South African domestic airline FlySafair has announced its first regional flight route, between Johannesburg and Port Louis in Mauritius. The twice-weekly service will begin when the borders reopen which, with vaccination programmes having recently launched in both countries, is hoped could happen within the next few months.
Arvind Bundhun, Director of the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority (MTPA), says that South Africa is one of the country’s top five source markets for inbound tourism. In 2019, South Africans accounted for 8.6% of tourist arrivals, or 181 556 of the 1,38-million tourists arriving that year.
Strict measures have resulted in almost no known cases of community transmission since June 2020.
“Rebuilding the tourism sector in Mauritius is vital for the economy and the future growth of the country, so this announcement from FlySafair is particularly welcome at this time. We are looking forward to the day when our loyal travellers from South Africa, a country with which we have enjoyed a longstanding and mutually beneficial relationship, return to our shores again,” says Bundhun.
Elmar Conradie, CEO of FlySafair, adds, “We’re extremely humbled and grateful for the enthusiasm with which the authorities and people of Mauritius have greeted our announcement. We’ve always prided ourselves on offering a service that is affordable, on-time and hassle-free and we look forward to making that a reality on this connection too.”
Mauritius is a short four-hour flight away and boasts luxury resorts, beautiful beaches, a range of outdoor activities and attractions, as well as a diverse and vibrant culture. But another reason many travellers are eager to visit is due to the country’s effective response to the Covid-19 pandemic, translating into little to no disruption to the islanders’ daily lives. Strict quarantine measures, testing and the observation of thorough Covid-19 protocols have resulted in almost no known cases of community transmission since June 2020. The country has also received a perfect 100 on the Oxford University Stringency Index, which tracks government policy and action regarding the Covid-19 pandemic.
To meet the increase in demand from visitors looking for a Covid-safe environment for work, leisure, or retirement, Mauritius introduced the Premium Visa. This allows for extended visits of 12 months with an option for further extensions.
Entry restrictions and quarantine requirements are expected to be eased progressively as the pandemic is brought under control. It is also expected that vaccinated visitors may soon be granted free access to the country.
Of the 50 000 front liners being considered, it is estimated that 50% of them are in the tourism sector.
Mauritius is currently vaccinating its front liners, which includes healthcare professionals, senior citizens, those with underlying medical conditions and employees within the tourism industry. Of the 50 000 front liners being considered, it is estimated that 50% of them are in the tourism sector.
South Africa has also included those working in hospitality and tourism as able to receive the vaccine in phase 2 of its immunization programme, with phase 1 being limited exclusively to frontline health workers.