Mauritius looking to Asian markets to drive growth in tourism - CNBC Africa

Mauritius looking to Asian markets to drive growth in tourism

Southern Africa

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However, they have not had much luck as yet in growing their numbers, resulting in a second cut for 2013 in their forecast of tourist arrivals.

Mauritius expects 980,000 tourists this year, compared to its previous forecast of a 2.5 per cent rise to 990,000.

 “The past 5 years since the economic recession of 2008 have been very difficult for the tourism industry,” Paul Jones, chief executive of Lux International Resorts told CNBC Africa on Wednesday.

Due to the current debt crisis and economic slowdown in Europe, travellers from the region have cut down on the number of long haul holidays taken, especially to destinations such as Mauritius, which has severely impacted the island’s tourism industry.

“We have, as a destination, been struggling to get the number of tourist arrivals above the 1 million mark, which was the target set 3 or 4 years ago,” said Jones.

Also, Statistics Mauritius said that the average room occupancy rate for all hotels during the first half of 2013 was 60 per cent, compared to 62 per cent in the same period last year.

Despite the poor results, Jones believes that there are a number of positive signs to look forward to which could potentially mean that these numbers will grow in future.

 “Arrivals in August increased by 11 per cent and we're expecting arrivals for September to maintain a double digit growth. There is no reason to believe that the last quarter of this calendar year won’t follow suit.

He added that a new airport terminal opened in August this year, which is said to be the largest piece of infrastructure ever built on the island, standing at 56,900 square meters.

According to reports, the new terminal will double the airport’s capacity and will play a crucial role in the economic development of Mauritius.

“It is a fantastic achievement. It’s been in construction over the past four years. When you walk through the building, you'll think that you are in any major city in the world,” exclaimed Jones.

“I think it sets out the ambition of Mauritius for growth in terms of passenger arrivals and particularly the tourism industry.”

Tourism currently accounts for per cent of Mauritius’ 10 billion dollar economy. 

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