The DPM is optimistic about the tourism sector. He announced a review of the tourism sector for the period July 2021 to June 2022 and his forecast for the financial year July 2022 to June 2023. According to Steven Obeegadoo, the tourism recovery is positive with all indicators in the green, thus, Mauritius could reach 1.4 million tourists.
He expressed confidence that the sector will bounce back and emerge stronger than before the pandemic through measures implemented and concerted actions of both the public and private sectors. The tourism recovery rate for the period October 2021 to July 2022, he pointed out, has increased from 41.5% to 81.6%. He indicated that the tourism sector will be once again prosperous, adding that the goal of reaching the set target for tourist arrivals of one million for the current financial year will be attained.
He was speaking at a press conference at the Labourdonnais Hotel in Port Louis on Thursday 18 August. The Minister of Housing and Spatial Planning and Minister of Tourism said, “We have the right to be satisfied with the progress made during the pandemic and to have confidence in the future of the tourism industry.” He also said that he had scrutinized the work done in his ministry for tourism recovery and that “the new target for the 2022/2023 financial year is set at 1.4 million tourists. New markets will be exploited, including Iran.” He also pointed out that the markets of France and England are showing a satisfactory recovery rate.
“If everything remains unchanged, the ambition of 1.4 million tourists is quite achievable. We have agreed with the Minister of Finance on this very ambitious target, which is to do as well as the famous years 2018 – 2019. We want to return to the situation before the crisis. But there are many factors that are not in our control… There are obstacles, but the will is there and we want to work with everyone to achieve this goal,” announced an optimistic Steven Obeegadoo.
Speaking about the COVID-19 pandemic, DPM Obeegadoo underlined that it has significantly impacted the tourism industry and the Mauritian economy. The closure of the country’s borders to international travel, and the halt of operations of commercial flights to and from the country, since March 2020, brought the industry to a leap of ten years back, he said.
As for the financial year July 2021 to June 2022, he indicated that tourist arrivals dropped by 60 % to around 553,000 and tourism earnings to USD 913 million compared in 2018. According to him, one of the best earnings collected for the tourism sector in the history of Mauritius was in 2018 amounting to USD 1,786 billion.
Nevertheless, he underlined that the sector has emerged as being a resilient one due to the collaborative works of the public and private sectors. He lauded the robust vaccination campaign launched by Government to limit the COVID-19 virus and accelerate the opening of borders to normalcy.
Government, he recalled, has put in place various measures including the Wage Assistance Scheme; the Self-Employed Assistance Scheme; the exemption of license fees for operators in the sector; and the reconstruction and renovation scheme rebates for hotels. He indicated that for the period starting March 2020 to March 2022, Government has disbursed Rs 12.3 billion under the Wage Assistance Scheme and Rs 360 million under the Self-Employed Assistance Scheme while the Mauritius Investment Corporation Ltd disbursed Rs 11.8 billion.
DPM Obeegadoo gave the assurance that the stakeholders of the tourism industry will leverage on marketing and air connectivity to meet the ambitious objectives of the industry. He added that in order to support the recovery, stakeholders will consolidate existing markets such as the United Kingdom, France, Germany, South Africa and Reunion Island and tap into new opportunities markets. They include Austria, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Russia, and Belgium.