The Republic of Mauritius has begun the vaccination of staff in the tourism industry in preparation of reopening its’ borders later in 2021. Mauritius is the first country in the world to classify staff who work in the tourism sector as front line to ensure they are fully protected when travel restrictions are lifted.
The roll-out of the vaccination programme for tourism workers including hotel employees, Air Mauritius and Airports of Mauritius staff and other front line tourism staff.
The chairman of the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Agency (MTPA), Nilen Vencadasmy said: “Mauritius is looking forward to welcoming back visitors to our Indian Ocean paradise island safe in the knowledge that we are a luxury Covid secure destination. Mauritius is vaccinating front-line tourism staff as they are essential to the safe reopening of our borders. 2020 has been a difficult year for everyone within the tourism sector and we are working closely with operators, airlines, hotels and other stakeholders at home and internationally to ensure that we can reopen safely and securely in 2021.”
With the vaccine now being distributed across the country to health care professionals and citizens with underlying health conditions which started last week, the government is prioritising the tourism sector to enable Mauritius to have a safe and secure reopening of the border for international visitors. The Government is monitoring the rollout of the vaccine and working with public health professionals, scientists and tourism stakeholders with a view to amending arrival protocols as soon as possible to welcome further international tourism arrivals.
The first batch of 100,000 Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines, produced by the Serum Institute of India, arrived from Mumbai on 22 January and were a donation from the government of India. The first vaccination on the island was administered on 26 January 2021. Initially 50,000 people are being vaccinated with two doses throughout January and February 2021 with two weeks between the first dose and the second dose. Further vaccinations will be delivered from March onwards.
Safely reopening borders to tourism
In the years prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, Mauritius welcomed up to 1.4 million visitors annually with tourism accounting for approximately 25% of GDP.
Protecting the future of tourism and its citizens is at heart of the government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. With tourism front-line staff being prioritised for the vaccine, the government has confirmed that the 14-day quarantine period will remain in place whilst the initial batch of vaccines are administrated to give public health experts and scientists an opportunity to analyse the rollout. New arrival protocols will include requiring all international visitors to present valid Covid-19 vaccination certificates.
Many operators in the Mauritius tourism industry have taken the opportunity to invest heavily during the period of international arrival restrictions, including the refurbishment of hotels and other tourism facilities. As a result, guests arriving in Mauritius later in 2021 will be able to experience even greater levels of luxury and service in a safe and secure environment.
Due to Mauritius’ strong public health response to the pandemic, the Indian Ocean island nation has seen an increase in demand for people looking to relocate to the Covid-secure island for the long term. As a result of demand, Mauritius launched the Premium Visa that allows long-stay visitors to work remotely, retire or enjoy an extended holiday for 12 months with the option to renew.
This long-term visa option will remain. The government of Mauritius is expected to announce requirements for all visitors to have valid vaccination certificates on arrival and will be outlining new arrival protocols based solely on public health and science.