Saturday , 2 July 2022
For remaining true to the values of the regional Vanilla Islands affiliation, namely Madagascar, Mauritius, La Reunion, the Seychelles and the Comoros, keep on developing the pooling of its forces in order to boost tourism in the Indian Ocean. Air transport, marketing, tourist offers, paperwork ... are, just as facilities, unfinished business.

The Vanilla Islands united to develop tourism in the Indian Ocean

It has been taking eight years to the islands of the Indian Ocean Commission to materialize their project and make their concerted tourism development program a reality. The Vanilla Islands aims at pooling resources and market the travel destination brand together… and, of course, attract tourists… a big deal as a matter of fact due to competition with the new low cost seaside resorts emerging in Eastern Europe. The IOC countries are longing for the capitalization of a common strategy which proved efficient in boosting the Caribbean Islands’ market.
The Vanilla Islands are represented in international trade fairs and events as a single entity. Daphne Parisot, chairwoman of the Regional Office of La Reunion as well as marketing department leader for the National Tourism Office in Madagascar, suggests a synergy of resources for the sake of delivering a more sustainable message: “The visual impact of the Vanilla Islands concept is much larger” she said. The Indian Ocean islands’ tour operators are planning to offer combinations of two or more travel destinations so that “services are definitely worth the heavy expenses consented by tourists,” Daphne Parisot dixit.
To this end, airlines are encouraged to put “Pass Indian Ocean” offers on the market, in other words a discount on regional flights to passengers who originally purchased long distance flight tickets. The islands actually expect to build on the Seychelles islands’ excellent reputation, undisputedly the leading one in the whole Indian Ocean area. “We are trying to have collaborations and partnerships in the region”, said Marie Le Maguet, from the Tourism Committee of Mayotte. For a one-month stay, the tourist who visits Madagascar would be allowed to have a taste of the other islands. Eudoxie Beanjara from the Tourism Office of Diego Suarez is keen on capitalizing on cultural proximity, as far as she is concerned: “The board expects the creation of a Mahajanga Diego-Mayotte-package,” she said.
Tourism can also develop inside every single vanilla island. Madagascar has definitely lost ground as Nosy Be suffered a penalty. Tourists from La Reunion, who used to have habits of their own on Perfume Island as well as in Antsiranana moved towards the beaches of Mauritius, where the shark attack risk averages zero. Toamasina keeps on attracting tourists from La Reunion and France. The local regional office puts its money on eco-lodges and stays in the wilderness. National parks remain as per usual the best asset to Madagascar but the access to the endemic flora and fauna varieties are still found wanting. The Madagascar National Parks organization tackles the construction of facilities to welcome visitors… ecologic facilities of course.
Besides, Malagasy visitors also happen to be part of the other targeted customers. “We are trying to attract Madagascan tourists to the Comoros,” conceded Mahoran Marie Le Maguet. According to La Reunion’s Daphne Parisot, her island has a market section aiming at Malagasy expatriates from the upper class.