The Tourism Industry is facing serious difficulties due to the travel ban. It now needs a well-designed relaunching which should be regarded as a priority from the viewpoint of the economic and social impact. The Mauritius Tourism Industry has been one of the Island’s success stories, but the challenges that lie ahead are immense. The opening of the borders is much desired but it also brings with it, new challenges. The destination's overall objective is to continue to survive through the crests and troughs of the crisis. Tourism is a real safety valve as regards employment.

There is a tendency to focus on a single sector product, rather than a multisector approach. Tourist development over time has brought change for the worse. Feedback received from overseas tour operators is not encouraging. The once pristine beauty of our Island has become soiled with tacky development and it is said that highbrow tourists are replaced by the lowbrow. The local communities initially enamoured with the industry become disenchanted, eventually, tourism with all its inherent promises self-destructs.

The Industry being at a total halt may give us the opportunity to press on the reset button and reopen towards a more holistic approach. The whole sector is choked and stakeholders are urging the authorities to open the borders. Obviously, It is absolutely vital that adequate sanitary planning and protocols are set to, without comprising the health requirements and the economy. Unthinkable that tourists will buy an expensive ticket for a long-haul flight to then be totally confined in a hotel. The application of the new normal should imperatively have an objective to reflect the best match or combination for health protection and economic components for a successful tourism relaunch. The success of a tourist destination depends on the regular arrival of a number of visitors, and the effects of their activities while they stay there.

The destination is looking at a change of branding!!! Mention has been made that ecology would be the main angle. Stakeholders would expect to participate in a programme of action to face the greatest complexities and challenges of sustainable development of the destination, its culture, its values, its way of life and the environment of the host country. A brand must not be changed just for the sake of changing. The versatility of the country’s workers, as well as their degree of education, their bilingualism, their ability to understand the notion of service, the sense of hospitality of our people, inside and outside hotels, are our assets. Our ambition should include community tourism by all means and also maintaining the polished service, irreproachable quality, exquisite cuisine, value-added sets of various local activities, genuine excursion-discovery programmes. Mauritius is Mauritius. No need to look far for branding.

Furthermore, important in the equation is our national airline and other airlines. The success of Mauritian tourism could not have occurred without the parallel successful beginnings of Air Mauritius and the many agreements settled relating to landing rights. Air Mauritius nowadays is under voluntary administration. Criticism against the airline has been merciless, not without reason. The national airline company has proved to be a key player and must be saved by all means. A combination of varied and common interests should power to move towards the same path with unshakeable faith.

Travel is the biggest education in life. I have always felt that being able to give back to the community is very important. It is what it is. This is the whole point and this is why I have endlessly and forcefully discourage all-inclusive tourism. It is one of the problems that I often grabble with because people matter. Take the T out of the can’t and make it can. It is everyone's responsibility and everyone must do their part. Like the legend of the hummingbird: it is not with drops of water that I will put out the fire, but I do my share.

Coquille Bonheur is a responsible receptive agent and delivers in the most conscious way, a vast choice of experiences with a sustainable approach. We do care about society and the environment. It is all about "making better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit. "Learned that less is more and that luxury lies in simplicity”. We are committed to developing equity in tourism benefits-sharing and in the promotion of community tourism. In our own way, we endeavour to protect the planet by reducing environmental impact by leaving the minimum footprint. We respect our fauna, flora, wildlife in their natural habitats. We support the local economy, respect the livelihoods of suppliers and artisans by paying a fair price.

With the ever-needed focus on sustainability, Coquille Bonheur dramatically steps up the pace of implementation, for the future of the people and the planet. The company made a major investment in a Mauritius tree planting programme and marks the firm’s genuine commitment to customers wanting to sustainably offset their carbon footprint and contribute to the ecological restoration, embracing the principles of sustainability. Coquille Bonheur banned all plastic products from all its operations, be it at the offices, at the airport, or during excursions onboard the vehicles. Above all, we care. We do provide access for people with disabilities and the disadvantaged. Coquille Bonheur is proud to be the only DMC in Mauritius to have signed with Blood Lions which is a pledge for wildlife. Those sustainable decisions charted a new path of balance for humanity and the planet.

Coquille Bonheur strongly believes that the future of the tourism industry lies in companies taking responsibility beyond the single bottom line and embedding the principles of sustainability into their business. We also categorically discourage swimming with the dolphins and turtles on the island. We believe that it is the most relevant and effective long term solution to maintaining the beauty and health of our marine animals. Moreover protecting the coral reefs and marine environment is essential to us for the long term success of the destination. For years now we invested in a solar-electric powered Catamaran which protects the lagoon and the marine reserves. It has no emissions and no noise thanks to its silent electric engines.

We would refer you to have a look at our responsible initiatives:

Read more: coquillebonheur.com

Our country has more than one feather in its straw hats. Mauritius is a true holiday destination known for its legendary hospitality. Its people are at the heart of the tourism industry. Our concerns for health & safety, social commitment and sustainable tourism are more than a sine-qua-non condition for the future landscape of the travel business. In response to the post-COVID-19, Coquille Bonheur has worked on rigorous hygiene protocols and standards to better welcome and serve future guests. The health and safety of our guests and staff remain our highest concern and priority.

Helen Simmans and Sally Brunning from Marketing Worldwide UK wrote: “We were in Mauritius in February 2020 and the friendliness of the people, the beauty of the clear seas and eclectic mix of mountains, verdant forests and cultures left a lasting impression.  We do hope it won’t be long until we can all return “.

Listen to our visitors, talk to tour operators worldwide, they will tell you where and how to invest your money for promotion to increase beneficial visibility and attract tourists. Post Covid-19 travellers expect a destination to be fully compliant with WHO recommendations and sanitary protocols, not confinement. The Industry needs to compose with the new trend of Airbnb, Bungalows and HomeAway. A serious Paradigm shift. In the meantime, clean up the Island, plant more flowers all over public places, show determination to ending poverty, leave no one behind, fight gender discrimination, clean water and sanitation, protect our destination, reduce its environmental footprint and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. The Mauritius tourism industry needs more than ever a  partnership of government, the tourism ministry and the private sector, at large. Tourism is not a hotel business exclusively. The local population should be associated with tourism activities. Tourism activity should be planned to include ecotourism, nature, culture, crafts and folklore. A more holistic approach involving all the sectors within the industry is required for an integrated solution for sustainable progress and development. 

Stay Safe

Christian Lefèvre

Managing Director

Coquille Bonheur

27 June 2020