Mauritius has long been regarded as a high-end travel destination aimed at the more discerning tourist. The hotel sector in Mauritius is upscale and appeals to the luxury travel market segment.
Indeed, tourism and the hotel sectors are two of the biggest industry sectors in Mauritius.
The global economy is experiencing a perfect storm; the on/off US-China trade war and BREXIT rumble on, the Chinese economy continues to slow and global debt continues to rise, consumer appetite to utilise significant sums of discretionary income to fund luxury travel has also dropped.
Whilst Mauritius has not necessarily seen a decline in tourism over the last few years, in large thanks to maintained numbers of chartered flights from locations such as the UK and France, but also from new entrants to the market, such as Italy, Switzerland and Austria, it has been unable to replicate the relative increases in tourism which have been experienced by similarly positioned luxury tourism destinations, such as the Seychelles and the Maldives.
The hotel and tourism sectors in Mauritius are at a point of reflection as they consider how to reinvigorate profitable and sustainable tourism. The hotel and tourism sectors on the island have not responded strategically to the increasingly political and economic global landscape and this has restricted their ability to attract greater numbers of profitable tourists.
Strategies developed in the coming years will take two to three years to be fully realised and generate greater levels of income. I would suggest in the coming years, whilst strategies are developed and executed, tourism to the island will stagnate, and as such, hotel occupancies will also stagnate – it is unlikely that stagnant numbers will generate desired incomes for the sector, and as such some businesses operating in these sectors may begin to experience some stress – particularly those carrying a large amount of debt.
What strategies might be deployed?
Trends in tourism have demonstrated that today tourists are seeking more than just a sunbed, a good book and a prime poolside position in order to part with significant sums of discretionary income. Today the discerning tourist has an expectation that with a luxury holiday, comes a range of experiences for them to immerse themselves in.
In my opinion, 2020 will be a year for the relevant Mauritian bodies to consider whether they need to diversify the types of travellers they attempt to attract in order for the tourism sector to flourish once again. Perhaps there is a need to consider re-positioning the island – many destinations before us have diversified their offering to attract greater numbers of tourists, whilst remaining profitable: duty free shopping destinations, destinations offering some of the best golf courses in the world, as well as those who are able to offer a range of eco-tourism opportunities to tourists have all seen increased profits from their tourism and related industries in recent times – perhaps this is something for the Mauritians to consider too.
I would also suggest that greater consideration should be given to ‘opening up the skies’ to carriers from countries who do not operate existing routes to Mauritius in order to attract greater numbers of tourists.
Raj is a restructuring specialist. His expertise ranges from traditional Administrations, Receiverships and Liquidation appointments to debt recovery assignments in foreign jurisdictions.
Raj is Quantuma Mauritius' managing director. He has held a vast number of appointments as Receiver & Manager, Administrator and Liquidator for businesses in a wide range of sectors spanning Banking, Textile, Contracting, Manufacturing, Hotel & Leisure, Funds and Global Business.