Reunion braces for Chinese visitor boom
It is largely credited to the persistence of the President of Reunion Island Tourism, Didier Robert, who is presently also the President of the Indian Ocean Vanilla Island Organization, who over the p
It is largely credited to the persistence of the President of Reunion Island Tourism, Didier Robert, who is presently also the President of the Indian Ocean Vanilla Island Organization, who over the past years relentlessly pushed the tourism agenda in Paris and had last year already obtained concessions that South African citizens could visit Reunion on a Visa Waiver Program, that the government in Paris has now consented to special procedures which will allow Chinese citizens to enter Reunion Island on a tourist visa with just 48 hours needed to process the same. A special ministerial decree in February last year opened the doors for South Africans to enter entirely visa-free which led to a significant rise in arrival numbers of over one-third on a year-on-year comparison and vastly improved load factors on flights between Johannesburg and St. Denis’ Roland Garros International Airport on the island.
Reunion Island, as part of France, ordinarily requires a Schengen Visa validated to also grant entry into the island, and this latest climb down by bureaucrats on the French mainland is a victory for Reunion Island’s ongoing efforts to widen their visitor base and tap into one of the world’s fastest-growing outbound markets.
At hand when Didier Robert made the announcement was Senator Jacqueline Farreyrol, herself a former President of Reunion Island Tourism (IRT) and an equally staunch supporter to make tourism the island’s number one economic activity by marketing Reunion Island in new and emerging markets to reduce the former total reliance on the French domestic market.
It was also learned that subsequent to these two administrative easements, discussions are ongoing to widen the Visa Waiver Program for a select group of other nationalities in order to further stimulate travel to Reunion Island.
It should be recalled that it was Didier Robert who immediately embraced the concept of the Vanilla Islands cooperation and for partnering with the Seychelles in tourism cooperation and promotion and who stood up to the bean-counting auditors in France who earlier this year had the audacity to question the island’s financial expenses towards tourism promotion and the Vanilla Islands partnership.
Reunion, a French region in the deep of the Indian Ocean with neighbors Madagascar and Mauritius, is over 2,500 square kilometers large and geographically diverse with in particular the rugged interior of overwhelming scenic beauty, as can be seen when taking a helicopter excursion and flying over the island or landing on the Piton de la Fournaisse and taking a hike towards the crater rim of an active volcano. The island’s tourism industry is today largely diversified from a mere beach holiday destination to an active adventure destination where white water rafting, deep sea fishing, swimming with dolphins, and watching whales has added cross-island hikes and paragliding to name just two of the popular pastimes on Reunion Island. For more information visit www.reunion.fr or download the award winning Reunion App to iPhone or Android smart phones.