How does Odisha's government promote tourism

214 12 “Stay away from our beach”: Tourism on a multicultural “paradise island” (Mauritius) in the Indian Ocean1 Introduction When studying beaches in Mauritius, one is confronted with a situation that goes far beyond the local and the national; because the global phenomenon of mass tourism inevitably moves into the focus of the investigation. Today tourism is one of the most profitable branches of the economy worldwide, if not the most profitable of all. And tourism, more than most other forms of transnational exchange and transport, is itself globalizing in its effects; because through it not only goods, money, images, information, ideas, diseases and technologies are brought into circulation, but also, and above all, people. It brings people from different regions with their different ways of life, ideas, religions, languages, etc. directly together. Tourists come into contact not only with other tourists (including them often from other countries and regions) and with tourist infrastructures such as hotels and beaches, but also with the people who “visit” them, who work for them and who make them theirs Make a living. In this contact zone between tourists and “locals” dominated by inequalities, a global world emerges, or rather a world in which the local and the global meet and, if necessary, “clash” with one another, or come together in a new synthesis. In the tourist “field”, beaches have been the preferred and most important terrain for vacationing (for some) and working (for others) for over a century. When it comes to the “beach”, we are generally dealing with a highly competitive and valuable commodity. In Mauritius, behind the wonderful sandy beaches of the island, so valued by hundreds of thousands of tourists and locals, there are also developments and interests that harbor some potential for conflict. “Pa tous nou la plaz” is a slogan written in Creole that can be freely translated as “fingers away from our beach”. It serves as the motto of a growing civil rights movement that formed a few years ago in Mauritius and that is fighting against an uncontrolled expansion of the tourism industry that ignores the interests of the population. Also in the case of a planned large-scale project in the southwest of the island, which we initially published as a case study for the diverse and complex negotiation processes in 1 First (together with Cornelia Schnepel) in: Austrian Academy of Sciences, Working Papers on Social Anthropology, Vol. 4, Vienna 2008. Reprinted with the kind permission of the publisher. 215 can serve this area, resistance from civil society contributed to the fact that the project could not be realized in the end despite intensive lobbying and preliminary investments by the operators. In the failed project, a large complex with luxury bungalows was to be built on the Île aux Bénitiers about 500 m off the coast - it is a coral island about two kilometers long and 500 m wide. Since 1927 this island had been leased to a Mauritian family called Nubheebucus, who used the land, which until that year had been fallow and mainly used for grazing goats, to grow citrus fruits, watermelons and above all for a coconut plantation. The lease for the Nubheebucus family and later Soolaman Nubheebucus Company Ltd. was renewed several times in the following decades without any fuss. But with the onset of tourism boom in Mauritius, it became increasingly clear that this island could also represent a commodity with a high capital value. As early as 1988, a French singer named Carlos and two partners were interested in turning the Île aux Bénitiers into an “Île hôtel”. Similar projects in the Maldives and the Seychelles served as models. The project called Le Takamaka was to include a complex of 180 high-quality bungalows, an 18-hole golf course, night clubs, restaurants, sports facilities, a diving center and recording studios for music and film productions. But the interest of the government at the time was little, and the project initially gathered dust in the drawer in Fig. 26: View of the Île aux Bénitiers. However, as early as 1992 the Mauritian government made the tenant an offer to swap the island for a lease of land in the south of the island near St. Felix. This was refused. Efforts to use the island for tourism reached their (previous) high point in February 2002 when the Mauritian company FAIL (Food and Allied Industries Ltd.) 2 announced that they had joined forces with the Soolaman Nubheebucus Company Ltd. an agreement had been reached regarding the construction of a luxury holiday resort on the Île aux Bénitiers. The project plans have already been submitted to the government. A five-star-plus facility was planned, consisting of a total of 97 luxury villas with individual pools. The company's public relations department stressed in several newspaper articles and interviews that environmental issues as well as local interests should be taken into account. It was intended, for example, to promote local small businesses by setting up a “Cultural Village” where Mauritian handicrafts were to be produced and sold. It was also repeatedly emphasized that surrounding towns such as Case Noyal or Le Morne, which have a high unemployment rate, would benefit