Speech of the Deputy Prime Minister Xavier-Luc Duval at the Hotel Star Award Ceremony

27.01.2015 – L’Aventure du Sucre, Pamplemousses

Tonight is a great moment for the hotel industry.

When some months ago I announced that we would proceed with an official classification of hotels it could have sounded like an “effet d’annonce”. But we really meant it. And tonight it has become a reality.

I would like to thank the Chairman of the TA, Mr Robert Desvaux, the members of the Rating Committee, Mr Sen Ramsamy director of the TA and his staff

It is a wonderful example of collaboration between the private and the public sector

The aim is to encourage the constant improvement our product offering, of which hotels play a major part. Our objective is that Mauritius becomes unbeatable as an island holiday destination and surpasses every other island competitor.

The equation is relatively simple... We compete with our neighbors. Some are great destinations with nice beaches, lagoons, hotels. As far as the rest is concerned, i.e. the interior, the activities, the casinos, horseracing, shopping, night life, restaurants etc, we are in a category of our own...Neither Seychelles nor the Maldives can compete...

By the way, we have to be justly proud when no less an organization than TripAdvisor has voted Mauritius as the 8th most beautiful island in the world, beating world famous Bora Bora into 9th place. And it’s about to become even more beautiful...

We are giving special attention to 3 areas I mentioned: lagoons, beaches and our hotel sector.

We will pursue our efforts to reduce pressure on our lagoons. No commercial boat licenses for activities inside lagoons will be issued, except for authentic boats. The Pereybère lagoon is now boat free. Mon Choisy lagoon will also be boat free as from the end of next month and after that Flic en Flac will follow.

Safety will be improved as well as the protection of marine ecosystem. This will also allow greater enjoyment by the public.

We have already spent billions of rupees on waste water management. And we will pursue our efforts to replenish our coral reefs. Regular inspection of our public beaches and upgrading works will ensure they remain clean and user friendly and will prevent erosion.

As for our hotels, the moratorium of two years will help rebalance supply and demand, and give breathing space for refurbishment and renovation of existing properties. From a buyers’ market, we believe the hotel sector has moved to a sellers’ market.

To pursue our efforts, we now have a new tool at our disposal. A tool that will enable us to constantly encourage hotels to maintain their standards. Generally they are world class establishments. But hotels need to constantly improve and indeed upgrade their standards.

The great majority of hotels are satisfied with their star rating, delivered by a totally independent committee.

Those who are disappointed must understand why the committee has decided so and quickly remedy, re-apply. The aim is to encourage the hotels to seek a higher rating.

In some cases, the premises are good but the service quality is poor or in other cases the service quality is good but the premises have not been properly maintained and renovated. And one or two might be over pretentious

So, the hotel industry is definitely turning a new page tonight.... It is becoming more exciting than ever to be part of the tourism industry.

What can we expected this year? We did very well last year, I would like to thank all stakeholders for their efforts.

Some voices have been heard about the air access policy... It’s considerable over simplification.

128,000 additional Passengers have landed at SSR Airport in 2015. The total number of tourists was 1,150,000. Of these only a net of 11,000 passengers were carried by airlines which did not enjoy similar landing rights in 2014. Turkish Airlines, TUI from Poland and Scandinavia, and Air Mauritius from Chengdu. We did enjoy the full year effect of the Emirates A380 flights.

On the other hand, point to point, we welcomed 18000 additional passengers from Shanghai and Beijing, 16,000 from Reunion, 9000 from France, 8000 from South Africa, to name but a few countries. All these airlines were already operating in 2014. The Air Access policy has an important role to play. But it is only a part of the solution.

The majority of the increase in arrivals represents increased demand for our island destination. Which is in itself the combined efforts of all of you here tonight.

It is also important to note that both Lufthansa and Austrian airlines obtained landing rights many years ago and decided to actually operate flights only this year.

And now, what about the future?

2016 is a year of consolidation...where we add to last year’s foundation:

Security – food security, security at sea or physical security - will remain at the forefront of our actions. Be it at the airport, at sea or anywhere in Mauritius, the security of our visitors must remain of paramount importance. I urge hotels to provide the utmost security and in particular to ensure that the perimeter of the hotel is protected at all times to prevent unwanted intruders.

Another important aspect is authenticity. Tourism contributes 7% of GDP and directly employs some 29,000 people out of a total workforce of 600,000 people. Tourism is one of many economic sectors. For this reason Mauritius remains an authentic destination, un-spoilt by mass tourism. Let us showcase our wonderful culture - cuisine, music, religions - and indeed our values to the rest of the world.

Eliminating the low season is an objective. Mauritius has the potential to have a 12 month tourism season. Last year we proved that eliminating the low season is possible. We will pursue and consolidate our previous initiatives by reinforcing our presence in counter seasonal markets such as China, India, the Middle East and indeed the African Continent.

In the winter season we will actively develop golf tourism (with our Golf Pass), kite surfing, diving and other sporting activities. Similarly the Family Fun Adventure Program will be consolidated this year to offer seasonally reduced rates to our visitors comprising accommodation, and every single activity and excursion in Mauritius, through this time the issue of a Dodo Pass to our guests.

Cruise tourism has taken an upward trend and we expect to double the number of tourists who engage in Indian Ocean cruises this year. And of course we will continue to support the Mice market, large weddings, the honeymoon market, to name but a few.

Going forward, and at the end of our moratorium on hotel openings in December, we need to plan for the opening of 3 or 4 hotels annually to continue our progress in a phased manner consistent with the high reputation of our hotel industry.

Let me end by congratulating all our hoteliers, the shareholders, management and our great workforce for the quality of your establishments.

Thank You for your attention.

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