Mauritius has reopened its borders to international vaccinated travelers since 1er october. Jean-Charles Franchomme (Kit Voyages) was on site from November 11 to 15, as part of Operation Connect. We contacted him on Monday morning to share his feedback.
How are the entry formalities carried out between Paris and the island?
Jean-Charles Franchomme: Being doubly vaccinated, I carried out a PCR test 72 hours before the flight. I had completed the health form from France, 48 hours before departure. It is also possible to enter it on the plane, it’s very simple, without QR Code. But I still recommend filling out the full All-in-One form in advance to have a free mind. Once there, the checks by the authorities are quite random… a bit like everywhere in Europe this summer. Then, during check-in, the hotel gives its customers – and very often pays for – a kit to carry out a rapid antigen test. Those not staying in a hotel will need to take this test at the airport.
What are your first impressions ?
Jean-Charles Franchomme : The island is full. The hotels are full, so much so that I could not visit some of them. This is a very good recovery for the destination, undoubtedly beyond all expectations. There are a lot of French people. Some souvenir shops have empty shelves because the crowds are so high.
The new restrictions mainly target the local population.
Have you felt the new restrictions (at the level of bars, nightclubs, gatherings, etc.) put in place by the government?
Jean-Charles Franchomme : The new restrictions mainly target the local population. Mauritians, for example, do not have the authorization to organize these big picnics that they like to do on the beach. Proof of full vaccination and their identity card is now required from them to go to the restaurant. Nightclubs are closed. All these measures come after a week of great festivities in Mauritius, including the Divali Festival of Lights. The population then relaxed in terms of barrier gestures. A bit as if, during our own holiday season, we had found our loved ones without social distancing or masks. Otherwise, life is normal. And tourism is not at all responsible for the rise in Covid-19 cases.
What restrictions have you nevertheless experienced as a traveler?
Jean-Charles Franchomme: I went by taxi to Grand Baie yesterday, to experience the real local life. In restaurants, travelers must present proof of vaccination and proof of identity. Gauges are in place in these restaurants, it is recommended to reserve your table. On Sunday, the outdoor terraces of the bars were open. In minibuses and taxis, wearing a mask is required. But we often drop it in hotels, since we are usually outdoors. Once again, the measures are aimed more at locals, to encourage them to respect barrier gestures.
Nothing is blocking or constraining for those looking for distant sun.
For you, the recovery remains sustainable?
Jean-Charles Franchomme : It’s a very big top, while some local politicians imagined that it would be a flop. It’s even easier to come to Mauritius than to the West Indies, where the protocol still lacks clarity. Agencies have said on the Helpdesk that customers want to cancel their trip. I want to tell them that Mauritius is like before the crisis, Mauritians are still as warm. The reception is excellent. Access to spas* and swimming pools is normal. Nothing is blocking or constraining for those looking for distant sun. And then, if people have questions, it’s good to remember that it’s a French-speaking destination. It’s reassuring. The authorities recently reopened the borders. I don’t believe in closing borders at all. I don’t believe in backpedaling.
The destination has suffered more than 18 months of closures. Do we feel it on the spot?
Jean-Charles Franchomme : Very little. But it’s true, some planned renovations have taken a little delay. The fact that Mauritian contact cases are required to isolate themselves for 10 days may have slowed down work. And this complicates the resumption of activity in hotels. We are in a period of an extremely strong restart, which may explain why golf courses, for example, are not quite at their peak yet. It makes sense after more than 18 months of closure. But, since I started traveling again, it’s really the destination in which I felt the most comfortable. Life is like before the crisis for travelers. The health protocol is not heavy at all. We really need to reassure tourists in this regard. And to leave with peace of mind, you know me (laughs), I strongly advise travelers to go through an agency.
*A travel pro tells us that some hotel spas were closed in early November. Better to check before the trip with the establishments.
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