China is currently one of the fastest growing visitor source markets for the Seychelles tourism industry. The size of the market has tripled since the beginning of 2014, and it is forecasted to continue to grow strongly for the remainder of the decade. With the outbreak of the Ebola epidemic in March 2014 in Guinea then spreading across land borders to Sierra Leone and other West African Countries, reaching as far in Europe and America, Ebola fears is crippling Africa as a tourism destination and keeping tourists away. Geographically Seychelles is an African Country, but located in the Indian Ocean. The perception for potential Chinese travelers is that Seychelles is just part of a small Africa where the Ebola epidemic is not showing signs of slowing down. Ironically it is not the epidemic of Ebola which is the problem, it is a problem of geography that is today impacting on the African tourism industry. Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles Minister responsible for Tourism and Culture and Sherin Naiken, the Chief Executive Officer of the Seychelles Tourism Board, will lead a tourism delegation on a working visit to China this weekend. The private sector interested in the Chinese tourism market will be joining the delegation traveling to China between from the 08th to the 14th November to help better situate Seychelles in regards to the Ebola crisis.
‘’Seychelles has lost several tourists groups from China since the Ebola epidemic has been in the news, and yet Seychelles is sitting in the middle of Indian Ocean, 1000 miles off the East Coast of Africa far far away from the affected countries in West Africa’’ said Minister St.Ange.
Although there has not been a single case of Ebola reported in Seychelles, fear of Ebola and misconceptions of Chinese and world travelers on the geographical location of Seychelles is hurting the destination with cancellation of bookings. Minister St.Ange said the pre-conceived perception Africa is ‘but a village’’ is hurting Africa’s tourism Industry.
‘’Since the outbreak of the Ebola Epidemic in Africa many tourism destinations have been feeling the adverse effects of cancellations because of the pre-conceived notion that ‘Africa is but a village’. Today, the economy of many African States is suffering. The time is right to set the record straight’’ added Minister St.Ange.
Minister St.Ange said that during this official working trip to China his message will be clear to key to Chinese tour operators and Press:- ‘’ Africa is a continent with 54 countries. We are not provinces and Villages’’ the Minister said. Since the outbreak of Ebola in some of the Western African countries, the Seychelles Ministry of Health has been proactive and are represented at the International Airport to screen every arrivals just as a protection. Although Seychelles has a visa free entry for visitors, the Ministry of Health has confirmed that visa requirements are being introduced for Citizens from those West African countries where Ebola is prevalent and this applies to anyone who has stopped in a country affected by the Ebola Epidemic.