Dear Valued Stakeholders,

We have moved into this new year emboldened by the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccination campaigns around the world, geared to stem out the spread of the pandemic. This has inevitably resulted in expectations of a rapid return to normal for Governments, businesses and citizens.

Indeed, as the Bank of Mauritius confirmed during its last Monetary Policy Committee Meeting where it maintained the repo rate at 1.85%, there are signs of recovery since the third quarter of 2020, particularly in consumption and investment. It is expected that for 2021, GDP would grow by 7.9%. On the investment front, in 2021, FDI inflows are forecasted to reach MUR 20 billion while local investment is expected to be around MUR 37 billion.

With regard to market diversification, Mauritius has an opportunity to shift from its over-reliance on traditional export markets with the advent of the Mauritius-China FTA and the African Continental FTA. The imminent ratification of the Mauritius-India CECPA will also help in this direction. Moreover, these new agreements will guarantee a preferential market access to 68% of the world’s population.

The start of a year is also an opportune time for us to assess our situation and reflect on strategies to curtail systemic deficiencies exposed by the pandemic. Nonetheless, it is worth acknowledging the efforts made to counter COVID-19 in Mauritius by authorities, with the strict but necessary measures such as the lockdown and the closure of borders resulting in our island being COVID safe with limited disruption to social life since June 2020 while other countries are having to experience second and third waves of the pandemic.

This places us today as a formidable destination for foreign talents to migrate to Mauritius. Indeed, despite lingering risks, the country has seen an increase in demand from visitors looking to relocate to a secure and COVID-safe environment for work, leisure or retirement. In this respect, the Premium Visa, a well-incentivized and bespoke package, has been introduced which allows for extended stays of 12-months with an option for further extensions.

Such alternative products are important as the tourism sector faces mounting pressure from the economic tailwinds of the pandemic. In fact, the EDB has estimated that one premium visa holder’s contribution to GDP would be equivalent to at least that of 15 tourists.

Since the launch of the Premium Visa in mid Nov 2020, it is worth noting that more than 350 applications have been registered on the online portal from 45 different countries, which indicates that the appetite for foreigners to work-live-play in a COVID-safe destination is at an all-time-high and far outstrips the challenges we are facing.

While we find new means and avenues of addressing the situation in tourism and hospitality, we aim to reshape our investment, exports and business ecosystem to better align our economy to the exigencies of the new economic architecture which is emerging.

Let us all work together to promote Mauritius as a COVID-safe destination.

Mr. Hemraj Ramnial, CSK