities. As a further step, the government has declared a state of emergency for the whole country until 17 April, the details of which can be found here (in Portuguese). This has activated a series of measures including significant restrictions on movement nationally and internationally.

However, all citizens have been instructed to remain at home unless they needed to carry out the following activities. These are: (i) to buy food or other essential items, (ii) to go to work if unable to work from home, (iii) to go to hospital or health centers, (iv) to carry out caring or similar duties or in case of real need, and (v) to walk pets. Cape Verde’s Public Health National Institute pledged to help in cases of emergency.

Since the beginning of March, the Mauritian authorities have been conducting ‘Contact Tracing’: people who have been in contact with infected patients have been placed under quarantine, including doctors, nurses and police officers.

Seychelles banned any person from Seychelles from travelling to China, South Korea, Italy and Iran. These countries have high cases. An exception is made for returning residents, under similar rules taken by Cape Verde, Mauritius and Vanuatu.

The most significant remittances to Cape Verde, Mauritius, Maldives, Seychelles, Vanuatu and the Union of Comoros as a source of financial stability come from the islanders who work as temporary laborers around the world, disappeared. The Union of Comoros depends heavily on remittances. For instance, there are between 200,000 and 350,000 Comorians in France. Official statistics are hard to find especially most of the government sources and international organizations become inaccessible for required information.

There have been a steady development or facelift in the cities over the past years. A substantial process of urbanization is still unfolding in Cape Verde, especially to the cities of Praia and Mindelo. The same trend development and expansion in Mauritius, Maldives, Seychelles, Vanuatu and the Union of Comoros.

Beyond all the points raised above, Dr Antipas Massawe, a former lecturer from the Department of Chemical and Mining Engineering, University of Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania, East Africa, strongly insisted that “the scale of the challenges facing the health sector is tremendous, it requires extensive investment of resources and governments have to direct focus on the sustainable solutions.”

Charles Prempeh, a lecturer in Africana Studies at the African University College of Communications (AUCC), and a doctoral candidate at University of Cambridge, also explains in an email that there are deficiencies – ranging from poor health policies through inadequate funding of health infrastructure to training and research – that have characterized the health sector in Africa. Ocean islands have similar pitfalls or problems.

Amid the fast spreading coronavirus in some regions, it is simply providential that the African continent has not recorded high numbers, compared to the so-called western countries. But it is also true that even with the relatively smaller number of cases that most countries in Africa have recorded, there are deep-seated doubts that the health system can match squarely with the debilitating effect of the virus, as they have come under disproportionate strain, according to him.

“The current situation is serious setback,” both academics acknowledged. But further suggested that small island governments draw a long term development plan, make consistent efforts at mobilizing resources for realizing – support for education, health and employment generating sectors, – the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Current Scenarios and Lessons for the Future

It is time for solidarity, to fight the end the global health mess. The key lessons for epidemic response are to act fast but act locally. That is exactly what Cape Verde, Mauritius, Maldives, Seychelles, Vanuatu and the Union of Comoros are focusing on now.

But as the international response gains momentum, some financial assistance may be extended to these islands. The islands hospitals need testing kits, basic materials for hygiene, personal protective equipment for the professional health workers, and equipment for assisted breathing. There is a global shortage of all of these and a shameful scramble among developed countries to get their own supplies – relegating Cape Verde, Mauritius, Maldives, Seychelles, Vanuatu and the Union of Comoros to the backyard.

The islands absolutely have no pharmaceutical companies to produce the needed medicaments. The medical supplies, equipment and whatever have to be imported from the United States and Canada, Europe, Asian countries such China and India.

Media reports said Mauritius and Seychelles had received a few tons of medicine including thousands of hydroxychloroquine tablets from India to help in their fight against COVID-19. Hydroxychloroquine is an anti-malarial drug being used by some doctors to treat COVID-19 patients, though its efficacy is still being tested. Mauritius and Seychelles are favorite tourist posts, and have long-time close geopolitical relationship with India.

