The push was to continue the expansion of Mauritius’ prime export product, high quality resort hotels. The traditional resorts had already filled up the prime spots – the coast between Port Louis and Grand Baie in the north, the area around Le Morne, then the Bel Mare and Palmar coasts, a few in the far south east and finally the stretch in the west around the bizarrely named Flic-en-Flac. Once these areas were filled up the new developments skirted round the fringes on marginally picturesque coastline (even inland areas in some cases) and most recently turned to the rocky, harsh currents of the south coast.
Surprisingly some exquisite coastline remained undeveloped – one stretch between the most southerly point on the island, Gris Gris, and the lagoons west of the airport was the largest. The five areas that were identified as pressure points were as follows:
Grand Baie – an obvious one since this was about as heavily developed as the coastline got and closer to a holiday town than the other resort orientated locations.
Belle Mare and Palmar – on the east coast dominated by some huge resorts.
Ile D’Ambre – a potential hot spot in the north east which was mostly mangrove lined lagoons
Le Morne – another cherry in the tourism dessert , including a world heritage site
The South Coast – enigmatic choice since it has no development at all so not easy to see how it was pressured.
What surprised us was that several other hot spot areas were ignored – the well developed coastline between Port Louis and Grand Baie, Flic en Flac , Mahebourg near the airport, the coastline south west of Port Louis. But as you may have realised we were not necessarily party to the final decision and any attempt at scientific reasoning was never going to work, so in the time honoured way a consultant bites his tongue and gets on with it we started to analyze these five areas.
We had a whole series of things to do; we had to see what the current resources on land and sea were, we needed to see what activities were there and what the “stakeholders’” visions of what they wanted would be, discuss options, management methods and a roadplan. I was quite happy my role was limited to the documentation of what was there, and for that I worked with our survey expert, Jeremy Hills, to design a methodology.