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AfricaMoney | October 19, 2017

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Mauritius fishes for Chinese tourists

Mauritius fishes for Chinese tourists, but are they biting?

Mauritius is trying hard to attract more Chinese tourists to offset decline in European footfalls, but are its efforts really paying off? (Source: www.accomodation.io)

Seychelles and Maldives are giving their Indian Ocean cousin a run for its money as Mauritius goes all out to attract more Chinese tourists to counter stagnation in growth of its European visitors.

European countries used to contribute the majority of the island’s tourists, but growth from that bloc has been severely dented by recession.

China still only ranks No 9 on the list of the island’s top 10 inbound tourism countries. What is even more disheartening is that of the total visitors to the beach-and-sun destination, Chinese tourists contribute only 1 percent.

So, a delegation from Mauritius, including tourism officials, Air Mauritius China, representatives of Mauritian hotels and resort owners, went all out to promote the island nation in Shanghai and Beijing in September.

Over 40 Chinese travel agencies were probed in-depth by the delegation to learn more about the demands of Chinese visitors. The interchange is expected to culminate in an agreement to expand tourist links between the two countries.

Wang Ning, a purchase manager at China CYTS Tours, said that Chinese visitors are increasingly drawn to the island nation with its exotic combination of wild African scenery and French romance. Also, the free-visa policy for Chinese tourists has helped attract more Chinese visitors than ever before.

According to Wang, high-altitude jumping, deep-sea fishing and golf are among the most popular activities for Chinese tourists.

Wang’s company provided services to 1,000 Chinese customers traveling to Mauritius in 2011, and the number jumped to 2,800 in 2012. By the end of September, it received over 4,000 tourists – primarily honeymooners, thought the proportion of family tourists has been increasing in recent years.

Taking a leaf out of the book of the other jewels of the Indian Ocean – Seychelles and Maldives – Mauritius is increasingly tailoring service and business operations to Chinese visitors. And, the efforts by its hospitality industry to customize services to Chinese tourists are finally paying off.

For instance, Lux Resorts, a Mauritian hospitality major which runs high-end resorts, received 2,000 Chinese tourists in 2012, up from about 200 in the past years. While part of the reason for the tenfold increase in tourists from the Asian superpower can be traced back to the opening of a direct flight launched in 2012, the hotel chain has also gone all out to attract Chinese visitors with customized accommodation and cuisine options.

Betting big on Chinese tourists, the group has also opened offices in Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing, with 20 people handling reservations in China. It is also working with 10 Chinese tourist companies to aggressively promote itself to Chinese travelers.

Also, since January, Air Mauritius China has opened three direct flights from Beijing and Shanghai to Mauritius on the premise of a spiral in Chinese tourists. The direct flights ensure that Chinese passengers are not forced to transit through Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia anymore.

Zhang Jian, the general manager of Air Mauritius China, the only airline from Mauritius that operates direct flights to China, notes that while the direct flights have helped them attract more Chinese visitors, whether they would add more direct flights would be dependent on the demands of the marketplace.

Source: China Daily

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