Mauritius beckons Chinese travelers

First direct flight between island and China lands in Shanghai

SHANGHAI – The recent double-digit increase in the number of Chinese travelers going overseas will provide opportunities for many countries, which rely heavily on revenue from tourism.

The latest development comes from the island of Mauritius, whose first direct flight landed in Shanghai on Tuesday afternoon.

The flight between the southern Chinese city and The Republic of Mauritius will shorten travel times to and from the African island nation, and encourage more Chinese travelers, said experts.

Operated by Air Mauritius Ltd, the flight will initially shuttle between the two destinations once a week, with a stopover in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Previously, Chinese passengers had to change planes at Singapore or Hong Kong. “By this direct flight, travelers can save both time and money,” said Li Yan, an employee with Shanghai Spring International Travel Service Co Ltd, the parent company of the budget carrier, Spring Airlines Co Ltd, which is based in the city.

According to Li, travel to Mauritius is popular with young, white-collar workers who speak English, and only need assistance to book air tickets and hotels. And the direct flight will save between 1,500 yuan ($232) and 2,000 yuan. A five-night stay on the island will cost just under 10,000 yuan, including airfare and hotels, according to Li.

“More than 50 travelers went to the island though our agency in May and June, and thanks to the launch of the direct flight, we have received even more enquiries,” she said.

A delegation of senior Mauritian officials, led by President Anerood Jugnauth, attended the launching ceremony.

“We are convinced that this new service will act as a boost to cultural, economic and tourist exchanges between China and Mauritius,” said Donald Payen, executive vice-president of Air Mauritius.

According to Payen, the present service to Shanghai will evolve into a nonstop flight in February 2012, ahead of the Chinese New Year, and if demand warrants it, a second flight will be added by October 2012.

Direct flights between Shanghai to Mauritius will take 14 hours, two hours less than before. When introduced, a nonstop flight will further shorten the trip to 11 hours.

With the increase in the number of flights to China, Mauritius expects to receive up to 50,000 Chinese visitors annually by 2020, according to Nandcoomar Bodha, the Mauritian minister of Tourism and Leisure as quoted by the Xinhua News Agency in June.

“China’s growing demand for overseas tourism has encouraged many nations to launch direct flights to Chinese cities recently,” said He Jianmin, a professor of tourism management at Shanghai University of Finance and Economics.

More than 57 million Chinese went abroad in 2010, and this figure will rise by 10 percent annually during the 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-2015), said He.

Source: China Daily

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