Home Travel Island Paradises Open Doors to Travellers: Visa-Free Access Boosts Tourism

Island Paradises Open Doors to Travellers: Visa-Free Access Boosts Tourism

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The idyllic islands of Maldives and Seychelles have implemented visa-free policies, inviting leisure travellers, honeymooners, and digital nomads to explore their scenic beauty with minimal entry requirements. These policies underscore the importance of tourism to their economies, with the Maldives deriving 30% and Seychelles 31% of their GDP from this sector.

Travellers to the Maldives need only a valid passport, a return or onward travel ticket, and proof of sufficient funds. In 2023, the Maldives experienced a revenue boost from increased goods and services tax (GST) rates. Despite this, the fiscal deficit is projected to reach 13.4% of GDP, with public debt climbing to 118.7% of GDP. The current account deficit widened to 22.8% of GDP, driven by higher import costs and robust tourism. Real GDP growth for 2023 is estimated at 4.4%, with a projected increase to 5.2% in 2024, bolstered by airport and hotel expansions.

Tourism figures for the Maldives reveal that China leads in visitor numbers, followed by Russia, the UK, Italy, Germany, and India. As of May 6, 2024, the Maldives welcomed over 500,000 tourists, with a significant influx from China. The Maldives set a record in 2023 with over 1.8 million tourist arrivals. Top destinations include Soneva Jani, Vakkaru, Hurawalhi Ocean Villa, You and Me, Shangri-La, Sea of Stars, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, and Kudadoo Maldives Private Island. Male Velana International Airport, located on Hulhule Island in the North Male Atoll, is the primary entry point for international travellers.

Seychelles Sees Steady Growth Amid Tourism Sector Expansion

Seychelles offers unrestricted visa-free entry, fostering a thriving tourism industry. In the first three quarters of 2023, the economy grew by 1.9% year-over-year, with Fitch predicting a 2.5% growth for the year and an average of 4% annually in 2024-25. This growth is attributed to a stable tourism sector and expansions in information and communication technology. Despite fewer arrivals than the Maldives, Seychelles welcomed 384,204 visitors in 2023, as reported by the National Bureau of Statistics Seychelles.

The Seychelles International Airport, the main hub for Air Seychelles, supports both regional and long-haul flights, maintaining Seychelles’ status as a prime international destination. Emirates, Etihad Airways, and Qatar Airways enhance global connectivity. In 2023, Germany, France, and Russia were the top sources of tourists. The Ministry of Tourism anticipates a 5% increase in arrivals by the end of 2024, aiming to diversify and strengthen the sector. Sustainable tourism remains a priority, preserving Seychelles’ natural and cultural heritage. Prominent hotels include Raffles Seychelles, The Hilton Northolme Resort and Spa, Kempinski Seychelles Resort, and Constance Ephalia Mahe Seychelles.

In mid-2024, the Maldives reported approximately 936,300 visitors, while Seychelles saw a 3% increase in tourists by the 23rd week of 2024, continuing a positive growth trend from 2023.

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