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All these form a powerful force of attraction - an invitation to travel. Mauritius location 20 S ; 56 E offers all of them. It is considered as an exotic, long haul beach destination. Figure 1 gives an idea of the monthly weather characteristics in Mauritius.
Throughout the year, there is a predominance of fine, sunny and comfortable weather with average temperatures ranging from 22 degrees celsius to 33 degrees celsius. On an average, there are about days with favourable weather conditions for tourists in Mauritius. The Mauritius Tourist Office was set up in l and our National airline -Air Mauritius started operation one year prior to independence i.
Tourism was integrated into the strategic development plan of Mauritius in the years following independence. Figure 2 illustrates clearly the rapid development of tourism in Mauritius from the year of independence l to date.
In the seventies, tourism registered an appreciable growth rate, with tourist arrivals increasing from 27 in l to ll5 in l, i.
In the eighties, tourism was given a further boost and the tourist flow increased in absolute terms by around l80 during that decade. After l, the number of tourist arrival crossed the mark of , and the figure of was reached in Today, tourism is a vital sector of the national economy. Because tourism is viewed as one of the main sectors contributing to the expansion of the Mauritian economy, the volume of tourist arrival will continue increasing in the years ahead of us.
Apart from the favourable tropical maritime climate, the foundation of our success in tourism is the natural scenic beauty of the island, its beaches and its marine environment. Mauritius has a coastline of About Almost all the hotels have developed along the coast where attractive beaches are available.
In l, hotel complexes occupied l0km 3. This figure tripled itself to 30km i. The rapid proliferation of bungalows has gone hand in hand with tourist development. In l, bungalows with direct access to the beach occupied some 51 km of coast l6. Tourism is considered to be a predator of territories and culture as it is the biggest consumer of natural resources. In Mauritius, almost all activities linked with tourism are concentrated along the coast especially along the 30 km of the best beaches of the island.
In other cases, hotels are springing up along beaches which were not being utilized by the public. Is there a system of coordination and cooperation between the Mauritian authorities and the Mauritian hotel groups to achieve objectives related to cultural and environmental conservation? Is there an ecologically rational and culturally sustainable tourism programme in the island? Is there a partnership between decision makers in the field of tourism and those responsible for culture and environment in Mauritius?
Is hotel development at Balaclava ecologically bearable and socially acceptable? How do we go about to calculate the optimal carrying capacity for tourism in Mauritius? The government has since come to realize that: 1 one of the surest ways of guarding against any potential negative impact would be to continue to insist on the promotion of selected tourism attracting categories of informed tourists who are not insensitive to the context of the tourist destination which they visit rather than the holiday crowd concept.
Unfortunately, the term has been misused and abused by many hotel promoters and individuals who form part of the decision makers in the field of tourism developments. In order to help conserve and in certain cases save our environment - physical, natural and cultural - which tourism exploits , we must help make tourists feel responsible and be willing to contribute to save the planet while having.
This is perhaps the best expression of ecotourism. Since the environment and the economy are integrated with society and culture we must not neglect the sociocultural dimensions of development - a must for the principles of sustainability.
To come back to the question of how do we go about in assuring sustainable development in the tourism industry, I would position myself with the the formula put forward by the ECOMOST project of the International Federation of Tour operators based on the Mallorca case. To pave the way towards sustainable tourism, we must see to it that : I the population should continue to remain prosper ousand maintain its cultural values and identify. II the place should remain attractive to tourists for many generations.
III nothing should be done to damage the ecology. To achieve the three objectives, an effective political framework is needed. This includes laws to protect the principles of sustainability, integrated planning procedures and coordination involving different authorities who have a say in tourism development including public enquiries and transparency in the issue of development certificates.
This example can be followed by many small islands where the flora and fauna may be threatened by irrational tourism development. The salient features of the master plan are:. I establish a sustainable rate of growth of tourism over the next 5 to l0 years by defining with precision the tourist carrying capacity of the island, which will yield the highest socio-economic benefit.
III safeguard and promote our tourism resources and our physical, cultural and human heritage. IV set up an appropriate machinery to plan, regulate and monitor development along the coast including the beaches and the lagoon. V set up a tourism coordination, evaluation and monitoring unit to promote consultation and cooperation amongst all partners of the tourism sector for a healthy and harmonious growth of the Industry.
VI diversify the tourist sector in order to decongest the over-congested areas where there is a risk of over-stepping the carrying capacity.
