The tourism sector for 2019, according to Statistics Mauritius, is expected to grow by 3.6% to reach 1 450 000 tourists, which is well above the growth rate of 3% required to reach two million tourists by 2030.
These figures were revealed at the National Assembly, today, by the Minister of Tourism, Mr Anil Kumarsingh Gayan, in reply to the PNQ of the Leader of Opposition with regards to tourist arrivals by air.
It is premature to predict the growth scenario of the tourism sector on the basis of the performance of the first quarter of the year because forward bookings for the coming three months indicate a positive growth of 3%, the Minister pointed out. Air connectivity, Mr Gayan indicated, is critical to tourism growth being given that Mauritius is a long haul island destination with 99% of the total tourists arriving by air. We have no territorial border that a tourist can simply cross to reach Mauritius, he recalled.
Mauritius' competitors in the Indian Ocean, the Minister remarked are Seychelles, Maldives and Sri Lanka, and these countries have adopted an open skies policy. 'What a liberal aviation policy implies is that airlines have complete flexibility to respond to market demands and opportunities, and passengers benefit from the widest possible travel and flight options at competitive rates', he said.
Speaking about efforts to review progress on market performance, Minister Gayan stated that regular meetings are held with senior officers of the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority (MTPA) to brainstorm on strategies to address new challenges. Over and above, these meetings, consultations are held with the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Association des Hoteliers et Restaurateurs de l'Ile Maurice on a monthly basis to review the situation in the tourism sector and discuss on measures to sustain the growth of the sector.
As regards developing a more realistic and pragmatic approach to the Chinese market, the Minister explained that a high level workshop was organised to brainstorm on the challenges and devise a coherent strategy to continue to tap the Chinese market. The MTPA including its Public Relations Representative based in China, top management of Air Mauritius and captains of the hotel sector, participated.
Moreover, Mr Gayan highlighted that apart from the Chinese and Indian markets where Mauritius has airlift constraints, Germany, France and all our new markets (United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Benelux countries, Commonwealth of Independent States countries, Nordic countries and Africa) are performing remarkably well. For instance, Saudi Arabia registered an increase of 109% during period January to March 2019 over the corresponding period last year, he added.
Statistics Mauritius - Tourist arrivals
Tourist arrivals for the last three months are as follows as per Statistics Mauritius:
· Total tourist arrivals for January 2019 increased by 1.1% in spite of the adverse climatic conditions;
· Total tourist arrivals for February 2019 were at par with February 2018. This is mainly explained by the decrease in tourist arrivals from China and India due to the reduction in airlift capacity by 6,500 seats resulting in a drop of 5.6%; and
· Total tourist arrivals in March 2019 dropped by 4.5% mainly because Easter holidays this year are in April.
The figures as at 22 April 2019 indicate an increase in passenger arrivals of 3.5%.