The COVID-19 epidemic is currently forcing governments to cut agricultural expenses and prioritize health-related expenditures. This will heavily affect the economy in the future if the restrictions continue, and further expected to bring additional economic hardship in the nearest future to these poor ocean islands. More than 80% of people in rural areas depend on subsistence farming for survival, restrictions on market activities would limit market access.

Repeat: Most of these people derive their livelihoods from the informal economy, small-scale farming, open market trading, livestock keeping and fishing. Workers in the formal sector have low incomes.

Only a few of them have social security, and some may not even have saving accounts. This means with the lockdown, they are likely and adversely affected.

The above scenarios complicate the situation for poor people, who have little resources or insurance to cushion the social and economic impact of the pandemic. These small islands are, indeed, in a quagmire both, at the state level and the individual. While much depends on post-pandemic internal policies directed at transforming the economy, strategies to expand practical collaboration with foreign partners, the islands still have to keep good diplomatic relationship with the world. Nevertheless, global leaders have called for a comprehensive approach to mobilizing support for least developed countries, and so it is time to show absolute solidarity with Cape Verde, Mauritius, Maldives, Seychelles, Vanuatu and the Union of Comoros.

Air France: to resume flights to Mauritius on 15 June

Source:Defimedia.infoof Mauritius

Air France plans to resume most of its flights to Africa from July 3. However some destinations will be served earlier. This is the case in Mauritius, for which operations could start as early as 15 June. At the Air France level, we are talking about three filghts as week to start with. The same would be true of the French company's services to Madagascar. Ditto for the daily service to Cairo, as well as 5 flights a week to Cotonou and 7 flights to Abidjan. It all depends, of course, on the reopening of the borders. Air France will gradually resume its domestic flights from 11 May. As a reminder, Air France also faces huge financial problems and is working on a vast restructuring plan. At the end of last week, the company received the promise of 7 billion euros. This aid willl be broken down between 4 billion euros of bank loans 90% guaranteed by the French State and 3 billion euros of direct loans from the French State.

No German tourists at least until June 15

The general travel warning by the German government is expected to be extended from May 3 to June 14 according to a report in the German  magazine “Der Spiegel.”

The government has advised against non-essential travel abroad, particularly against travel for tourism purposes due to the global  Coronavirus epidemic.

As things stand, entry into Germany for tourism purposes is strictly prohibited so if this ties to the above travel warning, it just means that border restrictions will stay in place for quite some time yet despite the steps to reopen the economy.

The current warning by the German Foreign Ministry can be seen at  Source:- Juergen T Steinmetz / eTurboNews

Seychelles' health authority defends COVID treatment after criticism from Dutch patients

Source:- Seychelles News Agency (SNA)

Louange said that Robert van der Laarse is still being treated at the Family Hospital at Perseverance.  (Rassin, Vannier, Seychelles News Agency)

Louange told SNA that Seychelles was carrying out tests based on the guidelines of the World Health Organisation and the United States Centre for Disease Control. (Rassin, Vannier, Seychelles News Agency)

Health authorities in Seychelles have refuted allegations made by a Dutch couple about poor hygiene conditions and the wrong use of medications in treatment after they tested positive for COVID-19.  

In an article published in the Dutch-based newspaper De Telegraaf on Wednesday, a Dutch couple in their 50s, Robert and Thea van der Laarse, criticised the health authorities for the treatment and care provided to them.

Thea van der Laarse is quoted as saying, "It's hell here. My husband barely survived." She also raised issues about poor hygiene conditions, "the wrong use of medications" during treatment and "questionable testing."

The chief executive of the Health Care Agency, Danny Louange, said that Robert van der Laarse, who was in a critical state when admitted, was placed in the Intensive Care Unit for specialised treatment. He is still being treated at the Family Hospital at Perseverance.

"We saved his life and he is now stable although he is still testing positive. However, his wife is cured and has been released and is free to leave our facility. But she has opted to stay at our quarantine facility at the Berjaya Beau Vallon Bay hotel," he added.

The couple travelled from the Netherlands to Seychelles on board an Emirates flight via Dubai on March 10 and tested positive for the virus on March 15 and March 17, respectively.

