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Mauritius Tourism Industry under scrutiny from all corners – how a statement can hurt an industry

February 5, 2014 Destination Global No Comments Email Email

Seychelles-TravelOne of the most read newspapers of Mauritius started the week with a article on tourism entitled “Tourism: Mauritius is overtaken by the region”.

The very respected Karen Walter of the newspaper presented for all to see the state of affairs of the Mauritian Tourism Industry. This article comes as the Ministry of Tourism is getting ready, we are told from the Mauritius Hotel and Tourism enterprises, to seek the Government’s approval to move the island out of the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands. Will that also mean that the Indian Ocean Commission (COI) and the Indian Ocean Rim )(IOR) will be asked to move their Headquarters out of Mauritius a Hotel General Manager asked in disgust. “We have lost it completely. We built an airport to become the hub of the Indian Ocean, then we do not want to work with the Indian Ocean” another small Mauritian Hotel Owner said. Both the COI and IOR are regional organisations where the island’s Anil Gayan, their Minister for Foreign Affairs speaks with a loud voice. Another Tourism Industry professional of Mauritius asked what Regional Cooperation can Mauritius speak about when Mootoosamy of the MTPA is pushing for isolation.

The L’Express Newspaper stated that now the Russian Media are set for the first time to cover the Carnival International de Victoria that will be taking place in Seychelles this coming April. This, as Mauritius still cannot decide if it is to be present at this regional event with all the other islands of the region or not. But is was Mauritius that was in the leadership under a former Minister of Tourism to form the Vanilla Islands to reposition the Indian Ocean as a tourism destination. L’Express Newspaper of Mauritius says that this was the aim of the Vanilla Islands and today Countries such as Madagascar, South Africa and Sri Lanka amongst others are looking at benefiting form the spirit of togetherness of the region, Mauritius is playing the lone ranger all alone, and their participation at the Carnaval International de Victoria in the Seychelles this year still remains undecided.

La Reunion, Mayotte, Madagascar…are all Vanilla Island members wanting to join with the Seychelles and South Africa to organise the next Carnaval International de Victoria that is set for the month of April. Even Sri Lanka is showing interest to be associated with this new drive in the Indian Ocean. This is what Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles Minister for Tourism and Culture says. But an unanswered question remains, Mauritius that has been noticeably absent from past events of the Vanilla Islands, will they yet again be marked as absent at this coming event in Seychelles. L’Express Newspaper of Mauritius says that it is exactly this absence by Mauritius at events aimed at consolidation regional tourism that is so much regretted by Alain St.Ange, who is also the President of the Vanilla Islands. Karen Walter of the L’Express Newspaper confirms that she interviewed Minister St.Ange of the Seychelles by telephone on Wednesday 29th January where he said that the Vanilla Islands Organisation aims to reposition the Indian Ocean Region as a key tourism destination. The Seychelles Minister also said that this cannot be achieved without unity and that Mauritius needed to be more involved in regional events. “If we are not working together as a united group our region will not be what it could succeed to be and it is our people from our respective islands who suffer as a result. Mauritius tourism must decide what it wants for itself and for the people of Mauritius” the Minister is quotes as having said.

Nando Bodha, the former Minister responsible for Tourism of Mauritius agrees with the Seychelles Minister. Former Minister Bodha was one of those who launched the Vanilla Islands concept in 2010. “Mauritius is missing out on a rare opportunity” former Minister Bodha of Mauritius said. It is reported in the L’Express Newspaper that former Minister Bodha of Mauritius went on to say that Mauritius as a country had lost “the leadership and the motivation it used to enjoy to make the Indian Ocean the centre for tourism”.

Karl Braunecker, the Managing Director of Connections, a Destination Management Company of Mauritius takes, according to L’Express Newspaper a different twist to the Mauritius regional saga. Even-though he says that he remains convinced that Mauritius must be present at the carnival in Seychelles as this would bring benefits for Mauritius. Mr Braunecker said that it was not a world event that will make the major difference in the island’s records “I am supporting a Vanilla Islands Carnival on a regional basis that is held each year in a different islands” he said.

‘Mauritius is well positioned to become the aviation hub of the region. But we need to double our efforts in the promotion of twin destinations (Africa-Mauritius) on the Asia and Australia markets’ Mr Braunecker said. This approach is supported by Alain St.Ange “Twin centre destinations remains a formula that works and attracts the Japanese, Chinese and South Americans. But for now the Seychelles strategy is to work to remain visible. This is the reason why the Seychellois hoteliers recorded a Bumper Year in 2013 with 230272 arrivals and USD 343,3 millions. An increase of 11% over 2012” Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles Minister said.

Karen Walter of the l’Express Newspaper said that they had tried in vain to get a reaction from Minister Michael Sik Yuen, the Minister of Tourism of Mauritius.

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