Mauritius has unveiled plans for a phased reopening strategy over the coming months.
There are hopes the destination can be fully open to international travellers by October.
From today, 14 Mauritian ‘resort bubbles’ will open, with each having been specially set up to welcome vaccinated international travellers.
Air Mauritius, Emirates and other global airlines will also add additional flight capacity this month.
Phase two of the reopening will begin on October 1st, whereby vaccinated travellers will be allowed entry without restrictions and be able to travel around the island.
This will mark a full reopening of the island ahead of its peak winter season.
Here we find out more from Arvind Bundhun, director of the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority.
Breaking Travel News: Where does Mauritius stand with its vaccination programme against Covid-19 – and have tourism professionals been prioritised ahead of the reopening?
Arvind Bundhun: The response to the pandemic has ranked among one of the best in the world, as the Mauritian government responded promptly with stringent control measures and protocols.
The safety of Mauritians and visitors has been a top priority since the outbreak of Covid-19 and the success is a result of a joint effort by the Mauritian government and the population of the island.
The responsiveness of the Mauritian authorities and the effectiveness of the health system are the core reasons behind our low death rate.
Due to the precautionary measures put in place by our government, we have been successful in containing the spread of the pandemic.
This is itself a reassuring message for visitors who can see the efforts that both the government and private sector in Mauritius have implemented to ensure safety of locals and visitors.
The local community had really banded together to respect the rules, follow guidelines and work together for the destination to reopen and we are very proud of how we have, and continue to, overcome this challenging period in our history.
The announcement follows the acceleration of the vaccination campaign and the progress made towards herd immunity by the end of September.
Tourism employees were prioritised during the vaccine rollout.
This has enabled a prompt and safe restart of the Mauritius tourism industry.
As of now, the island is well on track to reach its herd immunity as Mauritius has received most of its stock of vaccines.
BTN: You have unveiled plans for a cautious reopening over the coming months – what can you tell me about that?
AB: Throughout the pandemic we have taken a cautious approach, placing the safety of our visitors and Mauritians at the forefront of our actions.
The reopening on July 15th is the first stage in a phased approach, with the first phase running to September 30th and enabling vaccinated travellers to experience our class-leading resorts and the varied range of facilities including pools, beaches, restaurants and many resort activities.
This will lead into phase two beginning on October 1st, whereby vaccinated travellers will be allowed entry without restrictions so will be able to once more enjoy all that our wonderful island has to offer.
We have been working hand in glove with our island stakeholders to move forward to this stage and are delighted to have a clear roadmap in place.
The UK is, of course one, of our most important and valued markets and we are greatly looking forward to working with the UK trade to invite holidaymakers back to our island and extend a warm welcome.
BTN: ‘Resort bubbles’ have been set up across the island – what will life be like for travellers during their stay?
AB: A total of 14 ‘resort bubbles’ have been specially set up to welcome vaccinated UK and international visitors to the island from today and enabling travellers to enjoy a resort holiday on the island.
The approved Covid-19 safe resorts are available on a new website.
Holidaymakers will be able to enjoy facilities within their chosen resort premises, including the swimming pool and beach.
If guests stay for 14 days and have negative PCR tests during their stay in the resort, they will then be able to leave the hotel and travel about the island freely for the rest of their stay, exploring the island’s many attractions.
However, for shorter stays, they may leave the resort earlier and travel back home.
BTN: You have seen strong support from the aviation sector, with carriers returning. What role will Air Mauritius play after its administration process?
AB: Air Mauritius has confirmed a new schedule of three flights per week from Paris to Mauritius from July 15th in line with the reopening of Mauritius borders to international travellers.
There are currently regular connecting flights using Air Mauritius partner carrier Air France from multiple regional points in the UK to Paris.
Air Mauritius will be confirming further updates for direct flights from Heathrow to Mauritius in the lead up to the full reopening on October 1st.
In addition, British Airways is currently working on scheduling direct flights to Mauritius from August, and Emirates and Turkish Airlines are looking to resume their indirect flights soon too.
BTN: What are your expectations in terms of visitor numbers for 2021?
AB: Our Mauritius hotel partners and UK tour operators are reporting strong forward bookings for quarter four of 2021.
We believe Mauritius is a strong destination brand and remains in the mind and heart of travellers when they leave, therefore we strongly believe tourism to Mauritius can bounce back in the long term.
Find out more about visiting the island on the official website.