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AfricaMoney | October 19, 2017

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Mauritius-China ties to touch greater heights on new Shenzhen-Plaisance flight

Mauritius-China ties to touch greater heights on new Shenzhen-Plaisance flight

China Southern Airlines is looking at operating a direct flight between China and Mauritius from June 27 onwards, if its request is approved by the concerned Mauritian authorities. (Image: e’m company)

Taking the relationship between Mauritius and China to greater heights, China Southern Airlines is looking at operating a direct flight between Shenzhen and Plaisance.

The airlines laid this proposal on the table at a meeting between the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority (MTPA) and the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) on May 12.

A delegation of businessmen from the Chinese tourism sector, led by CNTA’s Vice-president Wang Zhifa, are presently in Mauritius for a working session with Mauritius Tourism Minister Michael Sik Yuen and other stakeholders in the Mauritian tourism segment.

Wang announced that a new flight between China and Mauritius will be inaugurated on June 27, 2014 if the request of China Southern Airlines is approved by the concerned officials in charge in Mauritius.

Initially, every Friday there will be a flight and the frequency will increase thereafter according to market demand.

“There is a good threshold of diplomatic confidence between China and Mauritius. The cooperation between these two countries is supported by a robust foundation of goodwill. Furthermore, the leaders of both countries are considerate of each other’s requirements. These are among the many reasons why we enjoy a good political environment for tourism,” he explained.

In addition, if the request is approved, it will provide possibilities to Mauritians and Chinese opting for a transit via Hong-Kong, Kuala Lumpur or Dubai.

Michael Sik Yuen considered this meeting fruitful and instructive as Mauritius and China plan to unite over joint flights from China to Mauritius and other African countries.

He highlighted that Mauritius will serve as the tourist hub of the region and that he is already working on this project as well as on a similar one for the Indian Ocean region.

Besides, the tourism minister underlined that the China-Africa Development Fund (CAD Fund), which aims at stimulating and facilitating Chinese investments in Africa, is assigning a budget of USD 5 billion this year.

“We plan to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the CNTA,” he noted.

The minister highlighted that the CAD Fund will help to attract Chinese tourists towards African destinations, including Mauritius.

“And, contrary to what several people think, a survey demonstrated that, during their stay, Chinese tourists spend across on shopping and sightseeing, among others. Their expenses are more balanced,” he confided.

The president of the Association of Tourist Operators (ATO), Ajay Jhurry, said that this aviation project will have a beneficial economic impact.

“The Chinese travel in line with their purchasing power. If Mauritius wants to take advantage of this market, we need to have more seats and more flights available,” Ajay Jhurry stated.

He noted a lack of flights to China by Air Mauritius and observed that if the request of China Southern Airlines is approved, it will plug this shortage.

Until now, Air Mauritius operates three direct flights to Shanghai and one to Beijing on a weekly basis.

At the meeting, possibilities of developing SMEs, investments, services and cultural exchanges between both countries were also touched upon.

It is to be noted that, for the quarterly period ended March 2014, Asian arrivals rose 29.4% but displayed a lower rise than last year, when they spiralled up by 36.5%. This increase in Asian footfalls has been boosted by visitors from China, which increased by 93.4% to 18,034 in the first quarter of the year.

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