Tourism in Mauritius
Situated in the middle of the Indian Ocean, Mauritius has always been a haven to holiday makers with its breathtaking blue waters, white sandy beaches, green sugarcane fields, all year long sunny climate and the hospitality of its multi cultural population. But over the years, as Mauritius has had to diversify from the sugar production monopolization, the government aimed at converting tourism into one of the main pillars of the economy. Over the past two centuries, tourist arrival increased from 9% to 21% with many ups and downs during that time period. Most of the tourists originate from the European countries especially France, followed by the UK, Italy and Germany. During the period of January to August 2010, overall tourist numbers were set at 581 252 with 372 997 from Europe, 143 102 from Africa, 48 644 from Asia, 6 957 from Oceania and 8 765 from America. All data are obtained from the passport and immigration offices (air and water) and then compiled in the Central Statistics Office in Mauritius. Tourist arrival can be divided mainly into excursionists (staying less than 24 hrs mostly on transit) and tourists (usually over longer time periods). The tourism industry is a very important one in Mauritius and has been estimated to open up 30,000 full time jobs as per the year 2000. In the vision to promote its growth, the government has developed better infrastructures, ensured better tourist safety measures and developed eco tourism strategies. But because Mauritius is quite small with a fragile ecosystem, selective tourism (for richer people) is preferred. In this respect, 4 and 5 star hotels with high class service have been built to accommodate the high class tourists and overall holiday costs tend to be expensive. Surveys on the tourists of Mauritius have revealed some important facts like more male tourists come to Mauritius than female ones. Most of the people coming to Mauritius are employed people, retirees, students and housewives; they mostly come to the island on holidays, honeymoon, for businesses or to visit family and friends. During their visit they stay in hotels, bungalows, boarding houses or over at friends. They are influenced to come to Mauritius by friends, tour operators and previous visits and usually spend more money on accommodation, meals and beverages, shopping, transport and entertainment. France is the main motor of the tourism industry on the island and now the government is coming up with a scheme, mainly in the form of branding, to encourage tourists from other parts of the world especially India and China, major business counterparts of the island, to come over. Both of these tasks are challenges; experts in the field say that the best way to do this is to picture Mauritius as a major honeymoon place for the Indians and unique business area for the Chinese. The government is aiming at increasing the number of tourist arrival to 2 million by 2015 via various promotional campaigns which would cause great leaps in the economy of the island if successful.