Eco-tourism is a sector in Mauritius' tourism industry that is just beginning to expand. Although Mauritius is more popularly known for its white sands and scenic beaches, it actually contains vast areas of natural parks that house an extensive range of flora and fauna.
While majority of the tourists reside in resort hotels to experience the excitement offered by Mauritian waters, majority of them look for activities outside of the beach
after a few days. According to a report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, tourists in Mauritius spend an average of ten days in the island. During their stay, they usually look for nature-based activities and this is where the eco-tourism sector comes in.
Eco-tourism is being promoted by the government because aside from the revenue it brings to the country (about US$ 5,000,000), it provides knowledge and promotes conservation of the islandís flora and fauna. The eco-tourism industry is expected to expand in the next few years. The number of tourists in 2020 is anticipated to reach 1.2 million. The demand for eco-tourism will therefore increase. This will have direct impact on biodiversity and national economy as more revenue is to be expected from a greater number of tourists. This revenue can be used to fund forest conservation projects. Furthermore, the expansion of the eco-tourism industry will also benefit the labor sector as more employment is likely to result. The private sector is likewise benefiting from the governmentís eco-tourism thrust. There are now guided safari tours and day tours that visit ecologically-rich places.
One of the commonly visited spots that promote eco-tourism is the SSR Botanical Garden, located in the proximity of Port Louis. Also called the Pamplemousses Botanical Garden, it is home to giant lilies and various tropical plants. One of its main attractions is the talipot palm, which is said to flower only once in sixty years and then dies.
Tourists are also sure to find trips to natural parks invigorating. The Black River Gorge National Park, enclosing 6,754 hectares of wildlife, is a sure treat to any nature enthusiast. Aside from its flora and fauna, the park is also famous for containing the Alexandra waterfall, a perfect backdrop to the hills of Black River Gorge. The walk through the park is likewise exciting, as one will be able to walk through trails lined with Chinese guava and wild sugarcane.
On the northern part of Mauritius lies Labourdonnais Orchards, another eco-tourism hotspot. The Orchards is teeming with tropical fruit trees and exotic flowers. Visitors can either go hiking or mountain biking. There is also Ile aux Aigrettes on the south east of Mauritius. This 26-hectare landscape has been declared a Natural Reserve in 1965. Ile aux Aigrettes aims to provide refuge to critically endangered endemic species of birds and flowers. It shelters the endangered Bois de Chandelle, the ornate day gecko, the Mauritius pink pigeon, the Aldabra giant tortoise and a host of other endemic species threatened by extinction. On the same part of the island lies Domaine du Chasseur, an immense hunting ground where stags, monkeys and boars dwell amidst lush vegetation.
So if you're planning for a trip to Mauritius, donít think only of beaches and water sports. The eco-tourism industry is very much alive. There are so many eco-tourism activities that can be included in your itinerary. You can go mountain climbing, biking or hiking on verdant hills and forests. With these nature trips included, you are sure to find your vacation more exciting and fulfilling.