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Tourism on thin ice in Mauritius after Prime Minister switch

In 1984 Mauritius’ president named veteran politician Sir Anerood Jugnauth as prime minister, after the 84-year old won a landslide victory taking nearly three-quarters of seats in parliament.

In 1984 Mauritius’ president named veteran politician Sir Anerood Jugnauth as prime minister, after the 84-year old won a landslide victory taking nearly three-quarters of seats in parliament.

The announcement yesterday by Mauritius Prime Minister Sir Anerood Jugnauth that he was stepping down in favor of his son, who is the current Minister of Finance in the ruling coalition government, did not come entirely unexpected but nevertheless rattled the country, and more important, the crucial tourism sector.

Political turmoil in neighboring Madagascar a few years ago all but wiped out tourism and given the resignation of four coalition ministers a few weeks ago, when Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism Xavier Luc Duval walked his party out of the coalition, already left a sour taste in the mouths of many tourism stakeholders.

‘Mauritius has very well recovered from some shaky marketing in past years. Our island is on the way to establish its lead again in tourism arrivals for Indian Ocean islands. Occupancies have risen. But we do not need Madagascar-type divisions and turmoil, tourism needs predictability and stability. So yes, we are apprehensive because the opposition wants new elections and that would be a great challenge for our industry’ responded a periodic commentator from Port Louis on condition of anonymity.

Sir Anerood, now 86 years old and having been Prime Minister several times during his political career besides holding the office of President of Mauritius between 2003 and 2012, announced he would formally tender his resignation on Monday and was putting his son Praveen Jugnauth, aged 55, forward to succeed him in office.

An opposition is building to the move already with calls for an early election though it appears that the move is legal similar to successions in Britain where a Prime Minister can resign and his party then chooses a successor without going to the polls. Fears are rising that the opposition may fuel unrest. Demonstrations organized by the opposition may be in the pipeline. All of this could bring negative headlines for the island country and has an impact on tourism arrivals.