AUTOUR DE L’AFRASIA MAURITIUS OPEN : Maurice, légitimité parfaite de pays-pont, selon Philippe Espitalier Noël

Illuminé pour l’occasion, le Château de Bel Ombre dans toute sa splendeur. A la tribune, Philippe Espitalier Noël

Discours empreint de nostalgie et d’émotion de Philippe Espitalier Noël lors du dîner de gala, samedi dernier, au Château de Bel Ombre. Dans le cadre du Bel Ombre/ Afrasia Bank Mauritius Open de golf, le Chief Executive Officer de Rogers a, lors de son allocution, effectué un retour dans l’histoire pour retracer l’itinéraire du Domaine de Bel Ombre, fort de ses 250 années d’existence, jusqu’à sa gestion par le groupe ENL. En passant par l’acquisition de la majorité des parts par le Groupe Rogers au début des années 1970. «Il y a des balises qui marquent la vie des hommes et celle des pays», a souligné Philippe Espitalier Noël. Il s’est ainsi référé à la construction du Domaine de Bel Ombre en 1765, soit cinquante ans avant l’arrivée des Français dans l’île. Ce Domaine devint la demeure principale de Charles Telfair, médecin, botaniste et humaniste précurseur, alors que sa sucrerie serait parmi les trois à avoir été établies durant la période française. Toutefois, la sucrerie cessa ses opérations en 1999. La gestion de la compagnie fut alors confiée au groupe ENL, et sous le leadership d’Hector Espitaler Noël, une alternative à l’activité uniquement agricole prit forme.
Le CEO de Rogers a également rappelé que la conversion du domaine agricole en un vaste domaine de loisirs s’est matérialisée voilà dix ans. «C’est désormais plus de 3000 personnes qui y travaillent. Soutenu par 150 propriétaires de villas, et quelque 30 000 visiteurs chaque année, Heritage s’est installé de manière durable comme un lieu de détente unique dans l’île», a-t-il fait ressortir. Et d’ajouter : «Outre la dizaine de milliards de roupies d’investissements consentis, les entreprises opérant dans la région soutiennent la qualité de vie de ceux qui y travaillent, et générent un flux grandissant de devises pour notre pays»
Concernant le tournoi de golf, Philippe Espitalier Noël s’est réjoui de l’apport des médias étrangers. «43 sociétés de télévision retransmettent, en ce moment, ce tournoi à quelque 600 millions de foyers. C’est bien la première fois dans l’histoire de notre pays qu’un événement nous offre une visibilité de cette envergure. Aujourd’hui, ce n’est pas uniquement l’histoire du golf que nous écrivons, mais aussi celle de notre pays». Il a aussi dit sa satisfaction que cette compétition ait pu regrouper des golfeurs venant d’Europe, d’Afrique et d’Asie. «Voilà Maurice avec une légétimité parfaite de nouveau pays-pont», a-t-il avancé. Le CEO de Rogers a également tenu à remercier Afrasia Bank, coorganisateur de l’événement, Heritage et ses équipes, la MTPA, la fédération de golf, l’Ofiice mauricienne du tourisme, la compagnie sucrière Bel Ombre, Air Mauritius, Anahita, Villa Valriche et le Groupe Land Rover Jaguar.


