Harnessing the immense potential of Mauritius as a MICE destination
The inaugural edition of the Bleisure Trade and Investment Forum, an initiative of South African Group NKPI Holdings in collaboration with the MTPA and EDB was held this morning, Monday 27th March 2023 at Sugar Beach Resort, Flic-en-Flac, Mauritius.
In his welcome remarks, Mr. Arvind Bundhun, CEO of the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority underlined that Mauritius is the perfect destination for those who wish to incorporate adventure, exploration, and relaxation into their trips. He added that the main objective of this exclusive summit is to promote Mauritius, Investment & Trade opportunities and to enhance the country’s profile as one of the best Tourism Destinations for MICE in Africa. Moreover, the summit provides a platform to unlock trade and investment with Mauritius and other countries in Africa while promoting the region for tourism. The CEO of MTPA also highlighted that Bleisure travel is transforming the hospitality industry, fusing time in the boardroom with time at the beach, combining work and vacation.
On the other hand, Mr. Vinay Guddye, Director of Financial Services & Africa Regional Office, EDB provided a comprehensive overview of the attractiveness of Mauritius as the gateway for cross border investment in the keynote address. He emphasized that the Mauritius International Financial Centre has successfully structured investment to the tune of USD 187 bn to India & USD 82 bn to Africa, making Mauritius the most prominent IFC for Africa. Moreover, the investment mediated by Mauritius further supports tax revenues for several African states cumulating to USD 6 billion annually. Mr. Guddye underlined the necessity for Africa to have a reliable, trusted and risk mitigating IFC to fervently advocate for funds, talents, and know-how onto the continent and stated that Mauritius is well-positioned to help Africa move up the value chain and achieve its developmental goals.
Ms. Dimakatso Malwela, Managing Director, Bleisure Africa asserted that Bleisure is a concept that drives Inter-Intra Africa Trade and Investment through Travel & Tourism and is one of the buildup events to the Africa Continental Trade and Investment Summit to be held later in the year. She underlined that the main objective of this exclusive conference is to promote and unlock Africa’s Investment & Trade opportunities and to enhance Mauritius’ profile as one of the best Tourism Destinations for MICE in Africa. It is worth noting that Mauritius has secured its position as the leading Indian Ocean MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) destination, with the tropical paradise island earning the prestigious Indian Ocean’s Best MICE Destination 2022 award at the 3rd annual World MICE Awards.
The hybrid event saw the participation of 40 delegates comprising 15 representatives from public and private sector from Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Namibia who have travelled to Mauritius to attend the forum.
The forum comprised three highly interactive panels namely, Exploring Trade and Investment Opportunities in Africa & the AfCFTA, Enhancing Africa Economic Recovery through Tourism and Global Opportunities for Africa (International Companies) where a number of key delegates and sector experts across several fields in Africa have shared their insights.
The panel sessions were moderated by Ms Samantha Seewoosurrun, Managing Director, Perpetual Motion
Panel 1: Exploring Trade and Investment Opportunities in Africa and the AfCTA
The session started off with a key statement that according to the Africa Union, 2023 is the year of the AfCTA. It was followed by an insightful presentation on Cote D’Ivoire. The country has a robust economic foundation contributing to some 40% of the economic output of the West African region.
Looking at the trade and investment potential through AfCTA, the discussions started with the Mauritian experience in managing its trade portfolio during the COVID-19 pandemic and how trade ultimately bounced back.
With the view to provide an outline of the requirements for the successful implementation of the AfCTA, besides connectivity, some USD 20 billion is required and it was highlighted that currently, there is some 50% deficit in infrastructural development in Africa. An investment budget to the tune of USD 400 billion is required to be raised through AfCTA to help in the development of Africa. The session ended with an overview of the offerings Mauritius has as a credible jurisdiction.
Panel 2: Enhancing Africa Economic Recovery through Tourism
It was highlighted that tourism is dependent on public-partnership collaboration with a growing emphasis on social aspects.
The post pandemic has allowed countries to put more emphasis on the domestic tourism market, which is a growing segment. There is also a need to change the perception that Africa is not a welcoming continent. Sustainability and digitisation are also a key factor to reach to the next level of development in the tourism industry. Tourism is no longer about source markets but more towards affinity and theme-based (such as adventures or gaming-based). Efforts should also be geared away to move from traditional source markets. MICE is the new key niche tourism-segment to be developed in Africa.
Panel 3: Global Opportunity for Africa (International Companies)
The panel started off by underlining the importance of the AFCFTA to create a single market for growth. The key offerings of the Mauritius International Financial Centre (MIFC) was showcased along with the new sophisticated products such as fintech, VCC and VAITOS. The importance of having a robust and well-regulated framework in the banking sector to support infrastructure and sustainable projects were also highlighted. The panellists also focused on Mauritius as a wealth management hub as well as ESG funding.
The main speakers included:
- Mr. Zamble Zephirin, Governor of Cote D’Ivoire,
- Mr. Yao Mathieu N’Guessan, Vice Governor, Cote D’ivoire,
- Ms. Nangula Uaandja, CEO, Namibia Investment Promotion and Development Board,
- Ms. Jean Scheltema, – Chief Marketing & Innovation Officer, Wesgro,
- Mr. Reason Machigere, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority,
- Cllr. Mesuli Ngqondwana, Executive Mayor, Or Tambo District Municipality & Provisional SALGA Chairperson,
- Mrs. Frida Owinga, President, Organisation of Women International Trade,
- Ms. Xoliswa Daku, CEO, Dako Group of Companies,
- Mr. Vinesh Chintaram, Director, VISIO Architecture,
- Mrs. Lilowtee Rajmun-Jooseery, Director, MEXA,
- Mr. Sunil Bheeroo, Managing Partner at Bheeroo Law Chambers,
- Mr. Ravin Dajee, CEO, ABSA Bank (Mauritius) and
- Mr. Samade Jhummun, CEO, Mauritius Finance.