Tourists in Mauritius: over 80% steer away from hotels

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Tourists visiting our country in ever-increasing numbers have become an integral part of our landscape, blending in our daily lives. But where do these Europeans, Asians and other recurring guests retreat to once they are done getting their tan right on our sandy beaches? If you are thinking of hotels, take another guess. Because, as surprising as this may sound, only under 20% of our tourists stay in our one-to-five-star hotels.

Our influx of travellers has been on the high tide for many years now. Yet, as they came to our shores in even greater numbers as was the case last year – over 120,000 more tourists visited Mauritius as compared to 2015 –, they seem to stray away from the trend of hotel accommodation. Despite better performances in terms of room and bed occupancy rates, our hotels are actually attracting a smaller proportion of incoming tourists. An analysis of Statistics Mauritius 2015-2016 data sets indeed allows for this interesting but none-the-less astonishing finding. Figures indicate that this particular type of accommodation retained only 17.5% of total tourists in 2016, denoting a further 0.2% decrease from the previous year. Even our large hotels, which account for 80% of tourists in hotel, stagnate at a 14.2% retention rate.
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So where are more than four-fifths of our foreign visitors staying at these days? In private villas, inns, guestrooms and, perhaps, the apartment next door. According to Mauritius Tourism and Promotion Authority records, 900 and 152 individuals currently own licenses for tourist residences and guesthouses respectively. These cheaper alternative accommodation services have become popular with our tourists, who are likely seeking more autonomous travel experiences.

With these new stakeholders in the playing field, it is undeniable that hotels across the island are gradually forfeiting their piece of the cake. A 2014 publication by the Axys Group about the Mauritian tourism industry underscored this loss of hotel market share at an annualized rate of 3.6% since 2008. Within this framework, there is a need to review our economic strategies.


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 The increase in the number of hotel rooms to cater for the steady growth in tourist arrivals equates to a rise in employment. At least, this is what former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism Xavier Duval had to say back in 2016: “We hope to have 600 additional rooms per year, with the aim of maintaining our growth.” But judging from statistics, such endeavors may prove barren given the already small fraction of tourists that existing hotels are able to bring to their quarters. And while employment rate official statistics within the tourism sector may fail to account for emerging alternative accommodation providers, these SMEs may very well lead the way to an expanding hospitality industry.

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It is to be observed that the construction of hotel establishments has been stagnant for the past few years. From 112 in 2014 to 115 in 2015, we had 113 hotels at the end of 2016, two of which were closed for renovation works. Yet Mauritius is still able to cater for the growing number of inbound travellers. This other side of the success story of one of our major economic pillars thus raises another question: if the Mauritian layperson is able to drive the tourism industry to some extent, does this not provide an argument against the current land grabbing to turn public beaches into construction sites for yet other –inefficient – luxury hotels?

Authors: Peerally Zainah
                     Liza Bonne
                     Ashish Dabee

(submitted as part of assignment for the module Digital Journalism)

Reference: Statistics Mauritius

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Tea in Mauritius: an industry with potential.

by Samuel  Bathilde and Anoushka Bhugaloo

(submitted as part of assignment for the module Digital Journalism)

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Despite what many articles in Mauritius claim, the tea industry is not disappearing. Even though it is true we had a drastic cut from 1995 to 2000 in the amount of land covered by tea plantations, as from 2000 to 2015, the figures show that land cultivation under tea has been rather stable. Moreover, with the prices steadily rising, this remains a profitable sector for the country and a legacy for future generations.

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The same applies to tea green leaf production even though we note a peak in 2010 at 7400 tonnes.

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However, revenue from tea keeps increasing which shows a tendency in increase in pricing. Thus, with the re-opening of the Dubreuil factory as per the 2016/2017 budget, this revenue is still likely to thrive. Also, the 200 million rupees invested by the Chinese and the company KuanFu Tea which is going to manage the ex-Dubreuil factory seem to herald a new boost in the sector.

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“The tea plants are too old and we need new varieties”

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The tea plant (Camellia Sinensis) which is being used in Mauritius, has been introduced by Father Galloys more than 250 years ago. Mr Ramahotar, the Director of NAPRO, Mr Yannick Lenferna, Factory Director at Bois Cheri and a source from Kuanfu,  remarked that production is adversely affected by the age of the plants and they are waiting for the arrival of new tea varieties which will boost the tea production. Kuanfu Tea have already proposed the introduction of Oolong tea and will be producing both green and black tea.

“Not enough local workers for tea industry but there is the possibility of importing foreign labour  force”

NAPRO, Bois Cheri Tea Factory and Kuanfu Tea all deplored the lack of local labour force when it comes to tea cultivation. While they all agree that the local labour should be prioritized,  they are nevertheless exploring the possibilities of employing foreigners due to local labour shortage for the tea industry.

