Tourism will rebound in Mauritius. How and in what form? It's hard to say, even if we can more and more guess the outline of an industry which, due to the pandemic, has accelerated its transformation. “Île Maurice Tourisme” wanted to feel the pulse of those who make tourism in Mauritius. Today we welcome Christian Lefèvre, the Managing Director of “Coquille Bonheur”, a renowned boutique-tour operator. We met Christian on the eve of his 60th birthday this week and he gives us his impressions, still as clear-cut and well-founded, in the form of a carte blanche. With a message of hope well anchored in the body, Christian Lefèvre invites the industry to reset itself once and for all.

"To enrich my professional training, I had opted for an MBA specializing in tourism in Leicester. We were often given the opportunity, among travel company executives, to discuss our passion, Tourism, at the The very place where tourism began with Thomas Cook Cook's idea of offering excursions came to him while walking from Market Harborough to Leicester to attend a meeting of the 'Temperance Society'.

The reputation of Mauritius is still intact. It is obvious that the other islands in the region have taken a few advances on us, but I have no doubt that our Island, including Rodrigues, will once again welcome a significant number of visitors. We live on a wonderful island full of charm and beauty. The diversity of our nation unites us in meaningful ways, a land of ethnicity and plurality, engaging in rewarding community activities, many authentic nature adventures, in the very heart of the island, each exclusive and tailored. Mauritius, the island of gentleness and smiles, is a true holiday destination known for its legendary hospitality and everything that makes it unique.

Tourism has been at a standstill for more than a year and we, the players in the sector, as we are kindly and often called, have been in indefinite hibernation. Now and suddenly that we have understood that we will have to live with the virus, the race for vaccines is on to catch up and catch up. Despite all this, the whole sector has to work behind gates and curtains to finally be ready for the start of the school year announced for soon. The health protocols have been reviewed, the virtual promotion by teleconference has not stopped, finally we have not been idle. The private sector as usual is there despite the economic downturn.

We are on the eve of border openings and we should think of a new modus operandi adapted to tomorrow's travel. My experiences in managing hotels in the islands, or lodges in Africa, safaris or as a simple Receptive force me to think without hesitation that we should press the reset button once and for all.

What does it consist of ?

First, the tourism recovery plan should be based on the strictest and most important application of health protocols for the continued protection of our citizens and tourists.

To the social, financial and economic support of the government.

Promotion with effective international promotion campaigns to awaken and stimulate demand as quickly as possible and regain confidence. Tourists will need reassurance about travel health safety, hygiene, testing and procedures.

Wealth sharing. A real and fair democratization of this sector.

No to all inclusive, all inclusive. Let our much-desired tourists, rare commodities at the moment, decide on their choice, encourage them to go out to help our craftsmen, our locals simply, towards the most unprecedented encounters with the inhabitants. The All-Inclusive is a disaster not only for DMCs, but also for restaurants, taxis, day trippers and shops.

Let's go back to the source, give our industry its letter of nobility. Demonstrate even more our legendary hospitality. Let's not lose our smile and our know-how. The real challenge is not to do like everyone else.

Stop singing prose, verse and refrains about the concept of sustainability. Bring ideas to life. Let it come from our leaders and rulers. An example for a Receptive would have been to see our leaders and civil servants opt for hybrid or electric cars given the benefit of existing duty free for these executives. Give receptives affordable taxes for the purchase of these vehicles as well. It would have been a start with a bang. I am a firm believer that the future of the tourism industry lies in corporate ecological and environmental awareness going beyond bottom line and integrating sustainability principles into their business.

We will soon have the pleasure of welcoming international journalists, influencers, tour operators to our home, what are we waiting for to rethink the beauty of our Island, to beautify our roads and places. Nature is at the center of all development. We missed the mark to clean our beaches, places and beautify. Mauritius has lost much of its fundamental heritage.

The challenge is there, and this, concerning road traffic, new technologies, the development of the community tourist offer, the objectives of development of sustainable growth, the development of tourist sites, the future of work in this sector. , improving the visibility and competitiveness of the destination, promoting the destination, security, safety and health, public-private partnerships on the expectations of each other.

A message to young people and students in the field of tourism, we are going through a difficult period due to COVID-19. One of the hardest hit industries is definitely the travel and tourism industry. Millions of people around the world have been furloughed or laid off. However, the incredible resilience and courage displayed in the tourist community has been AMAZING! My passion for tourism started 40 years ago. I am more than convinced that our sector will soon be relaunched and will regain its former glory once again. Continue your studies and get ready to fill your eyes with stars as they say and your hearts with the beautiful emotions to come."

Christian Lefèvre, Managing Director, Coquille Bonheur

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