Good news! Mauritius has lifted their curfew and people are mostly allowed to move freely. Borders remain closed but the country has not recorded any new cases for more than a month. The destination is actively preparing and putting new practices in to place and the WTTC have recognised these efforts by naming Mauritius as a safe destination in relation to Covid 19.
The team at Coquille Bonheur have been hard at work during lockdown to create and put in place new Health and Safety systems for their own services, as well as working with the hotels and experiences in Mauritius to ensure they are ready for when the borders open. In the meantime, Christian has answered our 10Q’s which will give you an insight into what has been happening on the Island and what is planned.
1. Please introduce yourself by telling us what inspired you to start CB?
Drawing on my background, with more than 35 years of wealthy experience in destination management companies, hotels, island and safari lodges, ferry & leisure boats, travel, aviation, car rental, and finance, in different countries, Comores, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Seychelles and Mauritius, I decided to switch gears in October 2006 and founded a happy family business, Coquille Bonheur (CB). I wanted CB clients to be overjoyed and likewise employees to be enthusiastic about being part of the company.
2. Did you always dream of working in this industry or did you set out to do something else? What led you to where you are now?
My dream was to be an entrepreneur and to have a business of my own. I had the opportunity to start as an Accountant in a hotel for a few years. I was then seconded on duty overseas for nearly 12 years in different countries in the region and Africa. I fell in love with the hospitality business, mainly taking care of people. When I came back home (Mauritius), I had the chance to at last launch my own business with at heart our clients and our staff in a responsible way.
3. What has been your greatest challenge(s) along the way with CB?
No one can be an expert in everything. I would say that the main challenge has been the importance of building trust by practising openness and fairness, and by being a role model myself.
4. What one ‘thing’ has been integral to your journey from the start?
I always believe that the future of the tourism industry lies in companies taking responsibility beyond the single bottom line. The principle of sustainability into the business must be embedded with sincerity and loyalty.
5. Do you have a favourite area of Mauritius and why?
I do. My favourite area is by far the village of Chamarel. Mainly for its breathtaking scenic locations and natural attractions. I learned to love nature during my stay in Zimbabwe and I chose Chamarel as it is the most beautiful part of the island where you will find miles of trails, acres of undulating valleys, plunging waterfalls and thick green forest.
6. What is your favourite season or time of year in Mauritius?
Mauritius is a whole year-round season destination. The country has two seasons: a summer from November to April and a relatively cool dry winter from June to September. The average temperature in Summer is around 25˚C and in Winter it is 20˚C, very little difference between the two. The answer is obvious !!!
7. What are your top three reasons for visiting Mauritius?
a) The kindness of the locals and its cultural diversity
b) The beauty of its beaches and the marine area
c) Nature and its climate
8. What is the most pressing issue for you right now, in terms of the impact of Covid 19?
Tourism Business is hit tremendously with the spread of the pandemic and has cast a huge shadow over the global economic outlook. The Covid-19 outbreak has become a human tragedy. It is a major and evolving challenge to keep employment and the business afloat.
9. What can people do to support conservation and communities where you are, during this time?
It’s an opportunity for humanity to press on the reset button. It’s the right time to educate people on how to be responsible towards nature. We do care about society and the environment. We will pursue with effective ways to protect nature and integrate social strategies in our activities.
We have not been able to be on the move with the curfew and confinement but with the ever-needed focus on sustainability, CB will dramatically step up the pace of implementation of all the sustainable projects it has been working on. In the situation that we are, we are helping people with basic needs as far as we can.
10. Is there anything you would like to say to past and potential guests and the travel trade community?
I would like to express my sincere thanks for the daily encouraging messages that we receive from our international partners and guests who continue to support our company and the destination.
Our country has more than one feather in its straw hats. Mauritius is a true holiday destination known for its legendary hospitality. Its people are at the heart of the tourism industry. As a country, we are looking forward to the time where we would have the great pleasure to warmly welcome you back with a passion for our profession, love for our Island and respect to you.
Our concerns for health & safety, social commitment and sustainable tourism are more than a sine-qua-non condition for the future landscape of the travel business. In response to the post COVID-19, CB has worked on rigorous hygiene protocols and standards to better welcome and serve you. The health and safety of our guests and staff remains our highest concern and priority.
We were in Mauritius in February and the friendliness of the people, the beauty of the clear seas and eclectic mix of mountains, verdant forests and cultures left a lasting impression. We do hope it won’t be long until we can all return.