Academic journal article Review of Business & Finance Studies

Prospects and Challenges of Business Tourism: A Case of Mauritius

Academic journal article Review of Business & Finance Studies

Prospects and Challenges of Business Tourism: A Case of Mauritius

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

The study investigates the prospects of business tourism in the small island developing state of Mauritius. Mauritius is predominantly known as a beach holiday resort for hedonist tourist and limited attention has been provided to business tourism. Past studies have revealed that business tourism provides significant economic contributions, however little academic attention has been provided to business tourism in small islands. The research highlights the characteristics of business tourism in Mauritius with a focus on the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions market. The study discusses the characteristics of business tourism emphasizing on its prospects and challenges as a tourism development strategy in Mauritius. A qualitative approach was adopted where key informants in the business tourism sector were interviewed to examine topic under scrutiny.

JEL: L83, 015, 024

KEYWORDS: Business Tourism, Events, Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, Mauritius

INTRODUCTION

Mauritius is a well-established beach resort in the Indian Ocean and strategically positioned at the intersection of Africa and Asia, at 855 km east of Madagascar (Bramer Asset Management, 2010) with a population of 1,3 million (CSO, 2011). However, Mauritius has not been performing at its peak for the past few years (AHRIM, 2012). This is due to the decline in the number of international tourists from European markets following the Euro zone crisis and the result of direct competitors such as Maldives, Seychelles and Sri Lanka (AHRIM, 2012). While Mauritius recorded a negligible increase in its number of international tourist arrivals in 2011 compared to 2010 (+3.2%), growth was higher in competing destinations, with +18% for Maldives, +11% for Seychelles and +31% for Sri Lanka. Therefore, to sustain its tourism industry as one of its major economic pillars, efforts need to be carried out to remain competitive.

On a global basis there is an unprecedented interest for business tourism in attractive and quality surroundings. As stated by the World Travel &Tourism Council (1999), to make Mauritius a strong brand, it should promote other tourism products like event tourism. Diversification of tourism has the potential to add value to a destination's product offering to attract tourists. However, it also represents a challenge for the local stakeholders on various fronts. This study was initiated to investigate a topic which is yet unexplored in small island destinations. The aims of this study are to examine the characteristics of the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events (MICE) sector in Mauritius, its prospects to tourism industry and the challenges involved in MICE tourism. The next sections discuss the literature review followed by the methodology, results and discussion, and conclusion.

LITERATURE REVIEW

MICE: A Component of Business Tourism

Business tourism is a highly profitable segment of the tourism industry and consists of all trips related to the travel of employees or business interests (Haven-Tang et al., 2007). It relates to meetings and conferences, incentives, exhibitions, trade fairs, incentive travel, events and corporate hospitality (BTP, 2005). The MICE industry has grown over the past decades. It is not only known as a service industry but also as one of the fastest growing sectors of the tourism industry (Dwyer & Forsyth, 1997; Hing et al, 1998). This industry combines different sectors such as trade, transport, travel, leisure, accommodation, food and beverage, venues, information technology and finance. Described as a multifaceted industry (Dwyer & Mistilis, 2000), the MICE acronym consist of the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (Dwyer & Mistilis, 2000; Campiranon & Arcodia, 2008; Getz, 2008; McCartney, 2008; Rogerson, 2012; Gibson et al., 2012), which in most destinations fall under the umbrella of the events industry (Getz, 2008). …

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