Mauritius experienced another year of record tourism arrivals in 2017, allowing the country to record positive hotel operating performance, according to data from the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority.
The island country outperformed official predictions last year, attracting more than 1.34 million tourists. In response, occupancy rates rose 9.3 percent last year from the 8.9 percent recorded in 2016 while ADR grew 8.4 percent. RevPAR increased 12.1 percent, compared to the previous year. “Mauritius’ continued and sustained tourism trends can be attributed to a number of factors,” Hubert Golay, VP of international hospitality real estate and leisure consulting firm HTI Consulting, said in a statement. “Increased air access is undoubtedly one of these as, over the past few years, we’ve witnessed a number of key international airlines either introducing new flights, increasing their number of flights per week or bolstering capacities on existing flights to the island.”
Other drivers of tourism growth in Mauritius can to be attributed to several initiatives by the country's government and tourism authorities in the past few years, particularly government efforts to promote economic diversification, a favorable business climate and solid infrastructure. “Mauritius is also widely regarded as a safe destination and, as such, has gained popularity as several other destinations have unfortunately suffered losses in arrivals due to safety and terrorism concerns,” Golay said.
In November 2015, only the 130 guestrooms under construction in Mauritius at the time received permission to open under the two-year moratorium on hotel development in the country. However, existing hotels underwent renovations without threatening the new supply coming into the market. The newly refurbished hotels also had time to stabilize and benefit from higher room rates, occupancy levels and operating profits. “Also in 2015, Mauritius developed a new hotel classification system aimed at providing prospective visitors with reliable information on the quality of its hotels,” he said. “Combined with the ban, the system aimed to encourage existing hoteliers to invest in upgrades in order to achieve better rankings.”
The island currently has three hotels in advanced stages of development. There are more hotels in the construction pipeline, with a majority planned in inland smart city locations or Ebene Cybercity. However, construction hasn't begun on these projects yet. “Today, however, there is limited prime coastal land still available in Mauritius, and it’s therefore difficult to foresee the 5-star and luxury market, which requires large plots and prime locations, experiencing significant new supply. We therefore anticipate existing hotel operations to continue thriving,” Golay said.
Investors have been attracted to Mauritius due to the island's mature, safe environment, established resort tourism offerings and stable government and economy. European and Middle Eastern investors along with institutional investors often prefer Mauritius and the nearby Seychelles over continental Africa for these reasons. "Tourism has made an important contribution to this stability and, with the improving global economy and the country carving out a new future tourism economy based on innovation, the country should sustain positive tourism numbers well into the future,” Golay said.