Photograph — Jet Photos

A 45-year-old French tourist by the name Victoria was seriously injured in a shark attack while swimming at night on Sunday, 5th January 2020 in Seychelles, a popular tourist destination in the Indian Ocean off East Africa. The attack happened during Seychelles’ high tourist season at Amitié Beach in Praslin, the second-largest island in the archipelago famed for its pristine beaches, secluded islands. 

The French Ambassador, Dominique Mas, told the Seychelles news agency the woman was seriously injured on one arm and was taken to a hospital where she underwent an operation and has been stabilized.

Shark attacks are very rare in Seychelles. However, the country’s Maritime Safety Administration has placed a ban on the area and also advised tourists to avoid swimming there as officials say that Praslin’s relatively cool waters could attract sharks during breeding.

Seychelles as a very small open economy dependent on tourism remains vulnerable to staggering tourists supply due to different factors.  In this case, the security threat for tourists would result in an economic downturn as tourists are less likely to visit insecure areas. Hence, the recent event could cause a decline in activities and revenue for the tourism sector in a certain period of time.

Although such shark attack incidents are rare in Seychelles, this could still have some effect on the country’s tourism as her growth has been led by the tourist sector, which directly employs about 26 percent of the labor force and directly and indirectly accounts for more than 55 percent of GDP.

But looking at the aftermath of two horrific shark attacks where two tourists were killed in August 2011, there was no negative effect on tourism in Seychelles despite scary stories in British tabloids. Conversely, that same month experienced a 32 percent increase in tourism numbers as opposed to the previous year. Eighteen thousand tourists visited Seychelles the same month showing almost a 40 percent increase in the average number of visitors to Seychelles in August since 2006. 

Given the economic outcome of the 2011 shark attack, Seychelles may still stand a chance to remain as a leading tourist location with no economic consequences of the shark attack on the state’s tourism sector.

Nevertheless, it is still very pertinent that the security of tourists is improved. Because despite the positive economic outcome of the 2011 attacks on Seychelles tourism revenue, security issues may still arise causing unexpected challenges if not addressed and prevented.

By Synka JyteDavies

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