With bookings for future travel slowly coming in for tour operators, Mauritius remains the popular choice for South Africans looking to travel once borders reopen.

According to statistics shared by Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority representative Philippa Piguet, South Africa ranked fifth in tourist arrivals to Mauritius between January and March 2020 (until borders closed on March 19). South Africa made up 6,2% of the total, with 18 941 arrivals during that period.

Ramesh Jeenarain, md of World Leisure Holidays, told Travel News that the operator had seen an uptick in future Mauritius bookings. “We’re receiving daily requests for new quotes and bookings for travel in 2021,” he said. “At this stage, the official ban is until August 31, and vouchers are being offered for affected travellers. We have no doubt that, should South Africans not be allowed to travel post this date, Air Mauritius will extend the voucher credit to incorporate the new affected dates.”

With regard to Air Mauritius seat allocations for 2020, Ramesh said: “Carla (da Silva) and the team at Air Mauritius should be commended for the way in which they handled the crisis that we faced this year. In early April, Air Mauritius reached out to us for the June/July committed seats allowing us the opportunity to move these to later in the year. We have full confidence that, should other committed periods be affected, Air Mauritius will work with us to move those affected seats to 2021.”

Ramesh hopes that the governments of the SADC region create travel corridors between the various territories regionally (as a start) to save the tourism sectors of these countries. “We are confident that Mauritius will still be the destination of choice once borders reopen. There are so many plus factors to Mauritius and, with virtually no new cases being recorded, the island is going to become the flavour of 2021.”

Joanne Adolphe, ceo of Thompsons Holidays, said the operator was currently taking forward bookings for Mauritius. “South African travellers are hopeful that they will still be able to enjoy an island getaway later this year,” she said.

“Although Mauritius is on the cusp of opening up to certain destinations, we are not sure when they will consider South Africans, as this will be based on our COVID-19 infections at the time of their government’s decision-making,” Joanne added.