Asia is promising to be a new source of tourist cash this year, according to Tourism Minister Nandcoomar Bodha. Thwarting more conservative initial estimates on revenue, it’s now thought that emerging Asian economies will bring new capital to the Indian Ocean island, rather than dollars or struggling euros.
A minimum of 4% growth is expected by the government during 2011. Early forecasts by the national statistics office, issued on the final day of 2010, predicted a 3.4% expansion.
Mauritius can expect to bring in close to a million visitors over the coming year, who will spend 41 billion rupees or $1.3 billion.
Europe, home to the majority of visitors to Mauritius, has taken a beating in the global economy, with the euro weakened by 6.6 percent to the dollar, making it the worst performing major currency after the Danish krone. The Mauritian rupee gained 5.4 percent against the euro during 2010. The country has budgeted 300 million rupees ($9.9 million) for promotion, to maintain and increase Europe’s two-thirds share in tourist numbers but it seems as if new visitors to the highly-regarded island paradise will be coming from the other direction.
With the euro crisis, long-haul destinations have suffered the most, Bodha has said in the press recently. With a 10-15 hr flight time from most European countries, and stiff competition from other islands in the region including Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Mauritius is not expecting to pick up too many new European tourists.
However, new visitors from Russia, India and China are expected in significant numbers over the coming year. Air Mauritius is thought to be operating services to and from China by the middle of 2011. Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Hong Kong are all potential new routes. It is thought that, in the words of Nandcoomar Bodha, the ‘big, fat Indian wedding’ market will be a major target for promoting Mauritius, and a way to differentiate itself from the rest of the Indian Ocean pack. Golf is another money-spinning pursuit being explored, with a World PGA event expected to take place in Mauritius in 2012.
If you’re interested in a Mauritian holiday, take a look at the Flight Centre website, where you will find a range of cheap flights to exotic locations around the world.