Following almost two years of lockdown and border closures, the pent-up desire from South Africans to travel to Mauritius is stronger than ever with the arrival of 33,601 passengers between January and May 2022.
Compared to the 2019 figure of 41,811 for the same period this is an extremely positive bounce-back. The arrival figures for April and May 2022, at 10,965 and 7,338 respectively, are up by a few hundred against the 2019 numbers of 10,089 and 7,883 for the two months, This is a strong signal that the destination is recovering and the remainder of the year should see further growth.
“It is encouraging to see the arrivals numbers from South Africa to Mauritius for the first five months of 2022 rivalling those of pre-Covid 2019, and we expect this positive and upward trend to continue through the year and into 2023. We continue to work hard to promote this destination to our key markets globally, of which South Africa is a very important one,” says Arvind Bundhun, Director of Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority (MTPA).
With Mauritius announcing a further easing of Covid restrictions from 01 July in response to its successful vaccination campaign and resultant low infection rate, the requirement for wearing facemasks will be relaxed, except in public areas such as hospitals, port, airport and public transport. Moreover, upon arrival, tests for vaccinated and unvaccinated passengers have been waived.
“We are extremely pleased to note that we have reached a milestone of over half a million visitors since 01 October. I am confident that our post-pandemic recovery is well underway and, with the easing of sanitary measures, bookings for the second half of 2022 will be stimulated,” says Bundhun.
Among the top source markets for Mauritius, South Africa is currently sitting in third position behind France and the UK and ahead of Germany and Reunion, which make up the top five markets.
Talking to the trade
This year has seen a busy start to the marketing activities put in place to ensure Mauritius remains a destination of choice for the South African market, with attendance at physical trade shows and face-to-face meetings in both the leisure and business/MICE sectors after two years.
A successful national roadshow in February saw 18 Mauritius partners interacting with travel agents in Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg. This was followed by a very productive time at Meetings Africa in March, where MTPA shared its stand with eight Mauritius partners. Exhibition space at ILTM Africa and Africa’s Travel INDABA in April and May ensured a strong presence for the destination at both these major annual travel expos.
An exciting marketing campaign, “Secret Mauritius”, kicked off in April to highlight some of the island’s hidden gems. The campaign includes a collaboration with Mauritius-based international photographer and writer Paul Choy, who shared images capturing 20 off-the-beaten-track locations in Mauritius. His gallery of stunning images, Paul Choy’s Secret Mauritius, is featured on www.ratherbeinmauritius.co.za.
In addition to the photography, popular TV presenter and actor Jonathan Boynton-Lee visited Mauritius to film six short videos for a YouTube series, Secret Mauritius with Jonathan Boynton-Lee. Every two weeks over the next two months a new video will be released on YouTube and www.ratherbeinmauritius.co.za, documenting his experiences while spending ten days on the island discovering some of Paul Choy’s recommended ‘secret’ locations.
Arrivals on the rise
The growth in arrivals to Mauritius from South Africa is testament to the fact that this island paradise remains a holiday destination of choice for families and friends, couples, wedding parties and honeymooners, sports enthusiasts, adventure-seekers and groups of all sizes.
Just a short, four-hour flight from Johannesburg on Air Mauritius, SAA or FlySafair, and with no visa or PCR test requirements, the wide selection of accommodation options and tourist attractions, packaged with the variety of cultural, culinary and sporting activities on offer, ensures that Mauritius remains a destination of choice for South African travellers.
“Mauritius offers something for everyone. Beyond the beautiful sea, white sandy beaches and luxurious resorts is an island rich in diversity and adventure that is waiting to be explored. As a melting pot of exotic cultures, the sights, sounds, tastes and experiences one unearths in Mauritius are completely unique, offering visitors a truly immersive travel experience that one usually associates with long-haul destinations,” says Bundhun.