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Irina Appanah, Emotions DMC: "We are waiting for travelers in Mauritius"
Emotions DMC has been arranging holidays in Mauritius for guests from all over the world since 2012 for the entire visit from arrival to departure. It guarantees transfers, 24/7 support during the stay, arranges accommodation on the island, and excursions with guides. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic and international borders' closure was a serious blow to the entire travel business. The company had to reorient services to the locals, develop new tours and excursions, and think about hotel holidays on weekends. Irina Appanah, the company's commercial manager, talked about the situation of business on the island and what will happen when it reopens to guests.
Why Mauritius for life and leisure?
The Republic of Mauritius is one of the most economically developed countries in Africa. It is a calm multinational, and multi-religious country. The island has a well-developed infrastructure, a high level of medicine, a well-developed transport network: convenient bus routes, car rental, and private cabs. Education in Mauritius is internationally recognized. The best students can study in foreign universities at government expense, but after receiving a degree must either return to work in Mauritius or reimburse the state the cost of education.
Any foreign company can easily and quickly open a business in Mauritius. Moreover, a company can have 100% foreign ownership.
What are the advantages of working and doing business in Mauritius?
Mauritius has an attractive tax policy, which is good for both business and investment. Corporate tax is only 15%, and there are many business incentives.
Mauritius combines the traditional advantages of an offshore financial center with jurisdictional provisions based on double taxation treaties, investment promotion and protection agreements. The Government of Mauritius has signed agreements and is signing them with about 46 countries. The value-added tax is also 15%, which is beneficial to business owners and entrepreneurs.
The country has a well-developed infrastructure for starting a business. Many business parks and complexes are formed in the country, offering ready-made real estate to start a business. Any foreign company can easily and quickly open a business. Moreover, a company can have 100% foreign ownership, which is a great advantage for foreign business owners and entrepreneurs.
Other factors that make Mauritius an ideal investment center are its strategic geographical location in the Indian Ocean on the trade route between Europe, Asia, and Africa, and a favorable time zone (GMT +4), a large multilingual pool of skilled labor, modern infrastructure with high-speed Internet access, a modern port and airport.
As for the special benefits of being an employee in Mauritius (under an employment contract), by law, all employees are given a "thirteenth salary" at the end of the year, equal to the full monthly salary.
Are there any open niches for business in Mauritius?
It seems that entertainment is still underdeveloped, especially as far as theaters and concerts are concerned. The cuisine is not fully represented in all countries: for example, there are not many sushi bars yet. Agriculture can be developed. There is high competition in the field of tourism, but now there are no really high-level yachts on the island because obtaining a license is associated with difficulties, which, however, can be overcome. The IT sector is attractive, and the government is trying to attract specialists from this industry.
How did COVID-19 affect the company's work? The coronavirus affected all tourism in Mauritius. In March 2020, Mauritius closed its borders, and since then, tourism has been on a long pause - business has stopped. Our company temporarily refocused its services to the local market to provide Mauritians with leisure activities to spend their vacations in Mauritius due to the border closure. As of October 1, 2020, Mauritius moved to the second stage of opening: with the conditions of a mandatory two-week quarantine in authorized hotels. This, unfortunately, is unattractive for tourists traveling for 2-3 weeks, but acceptable for those willing and able to come for the winter or several months. To attract more long-term travelers, the government of Mauritius has introduced new long-term visas. The free Premium Travel Visa is a super opportunity for those who want to live for a year in a warm country with good infrastructure and work remotely.
How is Mauritius preparing to welcome travelers?
The Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority is doing everything it can to keep tourists interested in the island, and it has not been forgotten as a tourist destination. They've launched the #MauritiusNOW campaign, a website, which has live streaming from 13 webcams all along the coast, filming short interviews with locals and trying to promote the island on social media.
The company, for its part, also keeps partners updated on the island's news. Everyone hopes that a full-fledged opening of the borders without additional conditions will be possible next year, so we need to expand the audience now.
During the border closure, a new, modern, and fully equipped ENT hospital has been built in Mauritius to take care of coronavirus patients. A new state-of-the-art laboratory has been built at Mauritius Airport to perform about 1,000 PCR tests per day for arriving passengers. 8 October 2020 Mauritius Airport has become the first airport in Africa to be accredited by Airport Council International to meet international passenger health and safety requirements. The accreditation is valid for twelve months and can only be renewed following a new assessment of compliance with the airport's measures.
Since April 26, 2020, Mauritius has had no coronavirus cases, and the government is taking appropriate measures to maintain the COVID-free status of the island. In this regard, Mauritius has a mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine rule for passengers arriving before January 15, 2021. This rule may be prolonged, or there will be a relaxation of entry requirements.
What will change in Mauritius for tourists after the pandemic?
There is already a flexible policy of canceling and rescheduling tours due to the pandemic and scheduled flights' instability. Also, all hotels adapt their services to tourists following WHO recommendations: contactless payment, disinfection of rooms, daily temperature checks when entering the restaurant, distance between chairs of neighboring tables more than 1.5 meters, etc.
It will most likely take time to restore the industry to its former level, but Mauritius's level of service will not drop, and Mauritian hospitality is capable of satisfying any guest's wishes. Once the borders are fully open, and flights are restored, we look forward to welcoming more travelers to the island.
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