Check against delivery
Honourable Soomilduth Bholah, Minister of Industrial Development, SMEs and Cooperatives
Mr Lindsay Morvan, Director of Tourism Authority
Mr Ravin Ramparsad, CEO of SME Mauritius Ltd
Mr Sanjiv Mulloo, Chairman, Mauritius Standards Bureau
Mrs Sandhya Boygah, General Manager, Mauritius Standards Bureau
Operators and Small and Medium Enterprises representatives present here today
Members of the press
Ladies and Gentlemen
C avec enn grand plaisir ki mo pe addresse zotte azordi a l’okasion lancement sa certification scheme pour banne operateur touristik.
Couma mo ti dire semaine dernière dans Rivière des Créoles lor enn activité nettoyaze la plaze avec Tourism Authority, protektion l’environnement li concerne nou tous. Nou tou nou bizin mette la main ensam pou proteze nou l’environnement. Sa ve dire, gouvernement, société civile, sekteur privé, l’université – nou tou bizin marié piké nou travaille ensam pou protez la nature.
(Please allow me to switch to English now.)
Role of private sector in environment stewardship
Seeing so many of you operators here today sends signals of hope for the environment and, for the nature. You – small and medium sized enterprises – are here because you know that you have a key role to play in this global fight to preserve our planet. It is part of your global social responsibility. And you are particularly well placed to realise that, because you are all directly or indirectly linked with the tourism sector.
Tourists have since the beginning in the 1970’s - always been attracted to your country for its natural beauty. So preservation of this natural beauty and the environment is of fundamental importance. And today, it is the attractiveness of Mauritius that is at stake.
As you all know, Mauritius has always been and is still among the top destinations for European tourists. In 2019 50% of tourists came from EU including La Reunion.
And you perfectly know why; Mauritius has so much to offer – from its natural beauty to its world known hospitality and gastronomy. It is therefore not surprising that tourists who come once, often return to your paradisiac island. In 2018, 35.8% of tourists who came to Mauritius had already been here before.
Let me come to the main subject of today: the ISO 165:2019 Certification
You are here in your capacity as operators in the tourism industry – be it as tour operators or as owners of guest houses. The ISO 165:2019 Certificate that you have applied for will allow you to become like me "Ambassadors" of sustainable tourism for your country.
Indeed, this Certificate will assist you in adopting sustainable production practices.
To obtain the MS 165:2019, you as operators will have to demonstrate your undertakings in improving the social, cultural and economic situations of your value chain and your communities while at the same time safeguarding the environment. This shall be done through a reengineering of your modes of operation and by developing sustainable packages.
I wish to congratulate Government and in particular the Tourism Authority for having the MS 165:2019 Certification approved by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC). It means that it is recognised globally by all international tour operators. This is a very important milestone for your enterprises, because with this Certificate you have the key to enter a niche segment of the tourism market. Research is indeed showing that travellers would travel more to places that are proving to be sustainable, away from crowded areas and where health and safety are placed at the high end of priorities. The certification will also give you a global competitive marketing edge being on the Global Sustainable Tourism Council platform. And I can tell you that European tourists will surely pay lot of attention to this Certification.
Ladies and Gentlemen
Tourism resumption after COVID
As a consequence of the COVID pandemic, global tourism has undeniably suffered and continues to suffer. Mauritius is unfortunately well placed to know that. I am however very pleased that during this quiet period, work did not stop. The Tourism Authority with the support from the EU Sustainable Island project has worked hard not just to train operators and to acquire this important Certification, but also to intervene directly during the oil spill to limit its negative direct effects and also the reputational damage;. With these efforts, this will certainly allow the tourism industry in Mauritius to bounce back with even more vigour as borders reopen as we all are hoping for.
However we need to be attentive to the fact that as world tourism resumes, we can expect an even fiercer competition among tourist destinations. For example, will the European tourist still chose to come to Mauritius which is 11 000 km away or would they prefer to travel to closer destinations? The decision will depend on their purchasing power, but also on what more can Mauritius provide to attract these tourists – and sustainability is certainly that 'more' that will count in their decision.
The EU is particularly pleased to support this project because we are indeed matching demand with supply. Demand by increasing European tourists for sustainable and green destinations and the capacity reinforcement of operators in Mauritius – across the value chain – to meet this expectation.
Last year our project has already supported a large number of taxi drivers and tour guides in becoming environmental Ambassadors. Tourism Authority also signed – last week – an MOU with Reef Conservation to sensitize and train operators who work on the lagoon and the sea for instance skippers with a view notably to preserve the mangroves.
Today is your turn. Congratulations.
The EU itself has put sustainable development at the heart of its economic recovery plan in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The current crisis is an opportunity to make the tourism industry more resilient and strengthen the green and digital transformation of EU tourism, maintaining Europe’s standing as a leading destination and maximising the industry’s contribution to growth and employment.
The EU Green Deal
Ladies and gentlemen
Europe targets to become the first carbon-neutral continent by 2050 as part of the new EU Green Deal announced in November 2019. The European tourism sector will inevitably play a key role for the achievement of this carbon-neutrality target in terms of travelling and accommodation. This will certainly bring a change in mindset for the entire European tourism industry where sustainable destinations will become the norm and not the exception. The decision of Mauritius to go in that sustainable tourism direction therefore arrives at a very opportune time and it aligns with growing expectations, at least from Europe.
I would like to also mention that last week President von der Leyen, together with more than 70 Heads of State or Government endorsed the Leaders' Pledge for Nature, committing to ten decisive actions to address the nature emergency. With this pledge, political leaders acknowledge that biodiversity loss, land and ocean degradation, pollution, resource depletion and climate change are accelerating at an unprecedented rate and that unless halted and reversed with immediate effect, it will cause significant damage to global economic, social and political resilience and stability.
The key word here is therefore mobilisation at all levels. In this light, we must remain firmly and strongly committed to sustainable development and continue to promote economic growth while protecting our natural resources.
Mo pou terminé en félicitant Tourism Authority pou so engazement continue ek sans relache pour promouvoir enn tourism durable dans Maurice. Mo pou content remercier aussi deux importants partenaires ki impliké dans sa certification ISO 165 Certificate la, notamment SME Mauritius Ltd ek Mauritius Standards Bureau.
Mo remercié zotte pou zotte l'attention.