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Tourism in Mauritius : Reviving the cruise industry

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Tourism in Mauritius : Reviving the cruise industry

Mauritius Port Authority will inaugurate a new cruise terminal in Port Louis in November 2023.

Developing tourism in Mauritius through a cruise port

Known for its resorts, Mauritius is now venturing into the cruise tourism sector. The island nation anticipates significant growth with the construction of its brand-new cruise terminal in Port Louis. This construction plays a key role in transforming Mauritius into a renowned international destination. This new cruise terminal aims to position Mauritius as a primary homeport. It serves as a preferred stopover and even a central hub for inter-island travels in the Indian Ocean.

The installation of this cruise pier will greatly improve visitor management and elevate the level of service provided to passengers in Port Louis. The port facility offers high-quality embarkation and disembarkation infrastructure, as well as easy access to local tourist attractions. The new facility will cover 7,500 square meters and accommodate 4,000 daily passengers. It is one of the largest in the Indian Ocean region. With this new port, Mauritius plans to surpass its record of 40 cruise calls in 2018. In 2023, between ship passages and welcomes, the country expects a total of 24 cruises. Among these 24 ships, at least 24,000 passengers are expected to land on the island. The Mauritius Ports Authority aims to attract more cruise ships as the port of origin. Before the pandemic, Port Louis Harbor hosted ships from AIDA Cruises, Costa Cruises, and Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines. With AIDA’s return for a welcoming season in 2023-24, the country is also expected to host cruise calls from several global companies, including:

  • MSC Cruises
  • Cunard
  • Hapag Lloyd
  • Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Princess Cruises
  • Ponant
  • Phoenix Reisen
  • Holland American Line
  • Silversea Cruises
  • Seabourn

Tourism in Mauritius: An opportunity for investment

Mauritius, a globally renowned destination, appeals to both visitors and investors seeking profits. The local government encourages tourism investments by offering tax benefits, grants, and administrative simplifications.

Tourist flow and cruise industry

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, cruise tourism in Mauritius was flourishing. During the 2016-2017 season, Port Louis recorded 24 cruise ships carrying around 35,000 passengers. The sector reached its peak in 2019-2020 with 45 calls and 53,000 passengers. However, due to the health and climate crisis, the 2022 season only saw 8 ships and 5,692 passengers. In the first half of 2023, Statistics Mauritius recorded 7,161 cruisers in Mauritius. For the 2023 season, the island expects visits from 21 cruise ships.

The tourism sector follows this trend with an expected 1.27 million to 1.32 million tourists in 2023, according to the MTPA. This represents a recovery rate of 93.6 % compared to 2019 data. The recovery of the European market and the emergence of new markets, such as the Middle East, are the driving forces behind growth. Burthoo-Barah Bhaskarsingh, Operational Planning Analyst at the Mauritius Port Authority, assures that the cruise industry in the Indian Ocean region is promising. Thanks to the emergence of high-potential markets such as South Africa, India, China, and Australia, the cruise sector is experiencing significant growth.

Mauritius: Many tourists appreciate the natural setting

Mauritius’ tourist assets lie in its rich ecosystem, lush vegetation, wildlife, and breathtaking landscapes. Its turquoise waters and crystal-clear lagoons provide a magnificent contrast with the rest of the scenery. This creates an environment conducive to investments in hospitality, dining, and recreation.

Tourist attractions

Akin to a tropical paradise, Mauritius boasts a range of tourist attractions, must-see sites, and cultural places. The island’s capital, Port Louis, features a cosmopolitan urban style. Its architecture bears the imprint of France and Great Britain, with Muslim and Indian quarters along with a charming Chinatown. The North Coast is the most popular, teeming with must-see sites and offering a variety of hotels of different categories. The West Coast is renowned for its resorts in Flic-en-Flac and white sandy beaches. In addition to water activities, the island also offers cultural sites, such as the « Adventure of Sugar » museum.

Vanilla Islands, Inter-Island cruise tourism

As a member of the Vanilla Islands association since its creation in 2010, Mauritius plans to invigorate this approach to promote cruise tourism. This is an ambitious project focused on promoting ecotourism, coastal tourism, and ecological tourism. The Vanilla Islands have been successful, enriching travel catalogs. An interesting alternative to traditional tourism, this combined cruise circuit offers various excursions at each stop, helping boost cruise arrivals in the Indian Ocean islands. The Vanilla Islands have welcomed several cruise companies such as AIDA, Costa Cruises, Silversea Cruise Liner, and Fred Olsen.

From time to time, Port Louis welcomes luxury cruise ships, such as the Queen Mary and the Queen Elizabeth. The Indian Ocean islands offer a beautiful alternative to traditional vacations with the opportunity to explore each of the Vanilla Islands.

Impact of tourism in Mauritius

The lifting of travel restrictions and supportive policies for the tourism sector have led to tourism’s recovery. This recovery contributes to real GDP growth in Mauritius, reaching 8.7 % in 2022 compared to 3.4 % in 2021. GDP growth is expected to increase by 5.0 % in 2023 and 4.2 % in 2024 thanks to tourism.

Tourist revenues

In 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, tourism accounted for 19.5% of the island’s GDP and generated more than 100,000 jobs. However, in 2020, the contribution of tourism dropped to 8.3% of GDP, and then to only 4.6% in 2021. According to Statista, Mauritian tourism revenues dropped from 1.89 billion EUR to 453.51 million EUR in 2020, representing a depreciation of 75%. Gradually, the tourism sector in Mauritius is recovering. Tourists are extending their stays, averaging 14 days currently compared to 9 days before the pandemic.

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