And so, a nano virus brought the mighty world on its knees… From Shanghai to San Francisco and from New York to New Zealand, we all felt it. Politicians became medical analysts, restaurants became takeaways, hotels became ghost towns, travel luxury became travel liability, the private sector became semi-public, globalization became localization, office rooms became office zooms and yes, warm greetings became cautious nods. Wow… did it really happen?
And so, where do we start from here? We dogmatically try to find our feet, our comfort zones, our comfort habit and our comfort hopes. In our beloved island, we dream of our old normality whilst living the new normal. We believed if we work hard enough, we will have the revenue to pay our daily bills and run a decent life. It should be the same world, should it not? And yet the clouds are dark and heavy, money is getting scarce, people won’t fly overnight, hotels won’t reach full throttle so soon, the dollar is bullish, inflation can only rise, the consumption power is dwindling. So where does this leave us?
The answer maybe lies in the power of humanity. Sometimes, when you have all or a lot, the fear of losing is so high that reasonable risks and bets are not assumed, and opportunities go by. In contrast, when you have nothing or not much, the human being is relieved from the burden of material wealth and he transcends across challenges to fulfill his potential and even better raise the potential bar.
So, when you have a lovely island such as Mauritius, with great empty beaches and a tainted offshore center, with increasingly non profitable sugar prices, where do you start? Well, you scan the landscape to find what you are good at, all the way from scratch, and build again from ground zero. You knew and you know the road and off you go in that journey of success.
The first beauty spot of the island is still the island itself. It is still a bit of paradise. And even better, it became more beautiful during the 60-day remake. There is a story here, a story of protecting the green from the greed. This is an opportunity to be tougher with our beach laws, food laws and leisure laws. Bring in urban or leisure planners on how to protect the blue of the ocean eco-system, the white of the magnificent beaches and the green of the beloved beach trees. We should all enjoy it but we should first learn and be taught how to enjoy it. And from that story, we bring in the under-utilized hotel resorts with a common story string, we leap in the ancestral legends of pirates and we create an intense storyline, pitch, brand of quality, of dreams and of aspiration.
This message and storyline will become the brand of marketing of our island. Free from viruses, free from pollution, free from human excesses, yes, it will be simply free like our chirping kestrels and paille-en-queues. We will go back premium like when we started. We cannot do full-board and low cost anymore. We shift premium and value added quality. We won’t get the one million plus tourists but yes, we will get great international spend. Yes, we will lose the short term gains, we will have to legislate our airbnb standards and even our hotels, but the uplift from zero in the short term being virtually nil, we might as well invest whilst we have the perspective and aim for the stars in the medium term.
With that positioning, we can rope in the stars of today. They will be a new set of engagement leaders. Gone are the old rock stars and in are the bloggers, the Netflix serial acting leads and yes, bring in the premiership football stars and raise the profile of our football academies creating delightful and beautiful combinations of sun/beach/rest with sun/beach/soccer training and sun/beach/medical cure. Let us define these strategies under the broader umbrella of the unique green island which we were, and we are.
The story tickles the emotions, tickles the mind and tickles beautifully the bucket list of many a traveler. Let us take this 720 square mile island and start planning it in a systematic strategic way with parts segments and yet reinforcing and uplifting our story. Let us use our beautiful villages and town names and perfume our island with the dreams, the intrigues, the romance, the fears, the mystique stories behind each and every name.
With this storyline and this richness of stories, we can have a powerful stand-out message which all Mauritius reinforces towards the world. It’s something deep, something powerful, something intense, not some gimmick catch phrase, not some dummy cliché. No, nothing like that, it’s the story of you and me, the story of us, the story of how we all worked together in all our walks of life to create something unique. The story of us, the story of the little green island in the middle of the deep blue sea. Yes, the new story of Mauritius, built on the legends of our island.