A witness and a contributor to the development of tourism in Mauritius, the former General Manager of MTTB looks back on some significant moments in the history of the sector.
For Rogers, regional expansion is not just a recent concept. As early as 1953, Amédée Maingard, who was then running the company, decided to set up Transcontinents, in collaboration with Paul Giraud, a Mauritian who had been living in the Madagascan capital of Antananarivo since 1946. The agency’s current shareholders are Rogers Aviation Holding Company, Paul-France Giraud and Michel Pitot. It is both a travel agency and a tour operator, employing some thirty staff, as well as working with a dozen self-employed guides.
Nowadays, Paul-France Giraud runs the company co-founded by his father, Paul. “Our main activity was ticketing. Originally, there were only two airlines flying to Madagascar, Air France and TAI (a private French airline). Madagascan airspace gradually opened up and there are now seven airlines operating here – Air Austral, Air France, Air Madagascar, Air Mauritius, Corsair, Kenya Airways and South African Airways. This has led us to meet a demand for organising stays and tours overseas, where we have reliable partners.”
Tourism has developed much more slowly than in neighbouring places because of a less favourable political and economic context. The political crises of 1991, 2002 and 2009 each resulted in a set-back for the sector. For a long time, marketing focused on the seaside before Madagascar was repositioned as an adventure and discovery destination, which much better reflects its main attraction.
The private sector has invested a lot in tourism over the last ten years, so that hotel capacity has doubled.
However, of the 20,520 rooms available, only 12,000 are suited for tourist stays.
“Transcontinents has had some difficult moments but we have managed to overcome the various difficulties, helped by our affection for the country and our work. It has also been thanks to the trust the local authorities have had in us, the team spirit shown by our staff, the frank and loyal collaboration with our partners both here and abroad, and to Rogers’ unflinching support. Our parent company has always taken a long-term view of Madagascar,” Paul-France adds.
Indeed, on 17 October 2013, the longest established travel agency and tour operator in Madagascar will be celebrating 60 years of unbroken activity.