Vanilla Islands Seek Chinese Influx

Indian Ocean island project engages Chinese and Asian markets

The Vanilla Islands is a tourism initiative that markets various islands of the Indian Ocean, together, to the rest of world. Conceived in 2010, the organisation groups the Comores, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mayotte, Reunion and the Seychelles into a co-operative island collective. A primary task is to promote interisland packages allowing tourists to hop easily from one destination to another. Costa Cruises is the first international operator to launch cruises in the region while Reunion air carrier Air Austral offers a special Vanilla Islands Pass. Other initiatives look at implementing the same standards of quality across all the islands such as accommodation, ground transportation and guides, as well as promoting the islands to specific tourism segments such as luxury. Beside European markets, Vanilla Islands want to target Asia and, in particular, China. Honeymoon, luxury tourism, diving, golf and soft adventure are deemed the main activities to attract Chinese customers. In recent years, visa conditions have been simplified and air connectivity improved. Air Mauritius now flies to four destinations in China as well as to Hong Kong. Since February, a code-share flight between Air Madagascar and Air Austral link Antananarivo-St Denis/Reunion to Guangzhou twice a week. Air Mauritius offers more flights via Kuala Lumpur with Malaysia Airl ines whi le Air Austral proposes connections to China with Thai Airways International, also offering flights to Bangkok