Tourism in Mauritius

Tourism in Mauritius

Tourism in Mauritius tends to be high end tourism, with a focus on coastal resorts and diving.

Tourist numbers

In the past thirty years, Mauritius has developed from a low-income economy based on agriculture to a middle-income diversified economy. Much of this economic growth has been the result of the expansion of the luxury tourism sector. Mauritius is one of Africa's wealthier countries, and its economy is mainly dependent on the sugar, textiles, and tourism industries. As world sugar prices have declined and the production of textiles has become economically unfeasible, the tourist industry is being concentrated on. Tourist policy in Mauritius promotes elite and specialist tourism because of the limited space available for tourism and the need to maximise income while minimizing environmental impact. Low budget tourism in not encouraged. Preferring high-end tourism, the Mauritian government promotes boutique luxury hotels, 4 and 5 stars beach resorts, golf courses, and spas and beauty centres.cite web |url= |title=Travel and tourism in Mauritius |accessdate=2008-06-17 |work=Euromonitor |date=September 2007 ] Tourism is directed primarily at the high-spending European market.cite book |title=Mauritius: Challenges of Sustained Growth |last=Sacerdoti |first=Emilio |coauthors=Gamal Zaki El-Masry, Padamja Khandelwal |year=2005 |publisher=International MonetaryFund |isbn=158906416X |pages=35-36 ]

Mauritius had about 18,000 visitors in 1970.cite book |title=This is Mauritius |last=Mountain |first=Alan |coauthors=Alain Proust |year=2000 |publisher=Struik |isbn=1843303019 |pages=27 ] Between 1985 and 2000 the size of its tourism sector, measured by the increase in tourist arrivals, grew by approximately 340%. Tourist arrivals in 2004 were almost 720,000. Tourism created 30,000 full time job equivalents in 2000. Tourists are primarily European, mainly French and British. Mauritius tends to be a high cost tourist destination. Air travel and accommodation are relatively expensive. Most tourists are on package holidays; there is very little independent travel or backpacking. To promote up-market tourism, charter flights have been banned, the resort hotels have been built to high standards and there are high standards of cuisine and service. There are direct flights from Britain and South Africa.cite book |title=Worldwide Destinations: The Geography of Travel and Tourism |last=Boniface |first=Brain G. |coauthors=Christopher P. Cooper |year=2001 |publisher=Butterworth-Heinemann |isbn=0750642319 |pages=252 ]

The amount of resorts clustered in parts of the coastline is increasing, despite concerns about pollution and damage to coral reefs. Policy in the country has generally been to regulate contact between Mauritians society and tourists because of concerns about cultural and social problems.cite book |title=Architecture and Tourism: Perception, Performance and Place |last=Lasansky |first=D. Medina |coauthors=Brian McLaren |year=2004 |publisher=Berg Publishers |isbn=1859737099 |pages=189-190 ]

Tourist attractions

Its tourist attractions are its environment, with white beaches, sea, and warm climate; the friendliness of the Mauritians; and its political and social stability. Mauritius is surrounded by 33 km of coastline. It has excellent beaches, climate, and marine life. There are submarine dives for tourists and an undersea walk.

It is a world class diving destination. It is surrounded by 150 km of fringing coral reefs, with two breaks in the west and south. The lagoon between the shore and the peripheral fringing reefs has an extent of between 0.2 and 7 km. The lagoon's depth is between 1 and 6 m. There are about 340 species of fish, many of them endemic. About 160 species of Scleractinian corals have been identified around the country. Tourism has damaged the reefs. Diving conditions are best in the summer, from December to March. This period is generally hot, wet, and humid, and there are occasional cyclones. The average air temperature is 30°C.cite book |title=New Frontiers in Marine Tourism: Diving Experiences, Sustainability, Management |last=Garrod |first=Brian |coauthors=Stefan Gossling |year=2007 |publisher=Elsevier |isbn=0080453570 |pages=18, 72-73 ] There are a large variety of dive sites for people of all abilites in Mauritius. The main dive centres are located in and around Grand Baie, Flic en Flac, Blue Bay, and Belle Mare.cite book |title=Mauritius, Réunion & Seychelles |last=Dodd |first=Jan |coauthors=Madeleine Philippe |year=2004 |publisher=Lonely Planet |isbn=1740593014 |pages=131-132 ]

Undersea walks are an unusual tourist activity where participants wear a diving helmet and weight belt so that they walk along the sea bed and feed the fish. Oxygen is piped down from the surface to the participants. The prime locations for this activity are Grand Baie and Belle Mare.


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