GIS – 31 May 2019: Connectivity is central to tourism development and promotion, particularly for long haul destination like Mauritius, said the Minister of Tourism, Mr Anil Gayan, yesterday during the opening of a two-day Indian Ocean Connectivity Forum being held at Sugar Beach Hotel, Flic en Flac.
In his address, the Minister highlighted the importance of providing seamless transport connectivity between destinations which requires coordinated actions between various stakeholders. It incorporates multiple levels of government across different countries and multiple agencies responsible for different modes including land, sea and air transport, he said. According to him, connectivity be it by air, sea or land is key to tourism growth and development and is essential for networking, promotion of trade and business. It also helps to promote understanding among people from different cultures, religions, beliefs and traditions, he underlined.
The intrinsic relation between connectivity and tourism, Mr Gayan further pointed out, presents significant challenges. Small Island Developing States, due to their isolation and distance from main land, depend heavily on connectivity for tourism development and growth, he added. Hence the need, he stated, to intensify efforts to develop competitive, frequent, reliable and affordable services and enhance intra-regional connectivity, be it by air or sea to further expand tourism in the region.
Speaking about the interdependent relationships between tourism and air transport, the Minister said that the growth of air transport and the expansion of tourism are intrinsically linked. Tourism represents not only the primary clients for air transport but it is also an important driver of economic growth, export and job creation, he added.
The Tourism Minister indicated that according to the World Tourism Organisation, last year the tourism sector accounted for 10% of global GDP, 7% of world’s exports of goods, 10% of total employment and 29% of the world’s services export. By 2030, international tourist arrivals are projected to reach 1.8 billion. Apart from the leisure segment, the business tourism and other niche segments are gaining momentum and represent a vast opportunity for air transport development, he indicated.
As regards tourism development in Mauritius, Mr Gayan pointed out that tourism is a key pillar of the economy accounting for 8.6% of GDP, 10% of total employment and around 5% of total investment in 2018. He highlighted that tourist arrivals increased from 74,597 in 1975 to reach 1,399,408 in 2018. Tourism earning attained an all-time record figure of Rs 64 billion last year compared to 35 million in 1975. Hotel stock increased to 113 hotels, representing 13,600 rooms, he said.
The Minister also acknowledged the growing popularity of the cruise tourism which is one of the fastest growing segments in the world tourism market and is a ‘must-have’ product for tour operators and travel agencies. Cruise tourism, he said, is very popular in the Caribbean Sea, Asia Pacific and South East Asia and is gaining increasing interest in the Indian Ocean region. Last year, Mauritius welcomed 42 cruise ships compared to 30 cruise ships in 2017 which carried some 67,515 cruise passengers. Cruise tourism among islands of the region has witnessed a major boost in its activities following the Vanilla Islands initiative, he added.
Minister Gayan concluded by emphasising the importance of portraying the tourism sector as a “green industry” based on its natural resources capital, cultural assets and eco-tourism activities, especially in this era of climate change.
Some 80 foreign delegates from 16 countries comprising policy makers, Director-Generals, Senior Government Officials, Chief Executives of Tourism Board, Academia and Tourism Experts are gathered to share experiences and best practices for the future of tourism.
The Forum is providing a platform to identify key issues and challenges and discuss policy measures to improve and facilitate connectivity in the Indian Ocean region to promote tourism growth and expansion. The themes which are being discussed include: infrastructure, airports, air traffic control, which types of aircraft for the region, carbon footprint concerned in the wake of climate change, health requirements and surveillance, land transport and security.
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