- Three new hotels were inaugurated by Mauritian Prime Minister Paul Bérenger, last week, bringing the island's total number of hotels to 101. The government is now aiming at further boosting the tourism infrastructure by setting up a Tourism Development Authority and rethinking Mauritius' marketing strategy.
Prime Minister Bérenger himself opened all the three new hotels of the Indian Ocean island state, thus underlining the national importance of the tourism sector. These three hotels - Telfair Golf, Voile d'Or Resort and Heritage Golf - will according to the government "give a boost to the development of tourism." They form part of an integrated resort scheme to transform the southern part of the island into "a new pole of touristic attraction."
Mr Bérenger at one of the inaugurations said that Mauritius has to find its bearings in this competitive global context and assert its position as an "out of this world location and dream destination. This warrants a re-think of our marketing strategy with regard to customer targeting, quality of infrastructure, service levels, auxiliary tourism leisure activities, and, more importantly, Customer after-care."
While urging stakeholder in the tourism industry to "work more closely together on the branding of destination Mauritius," the Prime Minister said government would assist the industry "in every possible manner" to ensure sustainable development.
A number of measures had been taken to that effect, said Mr Bérenger. This included the development of integrated tourist areas such as the new development areas in the south of the island. Further, government had enacted a Planning and Development Act and an Investment Promotion Act, and it was setting up a Tourism Development Authority. Finally, a new visa policy with regard to visitors from India and China was being defined.
- I do believe that the awards and recognition conferred upon Mauritius and our hotels testify to the fact that we are on the right track, said PM Bérenger. "With the scale of developments underway and more developments planned for the coming years, I am convinced that Mauritius will emerge as one of the top prize tourist destinations," he added.
The Prime Minister however admitted that investments and reforms were necessary. "For this to happen, we have to ensure that the tourist infrastructure is properly maintained, service levels are continuously improved, our marketing is further strengthened, and the supporting industries grow and develop in parallel," he said.
Indeed, the Mauritian tourism sector is getting close to stagnation. During the first three quarters of the year (January to September), tourism arrivals had only increased by 0.5 percent compared to last year. A total of 503,294 tourists visited Mauritius during that period. Around 90 percent of the tourists came mainly for holidays while 4.5 percent were on business trips.
Arrivals from Europe, which accounted for 65.3 percent of total tourist arrivals, grew by 0.5 percent to 328,643 during the first nine months of 2004 compared to 2003. Arrivals from France, Mauritius' leading market, represented 28 percent of total tourist arrivals and increased by 3.9 percent. A growth of 7.9 percent was noted in arrivals from Italy. However, a large decline in arrivals was noted from Germany, Spain, the UK and other major European countries.
Regarding infrastructure, Mauritius still has a transparent hotel sector. Before last week's inaugurations by PM Bérenger, there were a total of 98 registered hotels in operation. The total room capacity for these registered hotels in operation was 10,008 with 20,115 bed places. The room occupancy rate for all hotels for the first nine months of 2004 averaged 60 percent.
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