PREETAM SEEWOOCHURN

Consultant in Tourism

The tourism industry is now one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, and the outlook is still bleak. Positive vaccine news has lifted recovery expectations, but obstacles remain, and the sector is expected to be in survival mode until well into the end of 2021.

Without continued government support, industries around the tourism ecosystem will perish, and policymakers will have to focus on direct and indirect employees to minimize job losses, and create recovery in 2021 and beyond. But more needs to be done, and in a more coordinated manner.

We propose some of the policy priorities that should be given due consideration by developing a blueprint for the tourism sector over the pandemic based on core values, priorities, and obligations and a mutual ambition. The five imperative strategies suggested below would contribute to sound tourism market practices and adhere to previously developed trends and observations. Each of the five strategies is designed to operate in tandem with the others, ensuring that success in one field leads to success in the others. Further, each imperative acting as a pillar for the five-year strategic plan, recognizes that state-wide success will only be possible with collaboration and support from the tourism industry.

1. Safety and hygiene after the pandemic

After the pandemic, people are more likely to choose private options, avoiding large crowds and prioritizing private modes of transportation, which can have a negative effect on the environment. Governments at all levels, as well as the private sector, must be better organized and capable of reacting and adapting rapidly. More robust risk management and crisis response systems, as well as closer coordination, are needed. We need to assume that all protocols are well established and apply to all businesses in Mauritius. Before travelling, people will definitely verify if the place or hotels where they plan to stay are secure and have all the necessary measures in place. This is a shared obligation with all value chain participants. It simply cannot be a single entity’s liability. Customers, employees, vendors, and other stakeholders of the ecosystem should all receive public health and safety training under the new conditions.

2. Effective Tourism Marketing Plan

 Avoid market competition at all costs. Tourists’ key issues are less crowded tourist destinations and a healthier healthcare system. As a result, to draw visitors in the coming year, destinations must stop using price rivalry as a differentiator. Triangular fare needs to be adopted in our marketing plan.

Tourism should be redesigned and redefined. Tourist attitudes and behaviours have changed after the pandemic. The product must be adjusted to meet the current tourist demands and needs. The destination’s brand strategy must ensure that it is both desirable and clean. Tourists will seek out new destinations that provide excellent sanitation and that are less crowded. The aim is to develop a long-term strategy that demonstrates to visitors that the destination is prepared for any unexpected occurrence.

Extend the scope of our power and data. Stakeholders’ policy is at the core of how people view destinations, and it plays a key role in promoting them. Government decisions, practices, and strategies must be monitored and measured by all stakeholders before coming with a final decision.

  Having gone through COVID-19, a crisis management strategy needs to be prepared. All hotels must have a team in place that can adapt, analyse, and respond to a new crisis. These tactics would assist the stakeholder in avoiding placing workers on unpaid leave or terminating their jobs.

It is now very urgent to re-invent our tourism industry not only the 3’S: Sun, Sea and Sand, but for example, we should develop more attraction and incentives. It is the right time to stop mass tourism or backpackers, what we need to have back as visitors should be in terms of quality and not quantity.  Stakeholders need to put in place a new approach to get visitors on a minimum of 12 day-stay, where they travel for 2 days and enjoy their visit on the remaining days, instead of mass tourism where tourists came only for 8 days including travelling. The difference will definitely show on the figures.

Spa & Wellness, MICE, LGBT and sustainable tourism need to be further developed in our strategy plan. This will boost our tourism sector when it comes to big-spending.

Countries like Russia have a great potential for Mauritius, with its considerable purchasing power. We need to develop our coastal areas as we have very good opportunities for these types of tourism, our spot offers a wide range of options for all kite levels and conditions (from flatwater to waves).

As Mauritius is developing an education hub, we need to use this for international students to come and study, at the same time their families may also visit our island. It is a niche market that the government needs to take into consideration.

Furthermore, entertainment centres in Mauritius should be open during week days and week-ends, and must be enhanced with new concepts and facilities.

3. Excellence Customer Care/Human Capital Development

As we know, Mauritius in 1992 was at the top of our hospitality service ; nowadays we have lost our quality of service in our tourism Sector not only because of COVID-19, but also because many people are not very eager to work in this field anymore. We are not providing enough counselling to the new generations and we have been taking our tourism for granted.

We need to come with more strategies to avoid the low occupancy. Nowadays customers’ expectations are very high, once they are not happy with the service, they will complain and will ask for refund. By investing in continuous training this will also increase the quality of our services and profit, as we know that we have a high staff turnover and lack of manpower. Stakeholders have to put in place a PdP (Personal development Plan) in order to motivate each and every employee.

Human capital has an impact on economic growth and can aid in the development of an economy by increasing people’s knowledge and skills. It refers to the recognition that not everyone has the same skillsets or skills. For the last 5 years foreign students are more often working as frontliners in this sector. My observation is not focussed on students but on what clients expect when they come to Mauritius, that is to be served by professional people as they know that our country is recognised for its hospitality.

As we are aware those employers have nowadays a high percentage of employee’s rotation in this sector. This puts the stakeholders in a difficult situation. We need to get back to the basics of the 5 Rs: Responsibility, Respect, Revenue sharing, Reward and Relaxation time as this will help our stakeholders to retain their employees.

4. Digitalisation in Tourism

Mauritius has to think about innovation and its computerized footprint to expand its perception, engagement, change and dependability. The tourism industry ought to empower its different businesses to think of how they can co-create tourism encounters and how they can develop benefits for all members within the commercial center.

Tourism services are expected to become increasingly digital, with increased automation, contactless payments and services, interactive interactions, and a real-time information provision.

Other technologies that are changing the nature of service work in tourism and the visitor economy include the platform economy, transportation sharing services, interactive guides, and applications that ramify visitor experiences.

Industry 4.0 is an umbrella term utilized to represent massive change taking and putting the association of financial and social life as a result of digitalisation and technological advance.

Actually, government intends to come with a new regulation for the ICTA Act. I will suggest to bring that to a halt, as our tourism sector will definitely be affected.

5. Law and order for tourism destinations

Law and order are critical to delivering high-quality tourism and should be a top priority for every tourism destination. Crime-related events, extremism, conflict, social and political instability are the four potential drivers of a given security situation that could have a negative impact on the tourism.

Recent events necessitate a deeper examination of not only how travel protection can be enhanced, but also how security concerns can be viewed in terms of tourism marketing and management, so that the industry can better respond to certain threats.

The need for destination marketing organizations is to show that we are healthy for our visitors and become increasingly relevant in this era of tumultuous global relationships.

Safety and security greatly influence the destination image of a country, before visitors will come, they will go on social media or the internet, and will find out all the information about the country. After having all information, they will then start their booking.

Conclusion

The Tourism industry remains one of the biggest financial areas as far as workers and commitment to the economy are concerned. The above-mentioned measures open up prompt thoughts for a speedy recovery post-COVID-19 pathways. It is imperative for stakeholders to bear in mind future catastrophes and build up the resilience of the tourism and travel industry in their future plans.