- Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam of Mauritius holds that "Mauritius has the capacity, socially and physically, to receive over two million tourists a year," almost three times the number received in 2005. During the last few years, the Mauritian tourism sector had been stagnant, but growth returned in 2005.
The Mauritian Prime Minister made his optimistic statement at the opening ceremony this morning of the plenary session of "Les Assises du Tourisme". Prime Minister Ramgoolam said the Indian Ocean nation needed "the commitment of all stakeholders so as to capture a greater share of this rapidly growing global industry."
"Many less endowed countries are doing much better than we are - both in absolute numbers and in the share of GDP contributed by the tourism sector," Mr Ramgoolam pointed out. Indeed, the very importnat Mauritian tourism sector has not performed well during the last few years. In 2004, Mauritius only saw a growth in international arrivals below one percent - much poorer than the world average.
Last year, however, Mauritius was among the world's winners in the unpredictable tourism industry. A growth of 6 percent in international arrivals had been noted, a bit more than the global average growth of 5.5 percent. Neighbouring Seychelles had however grown by 7 percent.
For 2006, the prospects seem rather bleak given the spread of the mosquito-borne chikungunya disease in the Indian Ocean region. The disease has taken proportions of an epidemic in neighbouring Réunion and is rapidly spreading in Seychelles. First cases have been noted in Mauritius. Analysts fear that the disease may ruin the entire 2006 season for all Indian Ocean destinations.
Prime Minister Ramgoolam however holds that Mauritius needs to create much greater revenues from tourism, even though he is aware that "this sector remains fragile and is vulnerable to the vagaries of weather, fashion and epidemiology." In the wake of the "formidable challenges" in the sugar and textile sectors of Mauritius, "the tourism industry takes on a new importance," Mr Ramgoolam said.
The Prime Minister told the conference delegates it was "imperative that the country realises the full potential of the tourism industry and makes it the leading growth sector in the economy." Mr Ramgoolam promised the Mauritian government would make a great contribution to the development of tourism.
His government's tourism strategy included modernising the physical infrastructure; ensuring the safety and sense of security of visitors; preserving the environment; adopting a more courteous and people-friendly approach at the airport; increasing the tourism promotion budget; developing eco-tourism, medical tourism and cultural tourism; and "ensuring that everything is done to control the entry into the country of infectious diseases."
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.