Alasdair Maclean and Gill Maclean feel a little guilty for spending much of the last year living happily on an idyllic tropical island that was unaffected by Covid-19.

They had traveled around the globe before the outbreak of the pandemic.

Maclean says, “We had been scheduled to leave 10 days earlier and instead we spent just over eighteen months.”

He also said that his wife and he were wary of telling their friends in the UK about their success. He said, “How can you let them know you have a great time and are going to the restaurants freely, partying while they lock you down?”

St Helena lies approximately 1,200 mi (2,800 km) west the African country of Angola and 2,500 miles east Brazil. The population is around 4,500 and it covers 47 sq miles (12 km). This is the equivalent land mass to Jersey in the Channel Islands.

Since March 2020, St Helena has been a place of fame for not having reported any cases of coronavirus.

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The UK introduced Covid’s traffic light system (in May) for countries and territories that could be visited. St Helena was therefore always on the green list. This means that you don’t have quarantine to return home.

It hopes this spotlight encourages more visitors to its island.

Matthew Joshua, head of visitors information services at St Helena Government, said that it appears this is already the case. We are seeing an increase in enquiries. St Helena has been put on the map by this.

What is the best way to get from St Helena to St Helena? Before 2016, the only route to St Helena was via sea.

It was then unusable for its first year due to high winds that blew over the runway approach. This led to the facility, which cost the UK government £285m, being dubbed “the world’s most useless” airport.

However, it was ultimately approved as safe for use after several trial flights. Commercial flights started in October 2017.

Joshua believes the media was unfairly reporting on this issue. “We don’t get tropical storms the way you have in the Caribbean but we do get wind.”

St Helena used to be served weekly by flights between Johannesburg and Cape Town, before the pandemic. These routes have been canceled due to South Africa’s coronavirus restrictions.

St Helena can be served instead by Titan Airways charter flights, which fly every three weeks between London Stansted Airport and St Helena.

St Helena, which is home to Napoleon Bonaparte’s French military and political leader Napoleon Bonaparte and his death in 1821, is well-known.

The house that he lived on the island’s steep, rocky sides is open to visitors. It now houses a museum. You can also enjoy diving, snorkeling, hiking and colonial-era streets in Jamestown. There are many other attractions, including sea fishing and diving.

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In 2019, St Helena received 5,135 overnight guests, as well as occasional day-visits by cruise ships. The number of overnight visitors to St Helena fell to 2,071 by 2020. This was mainly before March’s end. It then dropped to 696 between January and July.

Visitors must quarantine themselves for 10 days.

There are only two hotels on the island, and they remain closed. Sasha Ella (communications manager, Mantis St Helena Hotel), says times have been difficult, and will return to normal once the coronavirus is gone.

She says, “It’s our belief that if access to and frequency of flights to the island and relaxation to quarantine restrictions take place, then only then will we see a positive impact on the island.”

A number of private guest houses are available in St Helena.

South Georgia, another remote British island, was Covid-19-free and permanently placed on the green list by the UK. It’s located 800 miles to the east of Falkland Islands and covers an area of 1,362 sq. miles (3.528 sq. km).

The island is only accessible via sea and has no permanent population. Two government officials are located on the island, along with two or three dozen people from the British Antarctic Survey.

South Georgia has been waiting since the pandemic for tourists, just like St Helena. It was visited regularly by tourists who were traveling to Antarctica on cruise ships.

The site had 12,568 visitors during the summer of 2020 (which is the UK’s summer), but that number fell to only two visitors in 2020/21.

“In a normal year, tourism accounts for around 20% of our income,” says Ross James, visitor management & bio-security officer for the Government of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands.

Visitors are not allowed to stay overnight on the island. Instead, they must only spend a couple of hours and follow specific rules to preserve their natural environment.

Before they arrive, people should also watch the video guide for the region, which is presented by David Attenborough.

All South Georgia cruise operators that make trips to South Georgia have joined the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators. Amanda Lynnes, the organisation’s director of environment & science coordination, has this advice for visitors: “Use your experience to be an ambassador for South Georgia’s continued protection.”

Visitors to South Georgia can see dramatic, snow-covered mountains amid the cold. Even in summer it is difficult to reach 6C.

St Helena however enjoys 34C highs. However, Mr Maclean insists that it’s more than the lovely weather. Maclean says St Helena is “up there as one the friendliest places in the world.”

Similar Topics

  • Tourism
  • Coronavirus pandemic


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