Three years since its launch, a landmark initiative to revive Mauritius’ status as a transit hub between Asia and Africa is looking set for a boost with a stronger tourism thrust coming from Mauritian inbound stakeholders, keen to tap into Asia’s outbound markets.
The government of Mauritius and Singapore’s Changi Airport Group (CAG) partnered to launch the Air Corridor project in 2015, and Air Mauritius inaugurated direct flights from Singapore in 2016.
The initiative is focused on developing air traffic in four key areas: Mauritius-Singapore; other Asian markets to Mauritius via Singapore; Africa/Indian Ocean to Singapore via Mauritius; and two-centre holiday traffic from Asia to Africa/Indian Ocean destinations, according to Belinda Udhin, tourism promotion officer, Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority (MTPA).
The three base weekly frequencies on Air Mauritius’ Singapore-Mauritius route will be increased to four in July and August, and from mid-October this year to end January 2019, Udhin shared.
Yet, the additional flight has not been made a regular service as initially hoped, with Air Mauritius’ regional manager, North East & South East Asia, Shiri Prakash Rai attributing this to the lack of demand for the Sunday departure beyond the peak travel season. Plans to work up to a five-times weekly frequency have also been shelved for now, he added.
Addressing comments on the “limited success” of the initiative, Udhin reminded that developing the air corridor is a “long-term process – not only in terms of passengers but also tourists and cargo”.
Udhin further pointed out that the destination saw a 13.7 per cent year-on-year increase in arrivals from Singapore in 2017, stronger growth than was seen in 2016. Arrivals from Asia grew marginally at 1.5 per cent in 2017.
Fanning hopes for greater utilisation of the Air Corridor, Mauritius is intensifying tourism promotions in Asia as it celebrates its 50th year of independence in 2018.
Just last month, the partners behind the Air Corridor project conducted a series of roadshows in South Korea, Japan and Taiwan. Mauritius will also feature at ITB Asia for the first time this year.
“Several actions have taken place in Asia to promote this concept. Air Mauritius, Changi Airport and the MTPA have conducted a few workshops for the travel trade throughout Asia (China, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore/Malaysia),” Udhin said.
Meanwhile in Singapore, Chan Brothers Travel observed that tourist demand for Mauritius is on the up. “This may be attributed to the increased flight frequency and launch of direct flights to Mauritius, making the destination more accessible to travellers,” spokesperson Justine Koh told TTG Asia.