The Mauritius tourism sector on an interesting growth mode

Mauritius expert, Sen Ramsamy, is the Managing Director of Tourism Business Intelligence, analyses for News on Sunday the Government’s Three-Year Strategic Plan for the tourism sector. He also makes a series of proposals and identifies the low level tourist receipts as the principal challenge to Mauritius tourism. He prefers fewer tourists who spend lots of money on the island than to have a large number of visitors spending peanuts. He regrets that the three-year plan for tourism makes a total abstraction on tourist safety and security, air access beyond the corridor, duty-free shopping on large scales, product differentiation, events management and so many other initiatives that would have put our youth to work in a productive and profitable manner. He recommends that we define a new vision for tourism for the next 25 years, but with carefully worked out strategic plans for the short, medium and long term. He hopes that in the next three years, Mauritius would be able to trace out a new destiny for its tourism industry based on innovation.
Sen Ramsamy stated, in the first nine months of 2017, tourists arrivals increased by 6.1% to 934,679. Indeed, according to the Managing Director of the Tourism Business Intelligence, the tourism sector has been thriving on an interesting growth mode in 2017 with tourist arrivals likely to peak at nearly 1.4 million by the end of the year. Most importantly, says Sen Ramsamy, tourism receipts are also estimated to reach Rs 59 billion whilst direct employment in tourism is approximately at 31,000.
What explains this growth in 2017? “The principal driver of this growth in tourism is the air seat capacity that has been relaxed at a judiciously reasonable pace over the past few years. The other important factors influencing growth in tourism this year are the impact of the typhoons that had devastated several islands in the Caribbean region and the volcano threat until its eruption in Bali earlier this year.” Sen Ramsamy believes that the trends for 2018 indicate that tourism will continue on its growth path with possibly new record figures in arrivals and total foreign exchange earnings.

However he states that “employment is unfortunately growing at a rather slow pace whereas this can increase significantly without new hotel openings.  We only need a slight policy twist.” Sen Ramsamy also adds that the average expenditure per tourist continues to remain as low as Rs 4,338 per day, and this amount includes accommodation, food and drinks, transportation, shopping, excursions etc.

Sen Ramsamy : “The tourism sector on an interesting growth mode
“By international standards, this is relatively low. There is an urgent need, therefore, to add value to our tourism products so that we may incite our visitors to spend more during their stay in Mauritius. There are enormous opportunities for more revenues from tourism but these remain still untapped. Our people, and especially the youth, should be adequately trained and encouraged to move beyond the trodden path and bring innovative ideas and concepts to the sector. Likewise, a new mindset is needed for our institutions to breathe freshness in tourism business facilitation and development strategies for this sector.”

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Sen Ramsamy argues that the offer of all-inclusive packages by hotels and the phenomenal concept of Airbnb are seriously undermining the foundation of tourism in various destinations across the world. “Mauritius is no exception. Bold policy measures are called for in order to bring our destination back on its selective tourism policy track. Most of the tourists in Mauritius are willing to spend more of their disposable income but we lack attractive inland tourism facilities and services to incite them to spend more at value for money prices.

Nightlife is quasi non-existent in Mauritius whilst the new generation of world travelers is on the lookout for more vitality in our local business environment, day and night. The sad reality is that most of the shops in Mauritius run strangely as offices. They open at 10.00 am and close at 6.00 pm. But this is precisely the time when most people are at work. Our capital city is open only half day on Saturday and on Sunday, we are closed.”

He further states that compared to other countries, “shops work on two shifts, from 9.00 am to 13.00 pm and re-open at 5.00 pm till midnight, seven days a week. Restaurants and nightclubs also work on a two-shift system until 02.00 am daily.” He trusts that if we could change this business habit, it would mean immediate and more productive jobs for the people.

“Night activities conducted in a safe and secure environment can generate far more revenues and multiplier effects than our day activities. It is a good thing that we are diversifying our tourism market base. But contrary to the European culture, the Chinese, Indian, Arab and African visitors are generally late night shoppers/diners and partygoers. Singapore, Dubai and Hong Kong have readjusted their business strategies according to this new fashion and new trends in human behavior and they are capitalizing on this lucrative parallel economy. Destination Mauritius prefers to go to sleep early and wake up late. Plenty of missed opportunities.”

Sen Ramsamy believes that the economic sustainability of the tourism sector “will rest to a large extent on new policy orientations that could stimulate more business effervescence, bearing in mind that an addition of 1.4 million people are on the lookout for a great Mauritian experience and are willing to spend more.”

But primarily, as he claims, “it is our duty to ensure that the issue of tourist safety and security remains high on the agenda of all stakeholders. It is not simply a government responsibility. It is above all the duty and responsibility of every citizen to ensure that the tourist experience is made memorable, trouble free and full of fun in the land of smiles. It is also a matter of dignity and national pride for our people.”

Source: Riaz Nassurally, E-Tourism Consultant Social Media Marketing Director & Le Defi Media Group / News on Sunday

Editor’s Note:- We are republishing this article to highlight the similarities between Mauritius and Seychelles in this respect. I have known Sen Ramsamy  for many years and we have shared many platforms through the ICTP. I value his expertise in the field of tourism. The article touches on airline seats, on natural disasters before moving on to yield, and the need to incite visitors to spend. Sen Ramsamy agrees on the untapped opportunities that exist. He highlights lack of nightlife and the need to make shopping come alive, “Our capital city is open only half day on Saturday and on Sunday, we are closed,” he says before ending on the issue of safety.

These points hit close to home for the Seychelles Tourism Board, which is well aware that our vibrant town of Victoria shuts down after midday on Saturdays, and remains a graveyard on Sundays. Tourists have little to see and do after making the trek to the heart of the main island of Mahe, and virtually nowhere to enjoy a local beverage or sample Creole cuisine, on dreary weekends. Cruise Ship Season is here and shops and souvenir kiosks are still closed. This will be a good point for discussion at the Vanilla Islands Ministerial meetings.

Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1979), beginning as a travel agent up through today as a publisher of eTurboNews (eTN), one of the world’s most influential and most-read travel and tourism publications. He is also Chairman of ICTP. His experiences include working and collaborating with various national tourism offices and non-governmental organizations, as well as private and non-profit organizations, and in planning, implementing, and quality control of a range of travel and tourism-related activities and programs, including tourism policies and legislation. His major strengths include a vast knowledge of travel and tourism from the point of view of a successful private enterprise owner, superb networking skills, strong leadership, excellent communication skills, strong team player, attention to detail, dutiful respect for compliance in all regulated environments, and advisory skills in both political and non-political arenas with respect to tourism programs, policies, and legislation. He has a thorough knowledge of current industry practices and trends and is a computer and Internet junkie.