from the project; because up to 1,900 new jobs should be created and the infrastructure improved through the construction of roads, school buildings and sports fields. A total of 1.8 billion Mauritian rupees, around 60 million euros at the exchange rate at the time, were to be invested, with partners such as the European Investment Bank and the South African International Corporation of Finance already promising a stake of around 30 million euros. But in October 2002 FAIL announced that it had withdrawn from the project. The conditions imposed on the company by the government, also under pressure from the public, deviated too much from the original concept and the newly imposed conditions appeared to be unrealizable. Among other things, it was demanded that the bungalow area should only take up a third of the island's area. In November 2002 the government also announced that there would be no hotel expansion on the island. Instead, it is planned to transform the island into a nature and recreation park for the public. On the other hand, a spokeswoman for the Soolaman Nubheebucus Company Ltd. emphasized that the island project was not off the table for her, as some foreign companies that wanted to take into account the conditions imposed by the government had expressed interest. In 2003, however, the Mauritian government announced that it had signed the lease with Nubheebucus Company Ltd. will dissolve. On this occasion, allegations of corruption were raised within Parliament: There was something fishy about the government's decision against the Île-aux-Bénitiers project, after a high level of support had been shown beforehand. It has been suggested that government officials have been asked for bribes. When the operators of the project did not want to or could not pay for these, the project was given the high requirements. The Ministry of Tourism's denials of these allegations were fierce. A new lease came only after a change of government and thus 2 The consortium mainly operates in the Mauritian food industry, but has also operated three luxury hotels on the island via a subsidiary called Indigo Hotels & Resorts since 1994. 217 related new power constellations as well as a change of direction in the tourism ministry in October 2005.3 But why could the project not be tackled successfully? Why were not only government circles, but also and above all, as we will see, local groups and international civil rights and environmental protection groups against the tourist development of the island? It would appear that environmental issues and the economic and social benefits for the local population had been largely taken into account. All the requirements for a form of tourism that is now called "sustainable" were apparently met. In the following, we will try to investigate these questions, first by sketching the wider context of Mauritian tourism, and then, finally, more directly to the "hands-away-from-our-beach" problem and the case of the Île aux Bénitiers or "Île" hôtel ”. The coast of Mauritius The entire coast of Mauritius measures approximately 323 kilometers. Not all of it is beach in the above sense. The following statistics from 1996 give a good picture of the different uses and characteristics of the Mauritian coast: 4 3 Our information on this case is based on numerous newspaper articles, on interviews with the Public Relations Director of FAIL and with affected citizens and activists Place. The most important newspaper articles can be found in: L’Express from 06.11.2002; 04/11/2003; September 18, 2005; 10/03/2005; Le Weekend of 05/05/2002; 04/20/2003; Le Défi Plus of March 9, 2002; and Le Quotidien from 07/01/2002. 4 See Ministry of Land, Housing and Town Planning 1996. Usage Kilometres (Km) Percentage (%) Public Beaches 26.6 8.2 Hotel Sites 41.9 13 Bungalow Sites 52 16 Building Sites 25 7.7 Various Activities 12.78 3.9 Agricultural 17 5 Grazing 28.7 8.9 Under Vegetation 76.24 24.2 Coastal Road 16.1 4.9 Cliffs 10.2 3.2 Cliffs / Grazing 11.5 3.6 St Antoine Sugar Estate 4.5 1.4 TOTAL 322.5 100 218 The kilometers of coast that occupy us here mainly because they can be characterized as "beaches" fall under the first three categories: “Public beaches”, “hotel sites” and “bungalow sites”. Of the total kilometers of coastline, 120.5 kilometers, or 37.2%, consists of this type of coast. In greater detail: In 1996, 13% of the coastal area was in front of hotels, 16% in front of private houses and 8.2% were “public beaches”. Of the beaches on Mauritius that can be used for swimming and recreation, more than four times as many kilometers were available to hotel guests and private users as were available to the Mauritian public. The length of the Mauritian beaches is not constant. It has grown steadily, especially in the last two decades. Two types of expansion can be noted. On the one hand, new beaches were created and are still being created by converting rough, but in principle usable, sections of the coast into gentler, socio-culturally useful sections, which are then also suitable for picnicking and sometimes swimming. When the sea is heavy or the currents are dangerous, there are warnings or even signs prohibiting bathing. A second way of increasing the beach kilometers on the island is more drastic