What’s the price for a journey to this island paradise?

This article first appeared in Malay Mail

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Picture Credit: KMF

THIS is what experts in the field of tourism in Malaysia and Mauritius are discussing, along with those from Algeria, Turkey and Kazakhstan.

And there are no easy solutions, given that the eco-friendly and well preserved natural beauty of the jewel of the Indian Ocean is a costly tourist destination, attracting 1.3 million visitors annually, mostly from Europe.

Malaysian tourists, on the rise this year by a hefty 158% — with officials admitting it is mostly due to AirAsia X’s penetration in the market before the low-cost airliner’s sudden pullout in March this year — contributed only 0.5% of the total tourist arrival in the first quarter of 2017.

But it is a market worth revisiting, said officials who spoke to Malay Mail during a familiarisation trip organised by the Tourism Promotion Association (TPA) and the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority last week.

This as Mauritius focuses on the halal tourism sector, and moving away from the traditional “beach tourism” destination, with additional emphasis on ecotourism and activity tourism on the Island.

In the past 10 years, the country has transformed its tourism landscape to include a series of activities in which tourists can engage during their stay on the tropical Island.

The beauty of it is that tourists can now do more onshore and on the ex-
traordinary seas that surrounds the Island.

Besides the usual snorkeling, diving and swimming in the low tides of the eastern and northern coasts of the Island, tourists can spend a few nights on special cruises in the middle of the sea or walk under the sea with special equipment.

On land, they now have the recently discovered coloured earth, which is different from the original colored earth the tourists were used to in the past at Chamarel, with the Valley of Colours (Valley des Couleurs in French).

The story goes that Asif Polin, the owner of the Valley des Colours theme park discovered a new site where colored earth were uncovered during an excavation.

This became a hit with tourists who now flock to the area to get a glimpse of the land and the valley, with its cascades through ‘quad bike’ rides or through ziplining above the forest.

Zipline tours are becoming popular vacation activities, found at outdoor adventure camps or upscale resorts, where they may be an element of a larg- er challenge or ropes course, and Mauritius has another zipline location at the

To European tourists, the Island is a sell-out with activities such as the 60 seconds of free-fall when your tandem jumpmaster throws you out of a plane, plummeting towards the ground before parachuting gently into land with tandem skydiving.

This is what the site http://mauritiusattractions.com/ says.

Picture Credit: KMF, turtle mating at Casela.

It also recommends the zip lines at Vallée des Couleurs, designed to start low and slow and gradually build the confidence as it gets progressively longer, higher and faster.

Slide down the mountain with the longest zipline in the Indian ocean of 1.5km.

It also talks of the the dirt, which is double the fun with the Mud Karting.

“It’s the opportunity to enjoy the thrill of the machine, and get down and dirty with this off road circuit track at Casela Park,” it said.

For sports fans, there are the challenges of mountain biking.

With two tracks to choose from, you’ll experience the best mountain biking terrain in Mauritius.

And it is guaranteed that you will feel the freedom and fresh air as you trail-blaze round some of the country’s best off-road trails with the Adrenaline Rush Ride, designed for those looking for excitement and a challenge.

Jumping off rocks, swimming through currents and sliding down the river, with the River Trek Adventure and this is truly a sport like no other.

If you want to try the ultimate fun water-sport, the one-hour or half-day Sea Hover Adventure is your perfect choice.

In a sense, TPA President Neezam Mohamad Jeetoo said Mauritius has everything that a tourist would want to get.

Targeting Malaysians, Jeetoo said while Mauritius has its traditional markets, the TPA believes in diversifying the source of tourists arrivals for the country.

“Malaysia remains unexplored. We want to establish a list of countries that are unexplored, thus we got in touch with the authorities in the following countries, Malaysia, Algeria, Kazakhstan and Turkey.

“This is a first step, and we have chosen to focus on Malaysia and the three other nations, in a bid to increase tourist arrivals from these countries.”

He said these markets would be attracted to Mauritius during what is still called the “low season” in the Island republic.

This is when less Europeans travels to Mauritius due to the relatively less hot weather.

IBC Tours Corporation Malaysia Sdn Bhd managing director Nazaruddin Hassan said is indeed a beautiful destination with a lot of good accommodation facilities, ecotourism, great food and a friendly people.

“There are many similarities with Malaysia. Multiple nationalities, green vegetation and the British system of running the country.”

He said the tourism board and the local airline, Air Mauritius, must promote the country heavily for at least two years with very attractive rates.

“This will give Malaysians the reason why they should visit Mauritius,” he said to Malay Mail.

Nazaruddin was on the familiarisation trip representing Malaysia.

He said Mauritius could complement the regional island destinations.

“Next, the tourism board must set up an office or tie up with an agent to promote the Island aggressively with various packages and events in Mauritius.

“They must use the media in Malaysia as back up support for their promotional campaign, and that means they must be prepared to have a good budget allocated for Malaysia,” Nazaruddin said.

Last but not least, he said it is very important for some of the top hotels, resorts and as well as the airline to play their part in the promotional campaign.

In the first three months of this year, around 208,000 European tourists landed in Mauritius — an increase of 4.7% compared to the same period last year.

The second biggest source of tourist is Africa with 69,000 visitors followed by Asia with 51,500 visitors.

From Asia, China leads the charge with 21,800 tourists and India at second place with 17,250.