Don’t expect to cruise to the Seychelles anytime soon.
The sun-kissed beach destination in the Indian Ocean has banned cruise ships from visiting until 2022, citing fears of another wave of coronavirus cases, according to the Seychelles Nation, the archipelago’s main newspaper.
The news outlet says the Seychelles minister for tourism, Didier Dogley, announced the ban this week as part of measures to prevent or minimize a second wave of COVID-19 cases.
The Seychelles has fared well so far during the global outbreak of the new coronavirus, with an initial wave of just 11 cases and no deaths. The country moved fast to ban cruise ship arrivals and shut its international airport after the first cases were discovered in mid-March. The airport remains closed with a reopening date currently set for June 1.
The cruise ship ban will block ships from stopping at Port Victoria, the gateway for arriving cruise vessels. A spokesperson for the Seychelles tourism minister did not immediately respond to questions about the ban from TPG.
The Seychelles is far from the biggest cruise ship destination, of course. Some of the biggest cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises don’t have a single vessel that visits it regularly — if ever. But it’s been growing as a port of call for cruise ships on long-distance voyages between Europe and Asia, as well as sailings focused on Indian Ocean destinations.
This year alone, nearly a dozen cruise lines including Oceania Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, Holland America, Seabourn and Costa Cruises were scheduled to send vessels to the destination. The typical Seychelles stopover for a cruise ship lasts two or three days.
Often, a visit to the Seychelles is paired with a stopover in the Maldives or a visit to Sri Lanka.
The Seychelles’s cruise ban is the longest we’ve seen so far from a destination since the coronavirus outbreak began. But it’s not the only extended ban to be announced in recent days. The tourism minister of the Cayman Islands said last week the destination would remain closed to cruise ships through at least September, and perhaps far longer.
“I don’t think that we’re going to see cruise vessels back in Grand Cayman [in the] second [quarter], third quarter or fourth quarter, to be quite honest,” tourism minister Moses Kirkconnell told the Cayman Compass.
Related: A country-by-country guide to when destinations will reopen to tourists
Argentina also has effectively shut down visitation from foreigners until at least September by restricting international airline flights to the country through Sept. 1. Australian leaders have discussed some sort of travel ban in and out of the country as far out as 2021.
Jim Hepple is an Assistant Professor at the University of Aruba and is Managing Director of Tourism Analytics.