Workshop Series to empowering tour operators and hotels towards a sustainable re-starting of the tourism sector in Mauritius in the COVID-19 aftermath

Climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic and unsustainable consumption and production patterns are global challenges that severely affects our lives and compromises our ability to thrive in the future. In Mauritius, the tourism industry may overcome these challenges by integrating sustainability approaches in its value chains.

It is with this in mind that the Sustainable Island Mauritius project organised a series of online workshops targeting tour operators, hotels, and other key stakeholders in the tourism sector to inspire and capacitate them to become more resilient and sustainable by developing, promoting, and delivering sustainable tourism products to the mainstream market, particularly when Mauritius restarts its tourism in the COVID-19 aftermath.

The SIM Online Workshop Series consisted of 5 inter-dependent thematic workshops, each building upon the other and was held over a period of nine weeks in May and June 2021. Participants got the latest tourism insights and the supporting tools to develop new tourism products and services to fit the new realities.

During the workshop series, we have dived deep into a number of topics including global trends and local challenges; your impacts; your products; measuring your progress; and communicating & marketing your sustainability progress. The key questions that tour operators, hotels and other key stakeholders had to reflect about and answer during the sessions included, the trends and local challenges that influence their businesses; how they can contribute to a sustainable Mauritius; how they can evaluate how sustainable their products are; and how they can measure and track their sustainability; how sustainability can help improve their company’s image and profile; and finally what is and how they can access green finance?

The SIM Project shared a few tools developed by the project with the participants of the workshop including the following:

  • SIM Impact Monitoring Tool
  • Company Self-Diagnosis Tool
  • Product Diagnosis Tool
  • 4 How-To Flyers / Improvement Guidelines
  • Communication Tool

In between the workshop series the project also offered a 1:1 expert coaching session to participants who were keen on learning how to use the tools shared during the workshop.

Interactive sessions and the Q&A sessions that were incorporated in all the workshops ensured active participation and full engagement by all participants in each workshop and that their ideas and insights were well captured in the process.

Below are some comments from various workshop participants through the feedback survey conducted after the workshop:

“I like that we have had time to share ideas on what we are doing in our business and on how to improve further to better make our tour/operation more sustainable.”

“Liked the interactive sessions, could have imagined discussing some of the topics more in-depth”

“This was my first webinar, and it has been quite insightful. The resources persons were quite knowledgeable. I cannot wait to attend the next one!”

“Online workshops are always more difficult to animate than a real one. Well done to the team…”

We hope that the participants got lots of inspirations on their sustainability journey and impetus for post COVID-19 recovery, and that the insights and tools shared with them will support them in their daily operations once the tourism sector in Mauritius re-opens.

As a next step, the SIM Project has extended an invitation to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that took part in the workshop series to become one of the project’s pilot hotels or tour operators. With this the project team hopes to continue working together with the Tourism Authority (Mauritius) to provide more support to the SMEs and guide them in using the tools in adopting and implementing green measures and tracking their progress.

Finally, the SIM Project is also planning to organise an Award Ceremony by next year, which will reward sustainable champions for their significant commitment and progress in adopting and implementing their sustainable practices that the project has incurred to them.

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Improving Sustainaible Tourism In Mauritius through Greening the Value Chain of Tour Operators (SUS-ISLAND) is a Switch Africa grand project funded by the European Commission and led by Mauritius Tourism Authority. Its objective is to promote sustainaible tourism in Mauritius by demonstration and scaling up a self-sustaining mechanism for improving  sustainaibility impacts along the value chain improving awareness and market of sustainaible tourism products.