The projections for Seychelles’ 2010 arrival numbers are still on course, in spite of the setback during the ash crisis, which also affected the Seychelles. In particular, the markets outside Europe seem to be doing exceedingly well, as figures availed to this correspondent from the Seychelles Tourist Board show: Chinese visitor numbers, compared to a year ago, are up by 35 percent; La Reunion – a market courted by the Seychelles Tourism Board (STB) – is up by 40 percent; South Africa responded to the added flights offered by Air Seychelles to Cape Town with a 35 percent arrival increase; East African arrivals rose by 26 percent, giving rise to hope for a third flight by Kenya Airways soon coming into play; and leader of the, UAE, where Emirates has added more flights, leading to an increase of a staggering 136 percent in arrival numbers compared to a year ago.
In a related development, it was also confirmed that Qatar Airways will change aircraft equipment from mid-2010 onwards, replacing their single aisle A319 with A330 wide-body equipment. This move is expected to add a further 300 seats on the route per week, supporting the growing appeal the Seychelles has across the Gulf countries and across the Qatar Airways network, where many passengers now connect in Doha en route to Mahe. Cargo shipments will also benefit as the A330 can carry palletized cargo, unlike the smaller Airbus presently used on the route.