MAURITIUS’ TOURISM PUBLIC SECTOR IN TATTERS
(Posted 03rd January 2014)
Mauritius – It’s a Pleasure surely does not enter the mind of the island’s tourism minister Michael Sik Yuen tonight, who was unceremoniously dumped as a party member by the Social Democratic Party of Mauritius. Relations between his erstwhile political home and himself had become strained and when he last year sacked the Chairman of the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority, who was and remains a close confidante to party leader and Deputy Prime Minister Duval, his dismissal was already expected back then. What sections of the island’s tourism industry had in fact expected was the replacement of the CEO of MTPA, but this latest development on being expelled from his party, suggests an alliance of sorts, by choice or by necessity for both to hang on to their jobs.
Sik Yuen, according to a regular source from Port Louis, Mauritius’ capital city, has reportedly vowed to stay in office as a minister nevertheless, as he can only be dismissed by the Prime Minister himself, to whom he has now apparently turned offering his support as a member of parliament, though now without any party affiliation.
This turn of events only affirms what many local Mauritian tourism stakeholders have suggested for long, that the entire set up of the public sector, especially the main actors involved like the Minister and the CEO of the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority Karl Mootoosamy, need to be replaced and fresh blood brought on board to rescue the tourism industry from a period of declining arrival numbers and sinking standing and reputation in key overseas markets, where the most recent attempts to showcase Mauritius were generally perceived as a copy and paste job of the successful recipe conjured up by the Seychelles Tourism Board. From copying the Seychelles Carnival, which in Mauritius in the end was transformed into a shopping festival, failed for that matter, to the attempt to copy SUBIOS – the Festival of the Sea celebrated by the Seychelles for decades already, to the Festival Kreol copycat more recently all suggests that ideas have run dry in Mauritius and a full revival of the island’s tourism fortunes now need a decisive overhaul, as it was done by the way in the Seychelles starting from 2008 onwards, with astonishing results of sharp annual growth rates and a global marketing juggernaut second to none. Watch this space as this sordid saga is no doubt continuing for some more time.