In an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus, Mauritius implemented strict quarantine regulations for travellers arriving on the island earlier in 2020. This helped the island-state maintain a grip on the spread of the virus and keep the number of infections and deaths extremely low.
Foreign travellers arriving in Mauritius are required to complete a 14-day quarantine on arrival. The Mauritian government has extended this quarantine requirement for arriving passengers to 15 January 2021.
Travellers are required to undergo a mandatory hotel quarantine for 14 days on arrival in Mauritius. Visitors are restricted to their rooms for the entire 14-day period. The cost of the quarantine is for the visitor’s own account.
Meals and cleaning materials are delivered to guests in their hotel rooms, so guests have no need to leave their rooms. And unlike other islands, guests may not spend time on the beach or at their hotel’s pool during the 14-day quarantine in Mauritius.
Mauritius is a firm favourite among South Africans. According to Mauritius Statistics, the organisation which records data on the number of visitors to the island, South Africans were the fifth-largest nationality travelling to the island in 2018 after France, the UK, Reunion and Germany.
Mauritius is a short, four-hour flight from South Africa, and offers a range of accommodation and activities suiting South African visitors. The island is known for its inclusive resorts which offer all meals, drinks and entertainment as part of the package price.
The average South African holidaymaker stays on the island for seven to 10 days while enjoying the activities and attractions on offer in Mauritius. The 14-day quarantine requirement has had a negative effect on tourism to Mauritius, because most visitors are not likely to travel to destinations where they will be restricted to their hotel room for 14 days.
“The quarantine regulations have made a massive difference to what we sell, as Mauritius has always been one of our top destinations,” Jonathan Gerber of the Travel Assignment Group said in an interview with Tourism Update.
Since South Africa lifted its travel ban and reopened its borders to international travel, South Africans have begun to travel again. Pent-up demand for overseas travel accumulated over several months of the lockdown, when borders were closed and international travel was banned.
South Africans are travelling again but choosing destinations which offer less red tape and more convenience.
Islands in the Indian Ocean such as the Seychelles, Zanzibar and the Maldives have attracted South Africans by easing entry requirements and offering complimentary COVID-19 testing (Seychelles) or no quarantine requirement (Seychelles, Zanzibar and Maldives) for South African visitors.
“One destination’s demise is another’s rise,” Andrew Stark of the Flight Centre Travel Group told Tourism Update.