Mauritius tourism 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%, says a report by Axys Stockbroking.

While Maldives, Sri Lanka and Mauritius all hosted a little fewer than 1 million guests in 2012, solid-double digit growth thereafter has propelled the former two well ahead of Mauritius.

Thus, in just four years, Mauritius has been relegated from market leader in Indian Ocean tourism space, with dominant market share of 40%, to a laggard at third place.

Axys Stockbroking’s recently published report on the Mauritian tourism industry also notes that the island’s receipts per visitor per day (RpVD) last year stood below Rs 4,000 for the first time since 2005.

The report by the Mauritius-based financial services firm also projects tourism receipts at Rs 42.5 billion in 2014, against Rs 40.6 billion in 2013, a rise of 5%.

Further, Mauritius’ tourist arrivals in 2014 are expected to hit 984,000 excluding transit and cruise passengers, against 963,000 comparable tourist footfalls in 2013, representing a rise of 2%.

Total tourist arrivals in 2013 increased to 993,000, representing an increase of 2.9% over 2012 numbers.

However, excluding transit and cruise passengers, the figure improved by 3.5% to 963,000 compared to 931,000 in 2012.

The report mentioned that in 2013, Europeans contributed 55% of tourist arrivals while 15% of tourist arrivals were Asians.

While Mauritius can expect growth in tourism earnings with European tourists returning as Eurozone economies recover, but analysts say real growth in the sector will come from targeting Asia.

The report also argues that a technocratic high level steering committee is required to bring direction and concrete objectives back to this ‘headless’ industry.

Ultimately, Axys Stockbroking has advised that the Mauritian destination must be re-glamorised by the government, and the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority (MTPA) must get its act in place. The report criticizes the flip-flop by the MTPA over the current branding of Mauritius tourism under ‘Mauritius C’est un Plaisir’ motto, and notes that digital marketing is essential to take the brand forward in this day and age of social media.

On the other hand, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) expects Mauritius’ tourism sector to grow by 4.4% a year over the next decade, with its share of total national investment rising to 6.5% by 2024 from 5.8% in 2014.

In 2013, the direct contribution of Travel & Tourism to the total GDP stood at 11.3% or Rs 41.4 billion. This figure is forecast to rise by 6% in 2014, and to rise by 4.4% per annum from 2014-2024, to Rs 67.8 billion, or 12.0% of total GDP, in 2024.

Concerning capital investment, Travel & Tourism is expected to have attracted Rs 5 billion in 2013, which is anticipated to grow by 1.7% in 2014 and continue to grow by 4.8% per annum over the next ten years to Rs 8.1 billion in 2014.

The tourism sector has the ability to generate high levels of employment as it is proved to be a tool for economic development and job creation, the WTTC report notes.

Consequently, last year Travel & Tourism directly supported 62,000 jobs, representing 10.8% of total employment, and this figure is expected to rise by 4.1% this year and rise by 2.5% per annum to 83,000 jobs, 12.0% of total employment, in 2024.

In addition, the total contribution of Travel & Tourism to employment, including wider effects from investment, the supply chain and induced income impacts, was 137,500 jobs in 2013.

This number is anticipated to increase by 3.6% to 142,500 jobs in 2014, with Travel & Tourism ultimately forecast to support as many as 179,000 jobs by 2024, an increase of 2.3% per annum over the period.

Struggling to take off? In just four years, Mauritius has been relegated from market leader in Indian Ocean tourism space, with dominant market share of 40%, to a laggard at third place. (Image: Global Village Directory)

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