Mauritius is setting its sights on tourism growth of 5% in 2019 off the back of continued interest in the island, hosting of the regional Island Games, significant boost in airlift and an expansion in the year-round appeal of the destination.
“We have around 1.4 million visitors now, and are very proud that 40% are repeat guests. A sustainable approach to tourism is key for us,” said Raj Bhujohory, chairman of Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority, who said Mauritius had experienced an increase of 2% year-on-year to the end of September.
“We still see the potential for growth in Europe, where the top markets for the last five years have been France, UK, Germany and Italy,” said Bhujohory. “European visitors are of course especially welcome, as they spend more and stay longer.”
Alitalia re-launched flights to Mauritius on October 26, with a thrice-weekly service from Rome for winter. Bhujohory said this came off the back of other new flights, such as Saudi Arabian Airlines and KLM-Air Mauritius services launched last year.
“We’ve also seen more flights from Germany which is really helping secure that as a year-round market,” said Bhujohory.
The Indian Ocean Island Games – a multi-sport event held every four years among athletes from Indian Ocean island nations – will take place in Mauritius from July 19-28.
Bhujohory added that the MTPA was also keen to continue promoting tourism initiatives that integrated locals and tourists more.
“You are starting to see people really explore more of the other side of the island away from the beach, and locals are entering into more and more tourism enterprises, such as home cooking lessons and dining,” he said.
Bhujohory also welcomed a “new breed” of hotels that focus on more interaction with locals and environmental initiatives, such as Salt by Lux Resorts and C Resorts by Constance.
“We’ve had lots of hotel makeovers of late which is great for offering refreshed product, and we are also seeing these hotels open in response to travellers’ desire to be more conscientious and have a good impact on the destination,” said Bhujohory.
Mauritius is also in the throes of developing a new $560 million light rail system, which is expected to help cut traffic jams on the island when it connects a 16-mile route from Curepipe in central Mauritius to the capital Port Louis with 19 stations, starting from September 2019.
Bhujohory also highlighted how people could soon be seeing more of Mauritius on the big screen, thanks to its increasing role as a film location.
Serenity, a thriller starring Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway and set for release in January, was partly made in Mauritius.