As direct flights between Mauritius and China haven’t resumed yet, Mauritius needs to find ways quickly to convince Chinese tourists to endure enormously long flights to the island if it’s to reach its tourism targets for 2023.
Destinations throughout Africa are optimistic about getting a major tourism boost from China’s reopening to international travel.
Mauritius is one of those countries, and the Indian Ocean nation is working to overcome challenges like a lack of direct flights from China to attract Chinese tourists, historically a major market for the country.
“The reopening of the Chinese borders will give a new glimpse of hope to the tourism industry,” said Arvind Bundun, the director of the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority. “We are glad and ready to welcome Chinese tourists to Mauritius.”
Mauritian authorities are eager to reverse the decline in Chinese arrivals that had started well before the pandemic. Chinese visitation peaked in 2015 at nearly 90,000 before dropping to just below 43,000 in 2019. Bundun cited the end of flights from major cities such as Beijing and Guangzhou as one reason for the sharp decline. In addition, Air Mauritius hasn’t resumed the direct flights to China that it stopped in January 2020 due to the pandemic.
“Being far from the hubs like Dubai, Istanbul, Charles de Gaulle, point to point connectivity would be vital for market development,” Bundun said about Mauritius’ efforts to resume direct flights from China.
Bundun acknowledged that attracting Chinese visitors is vital for Mauritius, considering China’s peak outbound travel period — from May to September — coincides with Mauritius’ low season. So what steps is Mauritius taking to lure Chinese tourists?
Mauritian officials recently launched a new tourism campaign titled Feel Our Island Energy that Bundun said gives a breath of fresh air to the country’s branding. He added the country’s national board is also planning other social media campaigns.
“We believe that the Chinese market is going to gradually pick up once (direct flights are resumed),” Bundun said.
In the meantime, Mauritius is turning its focus to other markets, with the aim of attracting 1.3 million tourists this year. The island welcomed 1.4 million visitors in 2019.
“Our bread and butter will still come from UK and mainland Europe for now,” said Dhiren Pereira, general manager of Mauritius’ Oberoi Beach Resort.