Sustainable financing to support tourism actors in Mauritius

On 27 – 28 July 2020 the Sustainable Island Mauritius project co-organised a 2-day workshop on ‘Financial support and schemes to the tourism sector’ for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) together with SME Mauritius. The workshop’s goal was to inform tourism SMEs about existing financial schemes for COVID-19 recovery as well as about access to green finance for innovative and sustainable projects. The event was attended by over 400 participants.

The Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Housing and Land Use Planning, Minister of Tourism, Hon. Louis Steven Obeegadoo was one of the event guests.

About the reopening of borders and the relaunch of the industry, the Deputy Prime Minister highlighted: “Many risks and opportunities are linked to the reopening of the borders. We are going to multiply initiatives and continue to work for more innovations on how to better support this industry. With SME Mauritius, the Tourism Authority, the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority, support from the European Union and all partners, we are progressing towards the reopening of our borders as soon as possible and under a controlled set of conditions”.

Mr. Avinash Gopee, the Chairman of the Tourism Authority, the lead organisation implementing the EU-funded Sustainable Island Mauritius project said: “Following the numerous challenges that we face, this new era leads us to believe that sustainable tourism is more than ever a necessity in order to preserve the socio-economic resilience of Mauritius. Protecting local producers, preserving the terrestrial and marine environment, encouraging a circular economy, participating in the development of the community, producing, and consuming intelligently, are all parameters to be urgently considered. Therefore, the Tourism Authority is coming with a set of actions that are in line with the further dissemination of sustainability best practices in partnership with other organisations.”

In one of the sessions, SME Mauritius presented financing schemes available to SMEs to start investing in sustainable tourism practices. Mr. Michael L. F. Pompeia from SME Mauritius explained about types of green investments that can be financed through its green financing schemes. Particularly, he spoke about the acquisition of new machinery and process technologies; A/C software; ERP or similar tools; green and energy conserving technologies; and water treatment and solar panels. To be eligible to apply for the green financing schemes provided through SME Mauritius, a business should have been registered with the SME Registration Unit of the Ministry of SMEs. The enterprise should also have been operating for more than six months with a turnover of less than MUR 50 million.

Other stakeholders such as the Development Bank of Mauritius and the Mauritius Revenue Authority were also invited to explain the available schemes to support businesses in recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and its repercussions.

The Sunref scheme, via its two main commercial banks, MCB and SBM, offers green loans. All green projects are eligible for funding and operators are welcome to touch base with the respective banks.

The event served as an opportunity to inform tourism SMEs about the various financial support schemes provided by the government through SME Mauritius.

The Sustainable Island Mauritius project will work closely with all relevant stakeholders, including SMEs, to support the transition towards greening their business, thus helping to reduce the environmental footprint of the tourism sector and boosting sustainable growth.

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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.