The recent announcement by the chairman of the Mauritius small hotels association Mr. Bissoon Mungroo, that occupancies amongst member hotels were now at a record low of in average less than 40 percent, constituting a significant drop compared to the previous years performance, sent shockwaves through the tourism fraternity in Mauritius.
In his announcement Mr. Mungroo also expressed a growing sentiment of disenchantment with the work done by the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority. MTPA is headed by the embattled Karl Mootoosamy, whose lack of good fortune, absence of a significant vision for promoting the island and instead in the recent past opting to lock horns with tourism leaders of other Indian Ocean islands piled pressure on him to resign or else be replaced.
Mr. Mungroo also decried the high airfares from the main markets in Europe, a thinly concealed hint that more needs to be done to open up the skies and partner with key international airlines and progressively remove the protective elements for Air Mauritius still in place, but now seen as a major cause for keeping airfares up and visitor numbers too low. In the announcement Mr. Mungroo also pointed to competing islands in the Indian Ocean region which he used as an example of inspired leadership, a working partnership between private and public sector and total government support to the tourism industry. He went on to reflect that there a visionary campaign to open up new and emerging markets and the impact of an open sky policy on arrival numbers worked in favour of those islands while Mauritius went backwards. He demanded that change was needed in the way tourism promotion was mapped out, echoing the growing chorus of voices demanding that time surely must be up now for Mr. Karl and his team at MTPA. Watch this space.