Louange told SNA that Seychelles was carrying out tests based on the guidelines of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United States Centre for Disease Control (CDC).

"Our treatments are WHO accredited and compared to some other countries, we are carrying two tests instead of one to ensure we get the correct diagnosis. These are being done under strict WHO and CDC guidelines and the 11 patients all underwent the same tests," he said.  

Thea van der Laarse was quoted as saying, "Robert is very scared, I have also suffered trauma. Governments and the travel industry have responded too late to the rapidly increasing corona hazard. It is unbelievable that such risks have been taken with tourists. "

The CEO of the Health Care Agency, meanwhile, announced that all foreigners who were treated for COVID-19 in Seychelles will bear the full cost of their treatments.

These include the Dutch couple, a Mauritian and a Ukrainian national, who were among the 11 people who tested positive for COVID-19 between March 14 and April 6.

Foreigners will bear the cost of the treatment given since their admittance as well as the after-care service at the Berjaya Beau Vallon Bay, which has been turned into a quarantine facility for further observation of patients.

"This will include intensive care unit facility if they were admitted in the ICU, as well as time spent at the quarantine facility, meals, internet service, hotel room, staffing," explained Louange.

The Health Care Agency is working out the costs for the services provided and carrying out an in-depth assessment before giving the total cost per patient.

As of April 21, the local health authorities had conducted 984 tests including 294 PCR tests (polymerase chain reaction) and 690 rapid tests.

The country also placed over 200 people in quarantine since the beginning of March.

Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, which offers free primary and specialised medical health care services for locals, has not recorded any deaths related to COVID-19 to date.

Eleven people tested positive for COVID-19 in Seychelles between March 14 and April 6, among which seven were Seychellois.

Six have been cured, three have been discharged while three others are still under observation at the quarantine facility at the Berjaya Beau Vallon Bay hotel.

Editor's Note:- Not often has a topic united the People of Seychelles as the accusations echoed by Thea van der Laarse on the Dutch Newspaper De Telegraaf. As we see on television screen night after night of the thousands dying accross the world Seychelles managed to care for Mr van der Laarse and bring him back to life. He even had use of his own ventilator when his heath was critical. Madame van der Laarse must have her own ulterior reasons for airing this deplorable statement. A simple thankyou would have been more in order. Seychelles suffered with only 11 cases of the COVID-19 virus, no deaths and 6 already cured. The island's Health Professionals deserve a lot more respect.

Closing Notes:

We hope you have enjoyed this Issue #5 of Volume 4 of 2020. For those who missed previous Issues, you may find them on the links listed at the bottom of this newsletter for your convenience. We continue to republish on Linkedln, WhatsApp and Twitter links to International Newswires that have re-posted our previous Issues - they are real friends; support them and work with them.


Google Saint Ange Tourism Report to see the exciting coverage we are getting.

The Saint Ange Tourism Report is a weekly publication that touches on tourism in Seychelles, the greater Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands and the surrounding Indian Ocean Countries as well as global tourism matters as and when necessary. 

The Report goes to a large number of Seychellois locally and also those residing in the four corners of the world, the Business Community in Seychelles, Tour Operators and the Tourism Travel Trade, Airlines and is being reposted by several friendly and important newswires which will ensure a very wide global distribution.