About golf — Open letter to the Prime Minister
Dear Hon. Prime Minister,
Please allow me to write to you this open letter as I think there are going to be many benefits arising from this, if this project has your blessings. Something unique, incredible, wonderful and marvelous happened in Mauritius during the period 4-10 May 2015 which will change the perception of at least 500 million people in 45 countries about our dear Republic of Mauritius. I can see and feel the itchy feet of these overseas golfers and golfing community making enquiries about travelling to Mauritius!
Four days of world class golf played by top and famous European, African and Asian professional golfers at the Heritage Golf Course, rated as one of the best golf courses in the world by no less than CNN, has familiarized some 500 million viewers overseas in 5 continents with Mauritius as a super golfing destination.
 During those four days of competition from 7 to 10 May 2015, Mauritius was showcased for three hours (180 minutes) / day live with some 500 million people from Europe, Africa, Asia and America watching. On top of that there were highlights shown in many more countries. This global event was the brainchild of one particular person, Mr. Ryan Dodd, the Director of Golf at Heritage. He singlehandedly convinced the European Golfing authority, the South African Golfing Authority and the Asian Golfing Authority to hold a tri-sanctioned event, a first in the world, here in Mauritius. This was a mammoth achievement by any standard. He convinced these authorities that Mauritius had the best golf courses, the human capacity and the resources to host such an event
To make a global event happen, money is needed. Afrasia Bank stepped up to the plate and put up most generously one million Euro as prize money to attract the very best world class golfers to travel miles across oceans to come to our beautiful shores. The eventual winner was in California last weekend and travelled across the world over six time zones to be here for the Afrasia Mauritius open. The Bank’s CEO  James Benoit should be congratulated and recognized by the Republic of Mauritius for the unparallel challenge that he took and succeeded in. In English it is said that one should put his money where his mouth is. In this case this is precisely what Afrasia Bank did. By having these giants stepping up to the plate, the unbelievable dream was realized. Yes, some 500 million people watched the 4 day golf matches live in 45 countries and got to see and know Mauritius, its hotels, its golf courses, its beaches and the business opportunities. This is excellent not only for the country’s tourism industry viewpoint but also for people doing investments and businesses. Golfers will be attracted to visit Mauritius to enjoy the wonderful signature golf courses designed by the world famous Ernie Els, Bernard Langer, Hugh Baiocchi, etc. Furthermore, golfing community by definition are economically better off citizens and are not only potential visitors to enjoy the golf courses but also to invest in Mauritius.
ENL group had unreservedly and wholeheartedly lent his support and resources to make this event possible and a wonderful success. He had believed in this project and had invested massively in terms of resources and their enthusiasm carried the day. Bel Ombre had never seen so much effervescence, excitement. Thousands of spectators from overseas and local residents flogged to the golf course to admire and idolize their great golfing heroes and to see George Coetzee crown as the Afrasia Mauritius Open champion at this inaugural competition. The visitors were most pleasantly surprised and enjoyed every moment of it and were full of praises for Mauritius, its people and wished they could stay on!
Mauritius was shown live on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and on Sunday to 500 million people in 45 countries. This means 180 minute per day and over 480 minutes over 4 days. It would have cost Mauritius RS. 480 million rupees just to advertise Mauritius had we to pay commercial advertising rate.
Generally golfers are well known to travel in quest of new experiences in exotic places to experience different golf courses. It is reasonable to expect that out of the 500,000,000 spectators who had watched the golf played in Mauritius on TV last weekend that a small proportion will be coming over to Mauritius.
If the exposure only brings in a minimum of 10, 000 golfers to Mauritius per year for a week of golf, these visitors would spend a minimum of USD 30 million, representing Rs. 640,000,000! In turn, golfing sector will create skilled employment for Mauritians as golf monitors, golf course technicians, professional caddies, as well as business for shops, for taxis, restaurants etc. It will be a win–win situation for all. This project has a potential benefit of some 1.1. billion rupees for Mauritius in this coming year! The Mauritian golfers were enthralled by the experience and the banking and business community at large have established good contacts with the visitors with a view to firming up economic ties for the good of Mauritius and overseas parties equally.
The Mauritian citizens are proud of those that made this event possible with unparallel success and should be indebted toward them. It is also hoped that the Republic of Mauritius will recognise them for their great contribution and for their great “coup de pouce” at this juncture of our development for the sustainable development of our beloved rainbow country. Finally, to make this a sustainable effort durable and successful over time, Hon. Prime Minister, your personal blessings are needed as well as some of your personal time and attention, to ensure that all these efforts converge towards making Mauritius an excellent golf destination.
Long live the Republic of Mauritius.
R H Prayag rhpdrenv@intnet.mu