The Seychelles is taking the bold step of banning all cruise ship tourism through the end of 2021 as a measure to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus.
The East Africa island nation’s largest newspaper, the Seychelles Nation, reports that Didier Dogley, the country’s Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine, made the decision.
According to the World Bank, tourism is the second biggest industry in the Seychelles after commercial fishing.
In 2013, the Seychelles joined with several other Indian Ocean islands, including Mauritius, Réunion and Madagascar, to form the Vanilla Islands Tourism Organization to encourage travel in the region and combine their marketing and publicity efforts.
The Seychelles is a popular destination for celebrities, who have enjoyed the country’s private villas and bright-blue waters over the years.
Prince William and Kate Middleton honeymooned there after their wedding in 2011, as did George and Amal Clooney in 2014.
It’s unclear whether the Seychelles will continue to allow travelers to come into the country by air.
However, losing cruise ships likely means the economy will take a huge hit. Dogley has announced some benefits to help hotels, resorts, tour operators and other businesses who will be affected by the decision, including soft loans and government guarantees.
Still, travelers who had hoped to escape to the islands in 2020 or 2021 will likely have other options for their vacations.
The European Union has already started talking about when to open internal borders, and some countries – including Greece and Italy – have already announced plans to restart tourism for the summer 2020 season.
Another possible model is “travel bubbles,” where neighboring countries will permit tourism between their nations while ramping up their number of flights and hotel rooms.
The Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania now have one in place, with Australia and New Zealand discussing plans to establish another.