Alain St.Ange Alain St.Ange is remembered right across the world as the successful and dynamic Tourism Minister of the Seychelles who aspired to fly the Seychelles Flag at the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) if the island’s bid for the position of Secretary General had not been abruptly withdrawn as Africa shot itself in the foot yet again. Alain St Ange has been working in the tourism business all his working life and in Government services since 2009. He was appointed as the Director of Marketing for Seychelles by President and the island's then Minister of Tourism James Michel. After one year of service, he was promoted to the position of CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board. In 2012 the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands Regional Organization was formed and St Ange was elected as the First President of that Regional Organisation (Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands - Seychelles, Mauritius, Reunion, Madagascar, Comoros and Mayotte) and he remains the only one who was elected to serve a second back-to-back mandate. Tourism was and remains St.Ange’s life and passion and he steered that industry with style and utmost devotion. It is in the 2012 Seychelles Cabinet of Ministers re-shuffle, that St Ange was appointed as Minister of Tourism and Culture and appointed by President Danny Faure in 2016 as Minister of Tourism. Civil Aviation, Ports & Marine which he resigned on 28 December 2016 in order to pursue a candidacy as Secretary General of the World Tourism Organisation. When his candidature or document of endorsement was withdrawn by his country just a day before the elections in Madrid, Alain St.Ange showed his greatness as a speaker when he addressed the UNWTO gathering with grace, passion, and style. His moving speech was recorded as the one on the best marking speeches at this UN international body. African countries often remember his Uganda address for the East Africa Tourism Platform when he was a guest of honour. As former Tourism Minister, St.Ange was a regular and popular speaker and was often seen addressing forums and conferences on behalf of his country. His ability to speak ‘off the cuff’ was always seen as a rare ability. He often said he speaks from the heart. In Seychelles he is remembered for a marking address at the official opening of the island’s Carnaval International de Victoria when he reiterated the words of John Lennon famous song… ” you may say I am a dreamer, but I am not the only one. One day you will all join us and the world will be better as one”. The world press contingent gathered in Seychelles on the day ran with the words by St.Ange which made headlines everywhere. St.Ange delivered the keynote address for the “Tourism & Business Conference in Canada” as he did across Africa, Europe and Asia. Seychelles is a good example for sustainable tourism. This is therefore not surprising to see Alain St.Ange being sought after as a speaker on the international circuit.  He pushed for ‘tourism for all’ as he campaigned for the Secretary General position of the UNWTO and in his home island he pushed for the islanders to ‘claim back their industry’ as he welcomed hundreds of small establishments in the island’s Accommodation Network. In the years when Alain St.Ange was Minister of Tourism of the Seychelles, the islands were recording 10% -12% growth in visitor arrival numbers month on month, and this even without enough air carriers adequately providing for adequate inbound seats. His appointment in the role of Minister was largely due to the Seychelles private sector business trade who pushed for him to take over the island’s marketing (2008). They then continued to pressure for one of their own to be appointed as CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board (2009). It is the Seychelles private sector trade who saw the successes by St.Ange and pressured then President James Michel to put someone from the business sector in the post of Minister of Tourism to put that Ministry back on track. The late Louis D’Offay, the President of the Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association (SHTA) back then went on record to confirm their Association’s success in having one of their own in the office of Minister. A speaker on tourism matters who continues to be sought after on the international circuit as one reputed to know his subject matter well. He is followed and admired because he continues to speak off the cuff with no written text and this impresses always.  