It is interesting to note that in Mauritius,there is a certain willingness for consultation and dialogue at inter-Ministerial level and between the Ministry of Tourism and the major players of the hotel sector for a concerted policy approach with regard to land use and development for better economic viability, social and cultural acceptability and environmental sensitiveness as far as new hotel projects are concerned.
Certain conditions for hotel development are imposed in order to ensure sustainable growth. These may be summarized as follows: 1. No high rise complexes along the coastal line 1 storey maximum. Restriction in the number of rooms. Limited plot coverage ratio. Aesthetic architectural designs and maximum use of local materials. The adoption of local traditional music and dance depicting our cultural diversity in all cultural hotel programmes.
The local community should participate actively in the development process of any hotel project. Cultural tourism is admittedly an avenue for a sustainable growth of the industry given that the special characteristics of our society, its traditions, culture, religions and.
Further progress in this field can be made on the basis of concerted actions for an integrated cultural package for tourism purposes.
Therefore, tourism depends very much on its ability to abide strictly by the rules of nature conservation for its own survival. Hence, it is a must for small island states to calculate the threshold for tourist arrival which will yield the greatest net social benefit.
The notion of carrying capacity has not yet been defined in Mauritius. This is perhaps also the case in other small islands. In Mauritius,several firms have been approached to conduct a study and advise the Mauritian authorities on that. So far none has been able to come up with an acceptable figure. During a recent National Forum on Tourism held in May l, this figure was challenged.
The arguments put forward were as follows: a the ceiling for tourism expansion in Mauritius cannot be reduced to a simple mathematical concept. Hence it is not easy to carry such a study as most of the bungalow owners do not declare their income from tourist activities.
The case of Singapore, Hong Kong, the Maldives, the Seychelles and other islands where the number of tourist arrival per year far exceeds the total indigenous population has been mentioned. How do these islands, which are smaller than Mauritius cope with a much larger number of tourists? This seems to be a key question. This brought us to realise that there is a set of interrelated variables that have to be taken into consideration in order to set a definite target figure.
There seems to be no single formula and each country has to be studied individually. According to local authorities, Mauritius cannot afford to raise its present number of tourist hotels.
Others argue that we can still afford from to 1 million tourists per year by AD. The most recent minister of Tourism Mauritius has had three Ministers of Tourism since the last 4 years due to political gymnastics quoted the figure of tourists a year.
Emphasis will be placed on the upmarket tourism as tourists belonging to this category are considered as behaviour reclusive and not interfering with the environment negatively. Mauritius is still trying to find out in as scientifically as possible the carrying capacity for tourists. That period coincided with the building up of European empires and the colonization of tropical islands for economic as well as for geostrategic reasons.
The socio-cultural and economic history of the island has been fashioned, to a large extent, during the period ranging from l to the end.
Colonists have come and gone and yet they have left behind them several monuments which are of great historical significance and cultural value to us Mauritians. These monuments cannot be allowed to crumble down under the weight of time and of human indifference.
Turtle Bay was known to the Dutch as far back as , and probably by the Portuguese and Arabs well before that. The place became a centre of activity during French rule. Since l, an important hotel complex,the roomcapacity Maritim Hotel, has been built at Balaclava. The hotel which is in operation since December l accommodates some tourists a year an average of a day.
The construction of the hotel complex in a spot which was previously undisturbed by human interference has undoubtedly brought some ecological disturbances. Big lumps of the raised coral reef formed some years ago and which runs along the beach has been removed.
A cement wall has been erected and an artificial beach constructed. To safeguard the lagoon environment, the hotel management has set up a series of mitigative measures which are actually being implemented. Apart from a sewage treatment plant , the management has banned the use of plastic bottles. Organic fertilizers manure are now the rule at the 6hole golf course where previously chemical fertilizers and herbicides were heavily applied.
The number of pleasure boats is restricted to the minimum and great care is taken not to damage the young coral shoots. According to the present director,even fish feeding was arranged at a specific time of the day at one point in time. One positive factor about the hotel is that the quality of the services and amenities offered is of high standard and the hotel attracts up market tourists who are reclusive and ecologically sensitive. Most of them prefer to spend their time on the beach,.
Before the setting up of the hotel, the ruins of Balaclava were in a really deplorable state. The structures were crumbling down exploded by the penetration of the roots of trees and nearby villagers were extracting the well chiselled slabs for their own domestic use.
Fortunately, the ruins are located within the premises of the hotel.
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