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Fri 24 Jul 2015 01:15 AM

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Etihad-backed Air Seychelles hails UAE visa waiver

Airline says introduction of new visa waiver will boost number of tourists to the country

Etihad-backed Air Seychelles hails UAE visa waiver

Air Seychelles has welcomed the introduction of a visa waiver for Seychellois passport holders travelling to the UAE, effective from last week.

The carrier, in which Abu Dhabi carrier Etihad holds a 40 percent stake, said the development will allow Seychellois to visit the UAE for a period of up to 90 days, without applying for a visa before travelling. A visa will be granted free of charge on arrival.

Joël Morgan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Transport and chairman of Air Seychelles, said: "This visa waiver simplifies travel to the UAE for Seychellois passport holders and brings our two countries, which have longstanding bilateral relations, closer together.

"It signals a clear intent to build on our existing relationship and symbolises the deep level of trust between Seychelles and the UAE, our largest outbound travel destination and the country with most air connections to our archipelago.

"This visa waiver is reciprocated through Seychelles' policy of granting all foreign visitors a visa on arrival, including UAE nationals, which has contributed to the UAE becoming our fourth-largest inbound tourism market.

The combined number of return flights operated by Air Seychelles and Etihad Airways between Seychelles and Abu Dhabi increased to 14 per week this month.

The flights are operated on an Airbus A320 aircraft in a two-class configuration, with 16 Business Class and 120 Economy Class seats, offering more than 3,800 seats on the route each week.

Roy Kinnear, CEO of Air Seychelles, said: "This exciting development makes travel to the UAE more affordable and convenient for Seychellois, who no longer need to pay or wait for a visa to be processed.

"The UAE is a popular holiday and business destination for Seychellois, in particular for its shopping opportunities. In the first half of 2015, a total of 4,425 Seychellois travelled to the UAE, representing a significant 26 percent of all departures.

"In turn, some 8,646 Emirati nationals have visited Seychelles in the first half this year. In response to such strong travel demand, in both directions, we have worked with Etihad Airways to enhance our combined schedules and together offer double-daily flights between Seychelles and the UAE.

"This visa waiver also makes it convenient for our guests to add a stopover in Abu Dhabi to their travel plans; for instance, combining a flight with Air Seychelles to Mumbai and returning on a codeshare flight on Etihad Airways via Abu Dhabi."

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