After the Michaela Harte event, the number of tourists from Europe had decreased drastically. That was back in 2011 and 2012. The situation now seems to have improved, with an increasing number of British tourists – the trend looks promising enough.
Tourism has been one the economic pillars of the island for some years now. The tourist sector was mostly dominated by tourists arriving from Europe, which constitutes our traditional market. Europeans would find a certain appeal to Mauritius that would attract them to what they call the ‘Paradise Island’ in great numbers. However, the number of tourists greatly declined after the murder of an Irish tourist in 2011 – the Michaela Harte affair proved to be negative publicity for the country. While the number of British tourists would be at a staggering 132 551 in 2008, it decreased by much to 87 648 in 2012. The British newspapers even had articles about how Mauritius is not so safe a tourist destination. The Telegraph had entitled one such article “We’re not even safe in paradise”.
However, statistics now show that the situation is improving quite much. The repercussions of the Michaela Harte affair seem to subside. 2013 has witnessed an increase in tourists from the United Kingdom after the previous decline – more than 100 000 British tourists arrived last year. From the beginning of 2014, an increase of 8.1 % has been observed, with 39437 tourists. While this seems promising enough, tourists arriving from France have undergone a decrease of 4.1 % for the first five months of this year (2014).
The Minister of Tourism, Michael Sik Yuen, is positive about the increases of British tourists. He says that this trend will be maintained for the rest of the year, now that the Dreamliner of Thomson Airways is also making journeys from the UK to Mauritius since April of this year. Furthermore, the current flourishing situation greatly encourages Air Mauritius and British Airways to include additional seats in their airplanes to accommodate for the growing number of tourists. Even tour-operators in the UK are advertising Mauritius as the ideal tourist destination, further boosting the Mauritian tourist sector. The aim of the authorities now is to fuel this state of affairs further. The next step will be launched soon, in November: during the tourism fair held in the UK, the World Travel Market, Mauritius will be portrayed as the “ultimate destination of choice”. It is to be noted that Mauritius had received the Consumers’ Price on the market.
While everything seems to be going the desired way, a senior lecturer from the university of Mauritius, Dr Robin Nunkoo, specialised in Management, advises for careful steps to be taken. According to him, in the long-term, British tourists might not be as many as they are now, because of the long-distance travel that could discourage them from making the journey to the island in the long run.