Press release

A major tourism challenge has been set by representatives of Tourist Offices of the Indian Ocean. The “Vanilla Islands” project, which aims to pair up the islands, by uniting and enhancing the assets of the islands in the area for a shared tourism development, is taking shape through encounters between tourism professionals.

What are the “Vanilla Islands”?

Under the aegis of the UCOI, the “Vanilla Islands” marketing concept was defined in August 2010, in a meeting between representatives of Tourist Offices in the area at the Réunion Chamber of Commerce.
Tourism professionals are aware that the development of tourism in Réunion, Mauritius, Madagascar, the Seychelles, the Comoros and Mayotte comes through pooling resources and specific know-how.
This is why the concept of “vanilla”, a natural, gastronomic and touristic feature shared by the islands of the Indian Ocean, paves the way for launching a brand which strengthens the reputation of these destinations and for better selling these locations, both nationally and internationally.

Reinforcing and facilitating couplings:

At first, the concept of the “Vanilla Islands” will strengthen tourism initiatives (transport and partnerships) which already exist between the islands and facilitate the implementation of bilateral initiatives between the others.

The objective – to make the multi-faceted drawing power of the Indian Ocean more dynamic.

In this respect, there are pairs such as - Mayotte-Madagascar, Réunion-Maurice, Réunion-Seychelles, Réunion-Madagascar, etc.

Each destination has its specific features – the upmarket tourism of Mauritius offered by its hotels and tourism services, the green tourism of Réunion, and the fact that the Seychelles is made up of many islands, to name but a few. There are also assets shared by the “Vanilla Islands” – Creole heritage, the beauty of the landscapes, the foreign languages, the mix of cultures (Francophone, Anglophone and Creole)…

Developing the reputation of the Indian Ocean

The “Vanilla Islands” project can only be of benefit to Réunion and the other islands in making them better known on the international market.
Tourist offices will firstly focus on the differences and specific features of the cultural and natural heritage of each region.
Inter-island tours will be facilitated, in terms of transport, entry formalities on the territories and partnerships between hoteliers.
The Indian Ocean Pass, already used by Air Madagascar, with unlimited trips within the regional network at a flat rate, constitutes the working base for the Tourist offices.
Based on the same model, in 2010, inter-regional products and flight routes were developed by the same company between France and Moroni, Réunion and Nairobi, Anjouan and Nosy Be, etc.

The “Vanilla Islands” concept also makes sense from a historical and geographical point of view. Solidarity between the islands has become the watchword for relaunching the economy and creating jobs in the tourism industry. Pooling each of the island’s resources and assets, rather than competing with one another – this is the new context!

The initiatives and budget of the “Vanilla Islands” project, scheduled to be carried out in early 2011 were unveiled on 3 and 4 December at the Enjoy Indian Ocean fair in Madagascar.

Barbara Laup

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