South Africans are flocking to Mauritius again – with arrivals at pre-pandemic levels

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  • Mauritius was closed to South Africans throughout much of the pandemic, with stable travel only restarting in January.
  • Since then, the island nation has welcomed 33,601 passengers from South Africa, recovering to more than 80% of pre-pandemic levels.
  • South African arrivals in Mauritius during April and May of this year exceed pre-pandemic levels of travel by almost 2%.
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South African travellers are flocking back to the popular holiday destination of Mauritius, with arrivals recovering to pre-pandemic levels.

Global travel is recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic, with some countries attracting back visitors quicker than others. While South Africa still has a long way to go before welcoming back the same level of international tourists seen before Covid-19, outbound travel, at least in the case of visits to Mauritius, is booming.

The island nation of Mauritius off the east coast of Madagascar has long been a popular holiday destination for South Africans. South Africa has traditionally been among the top five tourism source markets for Mauritius.

But this travel ground to a halt amid the Covid-19 pandemic. South African travellers were initially excluded from the first phase of Mauritius' reopening to international holidaymakers in July 2021. Flights only resumed in October, but this reopening was short-lived as Mauritius closed its borders to South Africa in reaction to the discovery of the Omicron coronavirus variant in late November.

This ban, along with many other international restrictions facing South African travellers, was lifted in January.

Since then, South Africans have jumped at the opportunity to visit Mauritius. Between January and May of this year, Mauritius welcomed 33,601 passengers from South Africa, recovering to more than 80% of pre-pandemic levels.

South African arrivals in April and May of this year, totalling 18,303, exceed pre-pandemic levels of travel by almost 2%. This bodes well for the island's recovery, and arrivals are expected to grow even more, according to the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority (MTPA).

"It is encouraging to see the arrivals numbers from South Africa to Mauritius for the first five months of 2022 rivalling those of pre-Covid 2019, and we expect this positive and upward trend to continue through the year and into 2023," said Arvind Bundhun, director of the MTPA, in a statement on Wednesday.

"We continue to work hard to promote this destination to our key markets globally, of which South Africa is a very important one."

The report on South African arrivals comes amid Mauritius' further relaxation of Covid-19 regulations, which came into effect on 1 July. The requirement for wearing face masks has been relaxed, except in public areas such as hospitals, airports, and on public transport. Additionally, tests for vaccinated and unvaccinated passengers upon arrival have been waived.

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