(eTN) – Recent financial market intelligence figures between three key tourism destinations in the Indian Ocean – Seychelles, Maldives, and Mauritius – reveals that for the first quarter ending March 31, 2012, In the first quarter ending March 31, 2012, Seychelles arrivals were up 8.8 percent, Maldives was also up by 3.3 percent, and Mauritius arrivals fell by 0.2 percent.
Although all 3 islands are part of the group known as the Vanilla Islands, each is having their own successes or own challenges.
To coin a new word, tourism has become what is now acceptably called “coopetition.” While competition brings out the best in all tourism players, it is cooperation that will have the most positive effect on tourism as a whole. This is especially true in regions such as the Indian Ocean and on the African continent, where working in partnership and offering twin- and even multi-center approaches in marketing strategies are quite effective in building tourism numbers all around.
Mauritius and Seychelles are both suffering with visitor arrival figures from France, their key tourism market. The Seychelles private sector has claimed that their drop is due to the pull-out of direct non-stop flights from France by Air Seychelles, but Mauritius with its direct non-stop flights are also experiencing drop in visitor arrival numbers from France.
The tourism private sector from Mauritius has been critical of their Tourism Authority (MTPA), and at each of the recent tourism trade fairs, they have been vocal with their dissatisfaction. Seychelles and Maldives, on the other hand, are showing that their tourism approach is working.
The region we assessed has many influential players in the tourism arena. The vocal Karl Mootoosamy of the MTPA of Mauritius has had a good run over the past years. He stepped into the position vacated by a solid tourism planner and a highly-respected Civil Servant. Robert Desvaux is the Chairman of the MTPA, the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority, and Michael Yeung Sik Yuen is the Minister of Tourism and Leisure of Mauritius, with Alain Wong the new Chairman of the Mauritius Tourism Authority.
In the Seychelles, on the other hand, it is Elsia Grandcourt who now heads the Seychelles Tourism Board. She was the understudy of Alain St.Ange, her former CEO, who is now the island’s Minister responsible for Tourism and Culture.
Minister Ahmed Adheed Addul Gafoor is the Maldives Minister responsible for Tourism, Arts and Culture.
Didier Robert, the President of nearby La Reunion Island personally holds the tourism portfolio, and he has Pascal Viroleau as the head of his IRT (La Reunion Island Tourism). Azeddine Bouali is their tourism body’s President. La Reunion also has Michel Lalande, its Prefet, who works tirelessly to defend the island’s economy and its air access possibilities.
Marthinus Van Schalkwyk is South Africa’s Minister responsible for Tourism for the country that speaks volumes in the world of tourism successes in Africa. Kenya has Cecily Mbarire as the Assistant Minister for Tourism with Kitili Mbathi as the Chairman of the Kenya Tourism Board. Zimbabwe has Walter Mzembi as their Minister of Tourism & Hospitality Industry with the known Dr. Bradah Maunganidze as his Permanent Secretary, and Mozambique has Fernando Sumbana Junior as the Minister for Tourism, with Jose Augusto Tomo Psico as President of the National Tourism Institute.
The mainland of Africa remains a natural important asset for the Indian Ocean islands and to different degrees of success, some islands have been better able than others to harness this sitting goldmine. Seychelles coined the “From the Big Five to the Best Five” campaign to piggyback on the ”Big Five” safari photos attractions. This was a perfect togetherness campaign and one that has brought the Southern African Block and the East African Countries and Seychelles closer in marketing initiatives.
Some of the mentioned countries are involved in tourism organizations that bring them together. RETOSA of the SADC Grouping bring many Southern Africa countries together and their next board will be meeting in Seychelles in July. The ICTP, the International Council of Tourism Partners, remains the largest grouping of serious tourism partners after the UNWTO, the UN World Tourism Organization. They will be holding their General Assembly in Seychelles also in July, as will the Vanilla Islands of the Indian Ocean and the Airlines Association of Southern Africa will meet in Seychelles in July all at the same time as Routes Africa 2012 moves to Seychelles to present the tripartite approach to tourism and airline development, with airlines, tourism boards, and civil aviation authorities all working together.
Many of the Ministers mentioned above will be addressing Routes Africa 2012 in Seychelles, as they gather to relook at air access to Africa and the Indian Ocean islands and as they move to look at developing better partnerships and the spirit of “coopetition” among themselves.