Mauritius Tourism Minister Michael Sik Yuen yesterday, on the occasion of the launch of the Vanilla Island Tourism Organization (VITO), made a breaking news announcement when answering a question from a journalist about affordable connectivity between the islands. “Air Mauritius will with immediate effect offer passengers who arrive on their long-haul flights from Australia, China, and Europe, a free fare onward ticket to La Reunion. All passengers have to pay are the applicable taxes on such a ticket, but the fare itself is free.”
This development followed an earlier statement made by Seychelles’ Alain St. Ange, Minister of Tourism and Culture, who had confirmed that Air Austral would resume flights from Reunion to the Seychelles from early next year onwards. On the question of a visa for such visitors wanting a spur of a moment trip in to fly to Reunion to discover the often breathtaking vistas in the center of the island, Mr. Didier Robert, President of the Regional Council of Reunion, then added that steps had already been taken to ease the issuing of a visa in the interest of boosting visitor numbers. It is understood that South African citizens can now enter Reunion Island already under a substantially relaxed visa regime, while visitors from China would next enjoy similar privileges to be followed by a number of other nationalities.
Air Mauritius, which has undergone some significant restructuring and cost-cutting measures, had pruned routes deemed unprofitable and then started to focus on opening up new services, like their flight to Beijing which the market has accepted well, offering the first direct route between China and Mauritius.
Mauritius is, after newly-admitted Maldives, the island with the second most arrivals from among the Vanilla Island Tourism Organization’s members and has for long led the statistics of the Indian Ocean islands off the African coast.