A delegation of parliamentarians from Mauritius met Seychelles tourism minister Alain St Ange last week. The parliamentarians had traveled to Mahé, Seychelles, to show solidarity and demonstrate a spirit of cooperation. Alain St Ange made use of this golden opportunity to brief the delegation on a range of issues of mutual interest.

High on the agenda was inter-island cooperation in tourism and other areas, and with both islands being founder members of the Vanilla Island Organization, it is expected that the topic of how the Seychelles and Mauritius can both benefit from this marketing platform was a major thread of discussion.

Additionally, on their last visit to Seychelles, some months ago, the parliamentarians had shown real interest in knowing more about the Vanilla Islands Organization and the successes already accomplished, as well as the plans for the future.

It may be noted that trade between Mauritius and Seychelles stands at present at only USD 49.6 million annually, but that figure is expected to improve as further ways to work together are explored.

In this context, it is also important to note that Mauritius tourism has lagged far behind that of other Indian Ocean islands with a pale 3% annualised growth rate between 2009 and 2013, even as Seychelles grew by 10%, Maldives by 14% and Sri Lanka by a towering 30%.

Mauritius has much to learn from its fellow Indian Ocean islands, as it has fallen from grace from a dominant position as market leader with 40% share of the Indian Ocean tourism market, to a lowly third place, in four years of complacence.

It is here that the Vanilla Islands Organization can come to the rescue, allowing Mauritius to learn from the experiences of fellow island economies as the island nation tries to regain its dominant position in the Indian Ocean region.

Image (Seychelles News Agency): Alain St Ange made use of this golden opportunity to brief the delegation on a range of issues of mutual interest, with inter-island cooperation in tourism being high on the agenda.

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