Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority director Arvind Bundhun speaks to Samantha Mayling as the destination prepares to reopen
The boss of Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority (MTPA) has praised the role of UK travel agents, as the destination reopens to international travellers.
The Indian Ocean island nation is allowing international travellers from Thursday (July 15), with vaccinated holidaymakers able to stay in one of 14 “resort bubbles”.
Non-vaccinated visitors must complete a 14-day quarantine period in designated hotels. Visitors will stay in their room and meals will be delivered to them.
All travellers are required to provide proof of a negative Covid-19 PCR test taken between five and seven days before boarding at their last point of embarkation.
The second phase of reopening begins on October 1, when vaccinated travellers will be allowed entry without restrictions and be able to travel around the island.
Mauritius is on the British government’s amber list so those arriving back in the UK will not have to isolate upon their return, from July 19.
Arvind Bundhun, MTPA director, welcomed the easing of amber rules, saying: “The relaxation of the quarantine requirements on return to the UK will no doubt encourage UK citizens to feel confident to book a holiday to our beautiful island.”
He added: “Travel agents are absolutely key for sales of Mauritius holidays. We rely on the amazing travel agents’ knowledge and passion for the destination to help best explain why their customer should pick Mauritius over other destinations.
“We hugely value our travel agent partners’ support and want to make sure we reward them where we can.”
Before the pandemic, the UK was the third biggest market for Mauritius behind Reunion and France, with 151,000 tourists a year.
“It is a priority for us to work with the UK trade to reassure their customers and keep them informed,” Bundhun said.
“By putting out attractive deals the trade will also be vital in enticing customers to book and converting initial enquiries into sales.
“Our UK trade office is ensuring that information about the destination reaches the travel trade audience in the UK and we are developing online content and information to keep them up to date on Mauritius’ phased reopening.”
Air Mauritius will offer three flights per week from Paris to Mauritius from July 15 and there are connecting flights with partner carrier Air France from airports across the UK.
British Airways, Emirates and Turkish Airlines are currently looking to resume flights to Mauritius.
The MTPA will be running webinars and promotions with the trade on platforms such My Hablo, and it is continuing its ‘Mauritius Now’ marketing campaign that was launched in late 2020.
Bundhun said forward bookings for late 2021 and 2022 are positive, and some operators are reporting better numbers than in 2019.
“Mauritius is, of course, very popular with couples and honeymooners…but we also see many families and sportspeople looking to enjoy outdoors activities, particularly golf,” he added.
“We see a full range of ages and often many multi-generational groups as there is a such a broad range of activities.
“Mauritius is known for its stunning beaches, wealth of nature and wildlife and diverse range of class-leading hotel resorts.
“The island has always been known for its safety and security so visitors can be assured that hygiene and health will be the utmost priority on a trip to Mauritius.
“We invite visitors and our trade partners to visit the ‘Mauritius Travel Advice’ section on our new ‘Mauritius Now’ website where health and safety protocols outlining detailed information can be accessed and downloaded.”
He said the country has seen a low death rate from Covid-19 thanks to the response of the Mauritian authorities and the country’s health system.
Furthermore, the government has prioritised frontline staff in the tourism industry, as well as their immediate household, during the vaccine programme.
He said tourism provides 100,000 direct and indirect jobs across the country, contributing up to 10% of GDP (gross domestic product).
New trends that are emerging are responsible tourism and slow travel, added Bundhun, and the sector is looking forward to the opening of LUX* Grand Baie Resort & Residences on November 1.
“Mauritius already had a green-focused sustainable tourism strategy in place to promote the interior of the island that included outdoors activities and sports such as golf,” he said.
“Given the trend towards open spaces, wilderness exploration, slow travel and getting back to nature that we expect to see in a post-pandemic travel world, we will definitely further pursue this angle in our marketing and consumer approach. Mauritius is leader in the region for eco-tourism.”
Another development during the pandemic was the launch of a ‘Premium Visa’ in 2020, which allowed remote workers for up to a year.
“We have seen a number of UK travellers utilise the visa and this is an ongoing promotion that we will continue to offer in the long-term,” said Bundhun.