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Seychelles says it 'welcomes Russians with open arms' even as island nation condemns war in Ukraine

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Russia was Seychelles' top market by visitor number in 2021.
  • The president of the Seychelles said the island nation "welcomes Russians with open arms."
  • The country has also condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
  • Tourism is a key pillar of Seychelles' economy and Russia was the island nation's top market in 2021.
  • For more stories visit Business Insider.

Beach-holiday destination Seychelles said it welcomes Russian visitors, Bloomberg reported. That's even though the island nation has condemned the war in Ukraine.

"Seychelles is not at war with Russia. At least, we are not at war with the Russian people," President Wavel Ramkalawan told Bloomberg in an interview on Thursday. "Seychelles is a tourist destination. Anybody is free to come in." 

Ramkalawan told the media outlet the country "welcomes Russians with open arms," even though it voted in favor of a United Nations resolution on March 2 condemning the invasion of Ukraine.

Tourism is a key pillar of Seychelles' economy, accounting for about 70% of the country's GDP, according to its government.

Russia is the top tourism market for Seychelles: In 2021, the 115-island archipelago welcomed about 32,000 Russian tourists, according to official data from the country's statistics agency. Some 13,000 Russian tourists have visited Seychelles so far this year — up three times from a year ago, according to the data.

The Indian Ocean island reopened its borders in March 2021 after imposing entry restrictions earlier in the pandemic. It received more than 110,000 international tourists in the first four months of 2022 — about 80% of what it received over the same period in 2019.



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