National Parks and Gardens are bouncing back from the Covid-19 pandemic |10 October 2022
The Covid-19 pandemic had a dramatic effect on the number of visitors to the Seychelles Parks and Gardens Authority’s (SPGA) paying sites, as well as other tourism related businesses across the country. In 2020 (the year worst affected by the pandemic), an astounding 70% drop in visitor numbers to Seychelles was recorded. The SPGA managed sites (the five marine parks, Veuve Reserve and Copolia Trail) experienced an average of 73% decrease in visitors. Similarly to the country, tourism remains the main source of revenue financing the conservation of the Seychelles’ Parks and Gardens. Over three quarters of revenue earned is derived from entrance fees paid by tourists above 12 years of age.
In 2020, the SPGA managed sites most affected were, Ile Cocos, Baie Ternay and Port Launay marine parks, with over 80% decrease. Curieuse Marine Park experienced a 77% decrease, whilst the Veuve Reserve and Ste Anne Marine Park were the least affected sites with 56.5 % decrease, resulting in the two sites having better performed than the country in general at that time. In 2021, visitor arrivals to Seychelles increased by 37% in contrast to the previous year, resulting in a 58% increase in visitors to the SPGA managed sites; a good turnaround from the disappointing 2020 figures. For the first half of 2022, the figures are better than that recorded within the same timeframe in 2021, reinforcing that the country as a whole is recuperating from the pandemic.
The Department of Tourism initially forecasted that visitor numbers to the country for 2022 would stand around 258,000 visitors, a figure which they have now increased to 300,000. Although the projection for 2022 will not surpass the high 384,204 visitors obtained in 2019, it is evident that the country will surely return to the pre-pandemic level soon. As visitation to the parks and gardens return to normal, this resonates into financial stability for SPGA, the newly created entity managing the highest number of protected areas in Seychelles. Such status will ensure that the parks and gardens are safeguarded for the benefit of all.