What could be a better business than tourism in a world-class tourist destination? At first sight, investing in this sector is a banker choice. The rationale behind every country’s progress is the improvement in the lives of its population. Through this logic, a foreign investor has to understand that many of the tourism-based businesses are very selective when it comes to foreign participation. Some are completely inaccessible to non-Mauritians.
Some examples: in a tour operator business, foreign investment should be at least MUR 5 million and in the case of commercial exploitation of a boat, the price of the boat should be at least MUR 10 million.
The selective strategy seems to have worked fine ever since it was introduced. Unless the foreign investor meets a minimum investment criteria or abides to certain specific conditions, he will not be allows to open a tourism business in Mauritius. Conditions include innovation, technology, international brand name & franchise of repute, services / products on international demand and which are difficult to supply by Mauritians.
The underlying condition is to allow Mauritians the first rank in terms of opportunities whilst maintaining an open-door to non-Mauritians who can afford higher investments. Under this strategy locals are not overtaken in what may otherwise be an unfair competition against the power of foreign currencies.
Businesses which are classified as Tourism and which require a Tourism Enterprise License (TEL) are :
Restaurant with 40+ seating
Sea-based entertainment (excursions, sight-seeings, dolphins watch, etc)
Golf course operation
The tourism industry is a sensible area and thus it falls within a highly regulated framework, from the application phase up to management and compliance. Application procedures require the intervention of various authorities; fire department, police, Ministry of Health and the Tourism Authority.
The applicant has to present the following documents in his application:
Duly filled in & signed application forms
Details on the exact location of activities (site plan, building permits, letter of authorization from owner in lieu of rental agreement, etc.)
Precise details on the proposed activity (foreigners have to submit a full business plan)
Identity documents of the company and its promoters
Application fees of Rs1000
On receipt of the full application, the Tourism Authority will activate its internal procedures and solicit the other concerned bodies in the process. On-site checks will be carried out by the Police, Fire Department and Ministry of Health. They will provide their reports through internal correspondence to the Tourism Authority, which will then issue a Letter of Intent. This document will list the conditions that the promoter has to abide to, and includes a go-ahead to proceed with all expenses and investments (bringing the space to norm, acquisition of assets, etc.). To note that the Tourism Authority recommends that no investment be carried out prior to issue of this Letter of Intent. This Letter is an agreement in principle to the project, based on certain specific conditions that the promoter must meet, for instance for every 8-meter square of dining space, a restaurant has to provide one parking space.
Besides the conditions for a Tourism Licence, a foreigner should note that any intention to stay in Mauritius under a permit shall also meet the criteria of such permit. If the promoter wishes to obtain an Investor Occupation Permit, then he has to abide to a minimum investment of USD100,000 and present a business plan meeting the require minimums for annual turnover.
In any case, our team handles such assignments for years now. If you have any question or would like the assistance of an experience team, talk to us today.