Yes the postcards and the photos of paradise at the travel agent in various European cities and scattered across the globe of pristine tropical paradise in the Indian Ocean, and the cliché; what an island, what a destination thing.
However, for all the glamour and marketing done in the airline brochures that were in front of your seat on the airline, there is a real problem or a situation in Mauritius to make it sound nice. And it starts with two things; present government and awareness and Mauritius Ile Durable (Mauritius Durable Island – central environmental policy).
Tourists and Mauritians benefit from the resources and processes provided by coastal waters of Mauritius, the island logically being fringed almost entirely by coral reefs brings an important economic and social interaction.
When you look at the coral reefs here, you do not need to be a scientist or an economist to know that they attract tourists, which in turn boots local economies in Mauritius. Tourism is the world’s largest industry holistically speaking in terms of revenue and it sustains millions of jobs.
Undoubtedly, tourism in Mauritius, based on its business model, brings many benefits to the Mauritian economy and to many localities; it does however have to be sustainably managed with proper planning coupled with managerial technique so to speak.
Management of the environmental impacts of the tourism industry and for that matter all industries in Mauritius has somewhat been allusive.
Overshadowed by economic or monetary gain, typical of transient economies or developing economies like Mauritius. Lacking foresight about the future and the sustainability of the ountry, especially when the public sector is concerned, is a dangerous game to play, we will not pay for it now however, but the bill is racking up the dollars, the bank interest is going to be immense. Mother nature will want its rent, it’s doing it now, and we just have not seen the final bill.
Now throw a hoodwinked government into the pan, and what do you have?
Yes reports have been submitted, projects are underway, awareness has been created and yeah more reports and strategies have been outlined, and yes we have Ile Durable!
Ile Durable, the all-encompassing environmental solution to all our problems and issues, rolled like a bowling ball ready to bowl over our environmental degradation matters, which so far into the epic story utters through the governments rhetoric and meaningless thoughts, because let’s be honest, they are just thoughts jotted on a paper and dressed up to go the 5 star hotel at this stage, since 2008 that is.
The government points out to the Mauritian people and the independent media that they are tackling the environmental issues at hand and say they are being proactive in bringing on and driving home the solutions but really it is just a marketing campaign dressed up in nice shiny shoes to say to Mauritians and the world that the country is on target to maintain its paper strategy and that conservation and sustainability, whether it be land or sea, is being adequately managed.
Ile Durable at this stage in its development is erring on the side of the Singapore project thing, remember that thing it goes like this; we want to base Mauritius on Singapore and be like Singapore etc. etc., no wonder Mauritians don’t take their government seriously, you got to laugh, Mauritius is not a banana republic per say, it has bananas in government, Maurice Ile Durable is reflecting some of these ideals as well.
Currently, many Mauritian citizens either don’t care about it, are not aware of it, or even worse, think it’s just another misinformed government project, that well, many Mauritians have been so accustomed too amid a communalist background set out by the government to divide the masses. And of course in a country where an 85 year old president who can still have an effect on its people, and roads that take an eternity to be built, you got to wonder where Ile Durable is going with the present government, and I have no political affiliation here, it’s just common sense.
It boils down to two explanations: them and us theory i.e. government and its citizens! In addition, the rule of constant awareness of a country’s citizens! On one side of the ring you have, the democratic government, its story goes like this on Ile Durable:
We are doing reports, we are doing another report with Long Term strategy’s, we have another long term strategy that’s even longer that the first one, and we are going to have consultation with this guy and that NGO and buy us some wind turbines and create thermal energy, etc. etc.
This is what the Mauritian citizens are saying: Umm we do not know what it is this Ile Durable thing! When are you going to tell us about it, what is it going to cost, what about green jobs, what is a blue economy, and last but not least, Mauritians are just maybe fed up with the whole lot of it and just more interested in going to shopping malls to drown their sorrows in serious buying, because as its stands, the government is really out of touch with it all.
When I attended school in my early child life, one of my teachers told me to condense facts and structure plans, make people see what you are trying to achieve (this promotes understanding), and use distinction in communicating your ideas properly in a concise fashion and if you have written a report, what makes it better than just a bunch of English words on paper.
At this stage in Mauritian history, words speak louder than actions, contrary to popular belief, politicians may need to go back to school land and learn how to seriously sell their Maurice Ile Durable fantasy.