Neha Johri Country Manager – India, Reunion Island Tourism
Christine Nayagam September-October 2016
Aura of unexplored mystery, Reunion Island
Reunion Island, still widely unknown despite the breathtaking landscapes and natural sites, is an ideal destination for Indian tourists as well as the Bollywood Industry.
What are the assets of Reunion Island that make the destination unique?
The major asset of the Reunion island is our volcano, which is our USP, which no other island or may be other destination will provide you. And it is not only the volcano, it is actually a tourist attraction for people, basically from India, because nobody has known about a volcano which is so safe to see. It is not just an island that has only beaches, sea and lagoons, but we also have a mountain which rises 3000m above from the sea level. We also have our waterfalls, which no island will provide you, as you can also enjoy a river rafting in our island. You never hears about a river rafting kind of stuff on an island.
Talking about adventure, if you could mention your target audience or target tourist that you’d like to attract to the Reunion Island from India?
People looking for a new destination can opt for the Reunion. And also the honeymooners. These are travellers that we are looking for as we provide the beaches and the mountains. So that is something very different that you stay two nights in the mountains and two nights near the sea. We are also actually looking for young travellers looking for adventure.
Is there a strong connect with India in terms of history, community, food or culture?
Yes, there is a strong connect. The Creole food is very similar to Indian cuisine, but with some local variation. For instance, in India, samosa is made of potato, but here you have a samosa with all kinds of meat, like if you are asking for chicken, beef, pork, and every kind of meat samosa. This is not surprising, as nearly 22 pc of the population of the Reunion is of Indianorigin. So, we have a lot of temples and Indian rituals. They also celebrate Diwali and Dussehra. We also have a lot of peoplefrom South India visiting their familiesand relatives in the Reunion island.
In terms of cinema, what are the prospects of shootings and how do you want to develop it as a destination?
Actually our idea to develop shooting of Bollywood movies because people are actually not aware of this destination, that’s why they have not reached till yet. So this is our idea to just take people for the Bollywood movie or one song shooting, it’s enough for us, because you know Reunion has so much scenic beauty, areas where everywhere you stand and have a selfie, we always call them a selfie point. Whenever you go to Reunion island, every point is selfie point there.
What are the challenges in promoting your destination which is totally unknown and at the same time has so many similarities with India?
The only problem selling the destination is the lack of awareness, I would say, because still we have not done anything like we have done some marketing but not in a huge number. So that’s our major plan, to do a road show and a kind of marketing for a destination, a hardcore marketing, aggressive marketing, you can say, to the Indian travellers, and the promotions. And a major issue right now is our air flights, which is not direct from India, like only we have from Chennai, but not from Delhi, Mumbai and other part of India. We only use Air Mauritius as of now from Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. From Chennai we have a direct flight to Reunion island, which is Air Austral. But that is a major issue because our major traffic is coming from west to Reunion island till now.