The Reopening of Mauritius to Tourists

We have read and heard a series of interventions and comments in the written and spoken press of a number of experts in the field of local tourism and the reason for the forced or possible opening of our borders. Uncertainty remains, with the current economic situation likely to last longer. We have arrived at a point where it is absolutely necessary to cross the wall of emotion and fear, how understandable nevertheless. You have to take the measure of trust and responsibility and hear the ardent wish of the industry.

Association Friends in Tourism, (FIT), asks to go back to work and thus the peace found. Despite the steadfast financial support of our government, these months of closure, these months of misfortune are nothing but a heartbreak, sometimes even humiliation. Within our association, we ask that we rebuild our industry together, taking all the necessary health precautions but also restore our international image. It will also be necessary to have the audacity to create a code of conduct for the thousands of tourists who we will visit post Covid-19. Respect for the environment, culture, local customs and practices are duties that we are entitled to demand from those who visit us.

Sanitary precautions are known and unanimously accepted today except, the confinement or the mandatory imprisonment of our visitors. We would like to have at least a preliminary timetable. We understand that hasty decisions and the pride that leads to easy opinions should be avoided at all costs. Our primary concern remains the security of the population. Also, ensure the safety and security of tourists.

In addition, all the members of the FIT association are committed to implementing the health protocols required to give concrete expression to our desire to collaborate fully with the Ministry of Health and the "quality" committee of our association, endowed with recognized skills. A major project is underway. The difficult days we are living have brought us closer. We know how far we are in a sensitive sector, hence the need for us to redouble our efforts.

Ensuring the sustainability of this industry implies rigorous actions that take into consideration its needs, requirements and shortcomings. We are waiting to read the guidelines of the MTPA and the Tourism Authority for the revival of the tourism industry. We understand that the ambition is to work towards a different tourism geared towards ecology. Therefore, the decision to create a new 'branding' or brand for the destination as soon as possible. This one needs a strong and distinctive mark to differentiate itself from another of the same nature, the islands.

Let us express our opinion. Mauritius welcomes more than 1.3m of tourists, known mainly for our unmissable paradise image, our legendary hospitality, exceptional accommodation, the sea, the beach and the sun. The operators play a major role in the development of the image since they greatly contribute to defining the common and representative values of the inhabitants of the country. Ecology is fashionable but shouldn't be just literature.

Our ecological approach must be visible and which returns a coherent image of the destination towards a more equitable tourism, for a national program of democratization aiming the participation of all the communities at all levels. All local and international actors should therefore adhere to this new image of community tourism, this new identification with certain overriding values and come together to promote the brand. This project will be viable on one condition that if the entire population is involved in joining the new brand and graciously agrees to convey it here and elsewhere so that the message becomes more and more strong, clear and specific. There must not be a gap between a perceived image and reality.

The association with Liverpool costs us a small fortune. Will it be the catalyst for attractiveness for our Island? We'll see. For the moment, it is worrying to note that the destination is not programmed in any traditional brochure of tour operators. As a result, we have digital communication, and be innovative, original and creative in the service of a real digital strategy. Touristonauts spend an enormous amount of time on the web before making a decision for their vacation. Tourism marketing must respond to post Covid-19 changes, competitive and strategic surveillance. Having a sovereign national airline as the engine of development is more than time.

Our country has more than one feather in its straw hats. Mauritius is a real holiday destination. Its inhabitants are at the heart of the tourism industry. Our concerns for health and safety, social engagement and sustainable tourism are more than a sine-qua non condition for the future landscape of the travel industry. In the meantime, clean up the island, plant more flowers everywhere in public places, show your determination to end poverty, protect our destination, reduce its environmental footprint and make sure everyone enjoys peace and prosperity.

 

Christian Lefèvre

Managing Director – Coquille Bonheur

President – Friends in Tourism (FIT)

12 Juillet 2020