With 80,000 Indian visitors last year, Mauritius has set an objective of increasing the number to 120,000 in two years by expanding not only the segment of tourism, but also going beyond the metros to tier II markets in India, says Arvind Bundhun, director, Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority (MPTA).
How has Mauritius developed as a tourism destination and how has the Indian market been evolving for you?
We affirm ourselves not only as a simple beach destination, but Mauritius is also a world in itself, we have a lot to offer. It is diverse, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and has a lot of attributes that other competing destinations do not have. India is a very important reservoir for us, needless to highlight the ties that the two countries have, but we are targeting to have around 120,000 Indian tourists by the year 2020. It has been a constant and steady, double-digit growth each year.
What is your strategy to get a 50 pc growth in India?
The Mauritian tourism industry is constantly diversifying. We started in the Indian market as the best romantic destination and we remain a very good romantic destination for them. Then we started diversifying the product and started attracting families, which is a good business for us during our low season which is from May to September, which is holiday season in India and when the weather here is also very nice.
What are the new targets for the year to come?
During the last two years, we started attracting Indian weddings, this has been growing consistently and this year we will focus much more focus on the wedding segment. In fact, for the SATTE in New Delhi, we will host a function for Indian wedding planners. The other segment is the MICE business, which has also been growing. We have accommodated large groups of Indians coming for three-four nights in Mauritius, not only to experience the beach but also to explore the interiors. A lot of activities be organised, be it team building on the beach or other locations. We can also organise special dinners, catamaran cruises or excursions on the islands.
How is MTPA helping Indian tour operators in developing the MICE segment?
We have revised our MICE strategy, helping operators to bring groups of one hundred and above, by giving them facilities, it can be customs facilities, or help in organising their events, it could also be through part-financing activities.
Now that Mauritius has matured as a destination in India, what is your next move to expand the market?
The strategy will slightly change this year. Currently, 50 pc of the Indian tourists come from Mumbai. We are connected through Air Austral and Emirates and of course Air Mauritius is flying from four destinations: Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Bangalore. This year we will target tier II cities, last October we had a big roadshow covering five tier II cities and in April we will be teaming up with another airline to carry out joint promotion campaign in Kolkata and Hyderabad. Finally, on top of that, in March we will be organising a massive roadshow again in another five tier II cities, the objective being to maintain our reservoir and expand our reach.