Writing as a regular visitor to Mauritius from the UK (and a carnival fan) I’m surprised that MTPA felt the need to copy what it saw – but didn’t want to take part in – over the water in Seychelles.
This was an imported carnival with not very much of a Mauritian flavour – apart from the crowd, which was clearly 98% Mauritian. That’s fine – Mauritian taxpayers paid for all this after all – but I thought the whole idea was to attract foreign tourists.
Perhaps MTPA can tell us exactly how many foreigners came to Mauritius specifically to see the carnival and the Shopping Fiesta. I can’t imagine there were many, because these events were announced just one month before the event, the website was a shambles for several days after that and I didn’t see it promoted over here in the UK. Most of us in Europe book our summer holidays at the beginning of the year, so this should have been promoted from November 2011 onwards.
As for the Shopping Fiesta, I couldn''''t care less about shopping malls. Why should I travel 6,000 miles to see stuff I can buy in London? It''s all made in China, anyway. If you want low prices, go direct to China or India – the flights and hotels there are cheaper too. How on earth can Mauritius compete with Singapore or Dubai for shopping, or Rio, Port of Spain or Notting Hill for carnival?
There is a lot more Mauritius could promote, like its history, culture, music, festivals etc, but MTPA doesn’t seem to think stupid foreigners want anything more than beaches and malls.
If MTPA wants tourism to benefit Mauritius and all Mauritians it should work to get tourists out of the all-inclusive resorts and into the towns, villages and countryside, so they spread their money around the community rather than concentrating it in big, foreign-owned hotels and malls. It could start by sponsoring some decent guidebooks that provide information not just pretty pictures.
What about a good, independent guide to restaurants (with proper reviews of the quality of food, service, ambience etc) a guide to the historic sites – not just the obvious ones, but things like the old sugar mills, the old railway stations and plantation houses (MTPA may not believe it, but many visitors really are interested in these things) a guide to the markets (locations, dates, what they sell, what to look out for and what to avoid) a calendar of events a guide to the state-run museums a guide to all the amazing religious and cultural festivals and events – the list goes on. Unlike beauty contestants these sorts of initiatives won’t provide any photo opportunities for the minister, but their impact will last a lot longer.
Above all, Mauritius needs to promote what is UNIQUELY MAURITIAN. And if the MTPA and Ministry of Tourism don''t know what that is, I suggest they start asking real tourists.