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The Future of Tourism in Mauritius in a Post-Pandemic World



The Future of Tourism in Mauritius in a Post-Pandemic World
A luxurious resort and its pool in Mauritius, Image by Clariston

By Bhawna Ahuja, IndraStra Global

In late June 2022, Mauritius, one of the most sought-after honeymoon destinations in the world, finally lifted several COVID-19 restrictions to boost tourism in the country.

This island nation in the Indian Ocean is renowned for its pristine beaches, secluded islands, and luxurious hotels.

By July 1, all the strict health protocols in place during the pandemic were finally lifted. Also, over 90% of the population has had two doses of vaccination, and around two-thirds of adults over 18 have received booster shots.

Even before the island-wise lockdown was implemented, there were already indications that the pandemic was harming the tourism industry in Mauritius.

The virus dampened people’s enthusiasm for traveling worldwide and caused several businesses, including hotels, travel agencies, and guesthouses, to shut their doors for an extended period.

The lockdown in Mauritius, which began in the middle of March 2020 and continued until the middle of June 2020, worsened the situation. As a result, the tourism industry braced the brunt of a severe slowdown. 

The Data and Assessment

According to Statistics Mauritius, compared to January to September 2019, the total number of tourist arrivals in 2020 fell by 68.6%; those arriving by air saw a decrease of 70.9%, while those arriving by sea saw an increase of 16.2%. The number of tourists visiting France, the country with the highest revenue from tourism, fell by 60.9% in the first nine months of 2020. 

The list includes the countries among the leading markets where sales were down;

  • The People’s Republic of China (down 85.4%)
  • India (down 78.1%), 
  • The Republic of South Africa (down 77.6%)
  • United Kingdom (down 77.6%)
  • Reunion Island (down 69.1%), and 
  • Germany (down 59.5%)

Despite this slowdown, Mauritius is still a robust tourism-dependent economy, and the sector has emerged as an essential engine of growth over the last decades. The tourism sector is a significant source of employment, government revenue, and foreign exchange earnings for the island’s economy.

Without this vital lifeline, Mauritius will likely experience a dramatic contraction in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and a rise in unemployment.

Before the pandemic, tourism was doing relatively well, with favorable growth rates. It contributed 8.1 percent to GDP, with around 1,383,488 tourist arrivals recorded during 2019. 

The real GDP increased by 4% in 2021, as reported by the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF’s) most recent Article IV Executive Board Consultation, which took place on June 15, 2022. This was because many industries returned to their pre-pandemic levels of economic activity, whereas the tourism industry continued to struggle.

In light of these circumstances, the current account deficit ballooned to far larger groups. IMF Staff projects real GDP growth of 6.1 percent in 2022. The tourism sector expects an economic rebound, with tourist arrivals expected at 60 percent of pre-pandemic levels.

Way Forward

COVID-19 brought to light Mauritius’s urgent need to investigate the additional potential in its tourism industry.

As the pandemic is receding worldwide, the island nation has to strengthen its competitiveness and resilience. And to facilitate the tourism industry’s recovery and reconsider the industry’s future in light of the new climate created by COVID-19, policymakers need to concentrate on developing an action plan and a long-term strategy.

This can be achieved through greater market diversification, such as attracting senior citizens (to retire) and digital nomads (to work from anywhere), which are attractive but distinct market categories. 

Such categories should get support from world-class tourist healthcare and inclusive mobility infrastructure; duly linked with sustainable concepts such as “carbon-neutral tourism.”

In short, it should be a collection of integrated services such as accommodation, medical, transportation, outdoor activities, culinary experiences, meet-the-locals, etc. — making it easier for micro, small, and medium-sized businesses, which require more substantial support and specific programs customized to their requirements, to operate in a conducive business environment.

Therefore, coordination and concerted action across all aspects of the travel and tourist ecosystem are required to revitalize the industry.

About the Author:

The Future of Tourism in Mauritius in a Post-Pandemic World
Author at Le Caudan Waterfront, Port Louis, Mauritius (June 24, 2022)

Bhawna Ahuja is a Culture & Lifestyle Editor and Head-Content & Communications at IndraStra Global. She is a “Human Psychology” driven Digital Entrepreneur with more than eight years of experience in Digital Marketing, Social Media, Public Relations & Insights Management. She can be reached on her Youtube ChannelInstagramTwitter, and Linkedin.

Note: The author traveled to Mauritius in June 2022 on a self-funded trip. The views expressed in this insight piece are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect any government or organization’s official policy or position. 

Reprinted with permission of IndraStra Global

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