At the UNWTO General Assembly in Chengdu in China, a person who was being sought after for the “Speakers Circuit” for tourism and sustainable development was Alain St.Ange. Alain St.Ange is now officially back in the political arena of his Seychelles Islands with the launching of his “One Seychelles” political party. He is a Seychellois islander he says happily, and guarantees he will work to put the people of the islands first in every decision taken by the islands. He has been a Member of the Seychelles Parliament in the second and also in the third Republic of the Seychelles. He successfully won the La Digue Constituency (1979), the electoral seat held by his late father Karl St.Ange in the years before the 1976 Independence of Seychelles from Great Britain and then won the Bel Air Constituency (2002) taking the President’s own residential district away from the ruling party against all odds. When Alain St.Ange became the Seychelles Minister of Tourism and Culture (2012) it was the era when Seychelles went beyond political party lines to appoint two of its Ministers in their field of expertise, Alain St.Ange for Tourism and World Bank man Pierre Laporte for Finance. This was followed by his appointment as the Seychelles Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports & Marine in 2016. Alain St.Ange is a Tourism Consultant heading the “Saint Ange Consultancy” and is responsible for the widely distributed weekly “Saint Ange Tourism Report”. Alain St.Ange sat on the Board of the UNWTO and is also the founding President of the Seychelles Labor Union (SLU), President of the African Tourism Board (ATB), Deputy Secretary General of FORSEAA (Forum of Small Medium Economic AFRICA ASEAN) based in Jakarta Indonesia, listed as a Consultant for TMN (Travel Marketing Network) in New York USA, Co-Chair of the SUNx (Strong Universal Network) Organisation in London UK, Vice President & Founding Member of ICTP (International Coalition of Tourism Partners), Member Advisory Board of the non-profit organisation “Helping Needy Welfare Society of India”. Alain St.Ange represented eTN Newswire in the Indian Ocean and had his own eTN column (St. Ange Indian Ocean report) for many years until he became a Minister in the Seychelles Government. He is also the Chairman of Trustees of the Arab Tourism News Portal – Al-Masala- Official Tourism Travel Portal News At Middle East Alain St.Ange has been interviewed by some of the biggest television channels and continues to be called by International Press as a source of reference. Anita Mendiratta of the CNN Task Group published on the 11 April 2014: Travel & Tourism leaders close-up, this time a Minister of Tourism and it was Alain St.Ange used for her example. She wrote that Seychelles as an island nation in the Indian Ocean neighbouring Africa’s eastern coastline, while small in geographic size and remotely located, the Seychelles has become a destination (through St.Ange) with a reputation for ‘punching above its weight’. He was on ‘Quest means Business’ with Richard Quest of CNN and Alan Boulton on Sky News during his UNWTO Campaign. He is not shy with a ‘gift of the gab’ making his an easy personality for live interviews. St.Ange has received numerous awards and honours, including the Mahatma Gandhi Honour Award (2014) for his work in strengthening Indo-Seychelles relations, a Plaque of Honour from the House of Lords in London (2015), the Tourism Eminent Achiever Award in Africa (2015) and most recently the Change Maker in Tourism by IIPT (International Institute for Peace through Tourism) at the Tourism Resilience Summit in Johannesburg South Africa (2019). At the AKWAABA 2019 Festival and Conference in Lagos Nigeria he made it to the 'Africa Travel 100 Global Tourism Personalities' list. He has also authored and co-authored several books about Seychelles, including:  Seychelles, What Next? (1991); Seychelles, In Search of Democracy (2005); Seychelles, The Cry of a People (2007); Seychelles, Regatta 2010 (2010); Seychelles, Enters The World of Canival (2011); Seychelles, Remembers Karl St.Ange (2011); Seychelles, The Coco-de-Mer (2012); Seychelles, Festival of the Sea (2012); Seychelles, State House (2013) and Seychelles: Unexpected Treasures (2014). Alain St.Ange is the former Seychelles Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports & Marine and before that the island's Minister for Tourism and Culture. He was First President of the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands and was also the former Seychelles Candidate for the position of Secretary-General of the UNWTO. He is today the Deputy Secretary General of FORSEAA (Forum of Small Medium Economic AFRICA ASEAN) based in Jakarta Indonesia, listed as a Consultant for TMN (Travel Marketing Network) in New York USA, Co-Chair of the SUNx (Strong Universal Network) Organisation in London UK, Vice President & Founding Member of ICTP (International Coalition of Tourism Partners), Member Advisory Board of the non-profit organisation "Helping Needy Welfare Society of India", Appointed on the Steering Committee of the "African Tourism Board" Association. Married to Ginette Michel of Les Mamelles, Mahé and has two daughters, Christine and Michelle.

Ameer Ebrahim  

Environmental Consultant for Saint Ange Consultancy. Current PhD Candidate in Marine Ecology, University of Queensland, Australia. Executive Board Member for the James Michel Foundation

Peter Sinon

Development Consultant for the Saint Ange Consultancy. He is today the Secretary General of the 'One Seychelles' Political Party and of the Seychelles Labor Union (SLU), Chairman of the Board of the Common & Central Cold Storage. Former Seychelles Minister, assuming the portfolio responsibilities for Natural Resources, Industry and Investments.

Dr. Claire Holder

Consultant for the Saint Ange Consultancy. Chief Executive of the Notting Hill Carnival Roadshow Company. Barrister at law.

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