Tourism has become Reunion’s mainstay and the results speak for themselves


(Posted 28th February 2017)

Details of tourist arrivals for 2016 are now out for the French Indian Ocean island of Reunion, and the comparison with 2015 look good as expected. The year 2016 has been an extremely successful year for Reunion Island tourism after a job well done by Reunion Tourism to promote the island with the new marketing and communication initiatives. Indeed, the strategic repositioning of Destination Réunion, coupled with numerous promotional and sales activities on the island, is the result of the strategic decisions turned into action.

Reaching for the second year a new rise of tourist arrivals with 458,261 tourists coming to the island, this was generating tourist receipts valued at 325.3 million euros for the economy of Reunion.

This growth marks a real dynamism of the attractiveness of the island which, since the record year of reference of 2011 with 471,300 tourist arrivals and after a constant decline until 2013, has been increasing again since 2014.

The trend in performance by market

For the island, metropolitan France remains the market leader with 80.7% of market share and it appears that this market remains as promising and responsive for the future too. Key changes in market attendance were:

France: + 15.5% (369,309 tourists);
Belgium: + 21% (over 9,800 tourists);
Europe: + 1.3% (36,463 tourists);
Mauritius: + 7.3% (21,574 tourists).

This evolution is the result of three main points identified:

A Regional Tourism Committee (IRT) which remains very active in terms of promotion and communication.
An air capacity to Reunion which develops and which responds to a tourist demand that is created by the destination Reunion and its actors.
A difficult international environment that encourages tourists to favor "stable and secure" destinations .

A winning diversification strategy

The IRT strategy coupled with the work of tourism professionals has made it possible to clearly identify the type of clientele going to the island, ensuring a number of European countries in strong growth mode over the year 2016 . The integration of the marketing model based on the four pillars of emotion, experience, exclusivity and commitment and aims to develop the island’s unique reputation in the various target markets.

The Réunion destination is equipped with an iconic identity mark to develop a strong image in order to serve the objectives of tourism economic development. It is a question of being able to experiment and rely on local forces in order to protect our market share and acquire new ones, accentuating efforts to improve the quality of reception and innovation.

Thus, while the island’s main customer base remains the continental France with 369,309 tourists, in 2016 a 15.5% increase is observed for other markets compared to 2015. In parallel with these good results, the trend is the same for European and world wide customers.

These results reinforce the promotion activities carried out in these markets, namely:

The organization of educational activities and the reception of a hundred of travel agents on invitational tours;
The setting up of around forty dedicated press trips ;
Organizing fifteen workshops, training more than a hundred travel agents.

The destination must continue on the path of diversification of clienteles.

Regarding markets in the Indian Ocean zone, the undisputed leader remains the Mauritian market with 21,574 tourists, a growth of 7.3% .

As for the South African market however is the number of tourists still too low to be statistically reliable.

In 2016, leisure tourists were 396,795 , an increase of 10.5% compared to 2015 . Moreover, as for business tourists, they were 52,457 to stay on the island i.e. an increase of 5.5% .

Primary accommodation

The main mode of accommodation, "among relatives and friends" dominates with 224,076 tourists and grew by 11% . In the "merchant accommodation" modes, the hotel industry grew by 0.4% with 101,241 tourists . The rentals, with 66,561 tourists, also rose by 0.4% .

Household composition and length of stay

The business tourists stay 13.3 days ;
The leisure tourists are 18.3 days .

Tourism revenue up

The tourism receipts are estimated at 325.7 million euros .

Among the main expenses:

Expenditure on accommodation accounted for 41.7% of total expenditure, ie € 133.7 million ;
The item related to car rental (55 million euros) represents 16.9% of total expenses;
Expenditure on catering represents 15.8% and amounts to 51.3 million euros .

In conclusion

The year 2016 was an intense tourist year marked by:

The increase in tourism revenues ;
The increase in foreign tourists ;
A good end of season with a very good month of December ;
Tourists who say they appreciated the welcome, the tourist destination ( more than 98% of tourists say they are satisfied or very satisfied ).

The data from the survey of visitor arrivals in 2016 are the results of surveys carried out at the airports of La Réunion by the MTA design office.
MTA has been a consulting firm specializing in the world of air transport since 1992, working mainly in metropolitan France, Europe and the Caribbean.
He has carried out the Visavion surveys for the Nice Côte d’Azur CRT since 2013, as well as numerous surveys for the Nice, Bordeaux, Paris, Marseille and other airports.

For more information about Destination Reunion click on

1 Comment

  1. In Uganda, we are missing the points joined by Reunion to make tourism work successfully. There is more to be done to attract tourists to this beautiful country of incredible wildlife, amazing landscapes and cultures.