“Wooton tea plantation cut down partially to build roads”

Mr H. Ramahotar from the National Agricultural Regulatory Office (NAPRO) explained that the tea plantation at Wooton will be cut down partially to build road infrastructure, a work which has already started since a few years back but this is not likely to affect the production of tea. However, many people, especially the usual pilgrims to Grand Bassin fear the younger pilgrim generations will not be able to see the comforting green tea landscape.

Wooton is indeed an important place in the tea sector. For instance, in 1948, a Tea Research Station was set up there and it is also home to the Tea Board which replaced the Tea Control Board, through the Tea Industry Control Act 1975.

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This act also included metayers from private estates under the current Tea Board which had the new powers to determine the price of green leaves for the metayers(those who cultivate lands that are not their own while benefitting from tools and a proportion of the income from the landlord) . For the period 2013 to 2014, there were 879 cultivators with 291 from six cooperatives and 453 metayers which produce 7,826 of green tea leaves.

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So while some minor issues and topsy-turvy exist in the industry, there is still hope for the future. Indeed, we must wait and see the direction the industry takes in the next 10 years at least to see whether this is still a viable industry.

 

References:

Ile Courts 2016 sur le campus

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Le festival international du court métrage Ile Courts est de retour sur le campus de Réduit avec plein de projections, des débats, des ateliers professionnels et une session d’information sur l’industrie du cinéma.

Voici le programme (toutes les séances sont gratuites et ouvertes au public au Lecture Theatre 2)
 

Mardi 11 octobre 

12h30: Lancement de l’accord de coopération Université de Maurice/Porteurs d’Images pour 3 ans. Projection de documentaires engagés sur la sécurité alimentaire, les énergies renouvelables et le changement social. Débats sur les thématiques des documentaires.

 

15h: Shakespeare Animation

 

Mercredi 12 octobre 
12h30: L’amour à la française

 

15h: Courts Bouillon

 

Jeudi 13 octobre
12h30: Focus Afrique

  

15h: Rainbow et Belles. Débat sur les thématiques liées aux LGBT.

 

Vendredi 14 octobre
12h30: Une vague de folie

  

15h: Focus Mozambique

 

Samedi 15 octobre
10h-12h: Session d’information sur les métiers du cinéma
Pour plus d’information sur les projections, voir: http://www.porteursdimages.org/ilecourts/fr/les-projections-2016/

Public talk on data journalism

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What can data do for you?
The power and practicality of data journalism: Inspiring examples from everyday basic news reporting all the way to interactive news apps.

  • Date and time:Tuesday 9th August at 10 a.m.
  • Venue: University of Mauritius – ELT2
  • Entrance: free and open to all

Anina Mumm is a science communication and digital media specialist at ScienceLink, a company she co-founded to help scientists connect with the world, particularly through the use of multi-media story-telling and other innovative digital tools. Anina is also the Chairperson of SciBraai, a proudly South African NPO dedicated to science journalism, communication and outreach, and she is an active member of the South African Science Journalists’ Association.

Ms Mumm will also conduct a special workshop for Journalism Yr 3 students on Tuesday 9th August which will be aimed at producing real data stories, followed by a half-day session on Thursday 18th August to designate the best student data stories. The public talk and workshop are sponsored by Mauritius Telecom.

Black Screen – Africa Film Festival 2016 by Australian High Commission

Blackscreen_Exp_160x250During the Black Screen Africa Film Festival organised by the Australian High Commission, there will be the screening of two films at the University of Mauritius on Saturday 2nd July at 2 pm in Lecture Theatre 2:

Short film: Plains Empty – 27 mins
Dir: Beck Cole – Prod: Kath Shelper – Writ: Beck Cole
A young woman, left largely to her own devices, is drawn into uncovering hidden stories of the past.

Feature film: Jandamarra’s War – 55 mins
Dir: Mitch Torres – Prod: Eileen Torres
Jandamarra’s War is a documentary film that recreates the life of the almost mythic hero from the Bunuba Aboriginal people who led the resistance against colonial power in the Kimberley in the latter part of the 19th century.

Those who still wish to register for the workshop with film director and producer Rachel Perkins, please fill in the form below:

Workshop with Australian film director and film screening

Emailing: 2977zip_31_com.jpg First Australians

The Australian High Commission has approached us for the organisation of the “Mauritius’ first ever Australian Indigenous Film Festival” which they are planning to hold from 30th June to 3rd July.

They will hold a free workshop with renowned film director and producer Rachel Perkins on Thursday 30th June at 1 pm in the Mediacom Studio at the University of Mauritius (2nd floor of Faculty of Agriculture buidling).

During the workshop, she will share her experience as a film director and screen writer and engage in a discussion with participants.

If you are interested to join in for this workshop, please fill in the form below. Seats will be booked on a first come, first served basis. Feel free to share this information as widely as possible.

There will also be a free screening of two films on Saturday 2nd July at 2 pm at the University. More to come soon.