In a surprising turn of events, Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority (MTPA) has taken up a position which contradicts the stance of the Foreign Affairs Ministry on regional integration and cooperation.

Statements by Karl Mootoosamy, Director, MTPA, on creating a separate identity for Mauritius go against what Anil Gayan, former Foreign Affairs Minister of Mauritius, had striven for in terms of showcasing the Vanilla Islands as a whole.

In response to Karl Mootoosamy questioning regional cooperation, a group of tourism entrepreneurs made it clear to international press correspondents that they were ready to form an unofficial tourism body in Mauritius and to represent the island at a regional level, and even lead a Mauritius delegation to the carnival in Seychelles, the event that seems to be a constant thorn by the side of the MTPA.

Sources in the island’s tourism and hospitality sector state that the MTPA presented a report seeking to showcase that Mauritius has nothing to gain from the Vanilla Islands and that gains for Mauritius would come from elsewhere.

The report implies that Mauritius should remove itself from the regional tourism body that the island nation itself helped create within the region.

The Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands comprise Comoros, La Reunion, Madagascar, Maldives, Mauritius, Mayotte and the Seychelles. It is believed that Sri Lanka, Zanzibar and Mozambique also wish to join the regional tourism body of the Indian Ocean.

Besides, the Indian Ocean Commission (Commission de l’océan Indien or COI) comprising Mauritius, La Reunion, Madagascar, Seychelles and Comoros is also headed by a Mauritian national, Jean Claude de l’Estrac. The headquarters of this regional grouping is based in Mauritius and it has been only weeks since it celebrated its 30th anniversary in Seychelles.

The tourism industry has been suffering lately, failing to achieve the 1 million-tourists mark for 2013 on lower footfalls from Europe, and many representatives of the travel trade want to see greater unity in the Indian Ocean Region to promote regional tourism.

MTPA’s inability to make up its mind one way or the other is hindering Mauritius tourism from branding itself properly. As much as Mauritius is an integral part of the regional tourism body of the Vanilla Islands, the island economy does not know at this late stage if it will be participating in the coming Carnival of Victoria in Seychelles.

Meanwhile, La Reunion, Madagascar, Mayotte (and even KwaZulu Natal of South Africa) have already decided to become co-hosts for the next carnival. The Carnaval de Victoria saw wide global participation last year with Brazil, Germany, Belgium, India, Indonesia, Italy, Korea, South Africa, Zambia and the UK coming down to Seychelles to be a part of this celebrated event with its explosion of culture and colour.

The 4th edition of the Carnaval de Victoria will have an added advantage as it will be covered by OI7 TV, the new regional television of the Vanilla Islands, which marks another major step forward in the history of regional cooperation in the Indian Ocean.

Image (via Soca News): As much as Mauritius is an integral part of the regional tourism body of the Vanilla Islands, the island economy does not know at this late stage if it will be participating in the coming Carnival of Victoria in Seychelles.

Source: eTurbo News