Mauritius fully opened its doors to international visitors on Friday, hoping to rebuild its vital tourism industry after long months of isolation because of the COVID pandemic.
The move was greeted with a mixture of optimism, relief and some caution in the Indian Ocean paradise.
“This reopening is inevitable because 100,000 families depend on tourism to live,” Deputy Prime Minister and Tourism Minister Steven Obeegadoo said at a press conference on Thursday.
He said 68 percent of the 1.3 million population had been fully vaccinated and 89 percent had received at least one dose, among the highest rates in the world.
The idyllic holiday destination, renowned for its spectacular white sandy beaches and turquoise waters, had partly reopened to vaccinated visitors in July for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic emerged in early 2020.
But they had to remain in “resort bubbles” for 14 days before being allowed to venture further afield.
The first planeloads of tourists were arriving from Dubai, Paris and London on Friday and will have to meet certain COVID-19 testing requirements during their stay.
Obeegadoo said the country had “prepared well” for the return of international visitors.
“At the same time, increased vigilance will be required to reduce the risk of further contamination,” he said.