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Mauritius woos trade with cash incentives and VAT refund

Mauritius is pinning its hope on 2020 for a rebound in tourism numbers and has lined up a number of exciting incentives programme that’s set to catch industry attention. There is an estimated drop of 10 per cent in tourist arrivals from India last year. Mauritius is expecting around 80,000 Indian tourists in 2019, down from around 88,000 a year before. However, Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority (MTPA) is confident that its slew of marketing and promotion initiatives lined up for the year will have the travel industry and tourists interested in Mauritius in 2020.

In an interview on the sidelines of SATTE 2020, Arvind Bundhun, Director, MTPA, said, “2019 was quite a challenging year for Mauritius. The Indian market which is one of the major reservoirs for Mauritius has dropped slightly. We have registered up till now a decrease of around 10 per cent.” Bundhum pointed at the competition from the emerging destinations as lot of Indians have started travelling to countries like Vietnam and other parts of Asia. “One of the reasons that we reaffirm our presence in SATTE to meet old partners to work hand-in-hand with them so that we can reverse the trend in 2020,” he said.

MTPA has launched a slew of marketing campaigns to recoup its share and grow. It has already put in place some attractive incentive schemes targeted at various segments of travelers. “We are offering certain incentives for MICE travel agents. For MICE groups of minimum 100 pax and three-night stay, the agent is entitled for a cash incentive of around 100,000 Mauritian Rupee (About INR 200,000) once the booking is confirmed. If the group size is 250 pax with a minimum of three-night stay, the agent is entitled for a cash incentive of 200,000 Mauritian Rupee which is around INR 400,000,” he informed.

“On top of this, we are targeting weddings and groups. We have loads of incentives that we have put in place to attract big fat Indian weddings to Mauritius. We offer a VAT refund of 15 per cent on accommodation for three nights. There are duty free facilities. There are loads of incentives that are being provided,” he informed.

He said that the MTPA is planning to launch a big visibility campaign in March 2020 across several major cities in India to target the high season in May. “We are also working a lot on social media and trying to develop film induced tourism. Last year, we have welcomed around ten big production houses from India to Mauritius and it is already reaping the fruits of success. We have a web series right now which is called ‘Holiday’, totally shot in Mauritius and is being broadcasted in India,” he informed.

Internationally, Mauritius welcomed around 1.4 million tourists. Numbers in 2018 and 2019 have been around the same level. “Last year, we have had some challenges with airlifts as well. Air seat capacity has decreased from our traditional markets,” Bundhun informed. The Authority is keen to recover and grow its arrival numbers. “The objective is to reposition the destination as a luxury and classy destination and to be on the top of the mind of Indian travelers,” Bundhun said. France is Mauritius’ top source market with close to 300,000 annual visitors, whereas Indian ranks sixth on the chart.

India is not only one of Mauritius’ top source markets but is also strategic in various other ways that helps the local tourism sector in more ways than others. “Indian travelers travel during our low season. Secondly, there is historical ties that tie Mauritius with India as 52 per cent of the Mauritian population is of Indian origin. So, in terms of culture, in terms of eating habit, Mauritius is well adapted to the needs of Indian clientele. Indians always look for new sources of adrenaline and it helps us in increasing tourism. We really want Indian tourism to be resilient, to be inquisitive, so that it becomes an even better industry for us.”

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