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Vanilla Islands leaders unite for common cause – to become the new tourism cruise ship destination

Vanilla Islands leaders unite for common cause – to become the new tourism cruise ship destination ( Political and tourism leaders of the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands - Mauritius, Seychelles, Reunion, and Comoros - joined forces to make the Indian Ocean the new cruise ship destination.

Norbert Stiekema, the Vice President of COSTA Cruises, was on the island of Mauritius this week for meetings with political and tourism leaders of the Vanilla Islands (Mauritius, Seychelles, Reunion, and Comoros) in order to sit together to discuss ways and means to firstly increase cruise ships in the Indian Ocean region, and secondly to agree on keeping the COSTA cruise ships longer in ports when they are in the Indian Ocean.

The meeting that was chaired by Xavier-Luc Duval, the Deputy Prime Minister of Mauritius, was also attended by Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles Minister responsible for Tourism and Culture; Didier Robert, the President of the Regional Council of Reunion; Hissane Guy, the President of Comoros Tourism; Pascal Viroleau, the CEO of the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands, and their tourism office administration staff.

During the meeting that was held in Port Louis, Norbert Stiekema, the Vice President of COSTA Cruises, confirmed that following the MOU signed last year, COSTA Cruises would increase passenger numbers to the region from 5,280 to 18,864 for the seasons of 2016 and 2017. This will see an increase of port calls move from 4 to 12. Mr. Stiekema told the meeting of Indian Ocean political and tourism leaders that they realized more than ever before that little can be achieved alone, as he congratulated the approach of the Vanilla Islands to work together to make the region of the Indian Ocean stronger. Today, the region knows through statistics provided that their main target market for cruise ship passengers on the tour of the Indian Ocean islands are Germany, France, Italy, and Spain. These four countries are providing about 70% of the current market, and all 4 countries remain at the same time important source markets for free independent travelers to the region.

Mauritius Deputy Prime Minister Duval raised the proposition for a cruise ship to be based in the Indian Ocean on a year-round basis, and Minister St.Ange of the Seychelles wanted assurances that necessary arrangements would be organized for Seychellois nationals or residents in Seychelles to now be able to board COSTA Cruises when it docks in Port Victoria, and that the package offered would equate to what was on offer in Mauritius or Reunion Islands. The Seychelles Minister also wanted to see promotions for boarding in Seychelles for tourists wanting to fly to Seychelles for the start of their holidays before catching the cruise ship for an Indian Ocean region tour. Didier Robert, the President of the Regional Council of Reunion, re-echoed the need for COSTA Cruises to stay longer in the region's port on their stops, and Hissane Guy of Comoros on her part wanted to see more opening of her island to the world of cruise ships.

Following the meeting, Minister Alain St.Ange of the Seychelles said that it was encouraging for the Indian Ocean region to hear that there was what is being called an “explosion” in growth for cruise ship passengers in the Indian Ocean as some other regions are seeing a “pull back” approach because of increase in costs in excursions and port charges. “This is the result of our islands working as a united group under the banner of the Vanilla Islands. Pascal Viroleau worked tirelessly with the region's tourism ministers and with our tourism offices on increasing the visibility of the Indian Ocean. It is really a success for us and one we should all be proud about," said Minister St.Ange.

PHOTO: Didier Robert (Reunion), Hissane Guy (Comoros), Norbert Stiekema (COSTA Cruises), Xavier-Luc Duval (Mauritius), Alain St.Ange (Seychelles)&Pascal Viroleau (Vanilla Islands)


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