We need to make of the difficult situation we are confronted with, an opportunity to rethink Mauritian tourism as well as its future and Government is working in partnership with the hotel industry and other stakeholders of the tourism industry to plan the steps ahead.
This statement was made today in the national Assembly by the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Housing and Land Use Planning and Minister of Tourism, Mr Steven Obeegadoo, in reply to a Private Notice Question by the Leader of the Opposition, Dr Arvin Boolell, in regards to the tourism sector.
Mr Obeegadoo emphasised that Government's topmost priority, alongside safeguarding the health of our compatriots, has been the preservation of employment and protection of livelihoods. In respect of the Tourism Industry up to the end of July, an amount of some Rs 2 billion has been disbursed in respect of more than 39,000 employees under the Wage Assistance Scheme and an estimated amount of approximately Rs 26 million paid out to around 1,500 Mauritians under the Self-Employed Assistance Scheme and it is estimated that an amount of Rs 500 million will be disbursed for the month of August 2020, he underlined.
DPM Obeegadoo stated that given the very dynamic global situation pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic and the fact that the Wakashio crisis is not yet over, it would be futile to pronounce upon the immediate future of the tourism and hospitality sector at the present time.
The Tourism Minister recalled that that in 2018, 1.399 million tourists visited Mauritius of which 78% resided in hotel resorts, in 2019, the corresponding figure was 1.383 million and for the first three months of 2020, 304, 842 tourists visited Mauritius, the number dwindling thereafter to practically nil. He added that the figures for the first quarter of 2020 relating to the evolution of employment in the tourism sector are being compiled.
The Deputy Prime Minister underpinned that Government is engaged in a delicate balancing act between the existential imperative of protecting lives on one hand and stimulating economic recovery on the other whilst the challenges are immense and daunting indeed for any nation and for all Governments across the globe.
Mr Obeegadoo appealed for national solidarity and unflinching patriotism as the tourism market is particularly sensitive to reports and statements in the international media. We all need to act responsibly if we have at heart the future of our tourism sector, he concluded.