‘We’re selling MRU from October’
South African agents and operators have opened sales for Mauritius from October onwards in line with the island’s announcement that Phase Two of its reopening, which takes place on October 1, will allow vaccinated travellers to enter the country.
However, the situation remains somewhat fluid due to a recent extension of the existing travel ban between Mauritius and South Africa and some uncertainty relating to flight connectivity.
The Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority (MTPA) released a statement this week confirming that the island still intended to fully reopen its borders by October 1. “Phase Two of the reopening, which takes place on October 1, will allow vaccinated travellers to enter Mauritius without restrictions upon presentation of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure,” advised MTPA. However the tourism board simultaneously noted that the travel ban between Mauritius and South Africa remained in place and had been extended until August 31.
Md of World Leisure Holidays, Ramesh Jeenarain, told Travel News that there was no policy in place that indicated that vaccinated South Africans would be excluded from the reopening in October. As such, World Leisure was promoting the island. “We are promoting packages but in a responsible fashion, which offers our clients flexible conditions due to the volatility of the current environment,” said Ramesh.
Ceo of Thompsons Holidays, Joanne Adolphe, said her understanding was that the reopening was not intended to specifically exclude South Africans. However, as travellers were required to be fully vaccinated, to be able to take the in-resort holidays, not all South Africans would immediately qualify. Thompsons is also promoting packages to the island from October onwards but for land arrangements only at present.
Spokesperson for MTPA, Janet de Kretser, previously indicated that South Africans’ readmission to the island would depend on its vaccine roll-out.
“The island has taken a very cautious approach to dealing with the pandemic to protect its inhabitants. They are trying to reach herd immunity and to have all tourism workers vaccinated by September, which will allow them to reopen more fully, but the Mauritius government remains concerned about the COVID infection rates in South Africa and the slow roll-out of our vaccine programme,” said Janet last month.
MTPA’s latest statement advised that Air Mauritius and other global airlines would add flight capacity leading up to the full reopening on October 1. However, things are somewhat uncertain relating to South African connectivity. SAA has not announced when it will restart operations, all BA Comair flights are currently suspended and FlySafair, which was recently awarded traffic rights to fly to the island, has not yet announced a start date due to ongoing uncertainty about the SA travel ban. Air Mauritius looks set to fly some of its routes.
Travel News approached chief finance and admin officer for Air Mauritius South Africa, Nooriena Davids, who said Air Mauritius inventory between South Africa and Mauritius was reflecting in the GDS from October onwards. However Nooriena was also cautious about this date saying that the reopening of borders to South African travellers would be dependent on local infection rates at the time and the progress of South Africa’s vaccination programme.