and labor and cost intensive, but it results in a higher quality beach. For example, the new beaches in the south of the island were created by laying the coastal road that previously ran directly along the coast in a semicircle of about one kilometer around the coastline. The land in this arch was then cleared of bushes, trees, sugar cane, houses and even an old sugar factory in order to then level it and build new hotel facilities. On the beach itself, the jagged edge to the water has been leveled; the local sand mixed with shells, stones and coral remnants was replaced by white, filtered sand brought in from elsewhere. As a kind of crowning act, they planted numerous palm trees directly on the beach, slightly inclined towards the sea, which replace the allegedly less appealing Filao trees that previously existed there. In such larger beach development projects, changes are often also made to the seabed, for example when stones, corals, algae, sea urchins, pieces of Chinese porcelain and sea cucumbers are removed from the future bathing area with a large underwater vacuum cleaner. As should have become obvious, the first form of widening the beach leads to “public beaches”, the second to “hotel beaches”. In the past decade, the relationship between these two types of beaches given above for 1996 has continued to develop to the detriment of Mauritian beach users. Wherever these two types of expansion are no longer possible, be it because the natural conditions make this impossible or too costly, or because it is no longer politically feasible or only with high requirements, there are other ways of adding kilometers of beach create. For example, you can expand your own beach at the expense of someone else's beach. In practice, this usually means that hotel beaches have been expanded at the expense of public beaches. A variant of this is to build hotels and apartments in the "second row" of good public beaches. These cheaper accommodations then send their guests across the street to the “public beaches” in front of them, where they share the sand, sun and sea with the locals. These public beaches then change their character in some respects: a) their clientele is now mixed; b) they are mostly overcrowded, especially on weekends; c) Certain services that are otherwise only available on hotel beaches (e.g. parasols, boat trips, paddle boats, etc.) are now also offered there for a fee or fee. In addition to expanding beaches, there is also another way of making more of the island's existing beaches. This consists less in the extensification than in the intensification of the crop area. On the one hand, you can either increase the number of users, for example by expanding the number of rooms / beds in the hotels behind the beach, or at least increasing the occupancy rate. Additional parasols and sun loungers must then be provided on the beach itself, or the nearby swimming pool must be enlarged. This type of intensification comes up against limits due to the limited space available, but also to the point at which users are no longer willing to accept further restrictions on the beach available to them. In general, one can say: the less space a hotel guest has available, the lower the category of the hotel and thus the lower the price that he is willing to pay. For example, some hotels will be reluctant to use this type of intensification, as it will also put guests and income at risk. Those hotels that do not want to make such compromises on their quality and reputation can, however, also increase the yield per beach meter by simply increasing the quality of their rooms, restaurants and other facilities as well as the service, for example from a three-star category move up to a four- or even five-star quality class, with the corresponding price increases. Many hotels in Mauritius have followed this path in the recent past, such as the two luxury hotels called “Le Paradis” and “Le Touessrok”, which began as simple collections of bungalows and are now among the most beautiful (and most expensive) hotels in Mauritius. This tendency to raise the standard and the prices of the hotels also corresponds to the declared (but recently softened) policy of the island state to focus less on mass tourism than on luxury tourism in the tough global competition among “paradise islands”. Statistical studies confirm that hotels are hungry for more and more beaches. In 1968, the year of independence, 16,000 tourists came to Mauritius. Two years later, the tourism sector, which until then had been served exclusively by the local company New Mauritius Hotels, was also opened to foreign investors. As a consequence of this opening and the boom in the tourism industry that started worldwide in the 1970s and 1980s and continues to this day, the number of visitors to Mauritius rose constantly and drastically. In 1974 it was 72,000, four and a half times as much as only six years earlier. There were 150,000 visitors in 1985, 200,000 in 1987, 536,000 in 1997, 680,000 in 2002, 702,000 in 2003, 719,000 in 2004, and 788,000 tourists were counted for 2006. From 2010 on, the numbers are regularly above the million mark, and the target is 2 to 3 million in the future.As for the number of hotels and hotel beds, there were a total of 55 hotels in Mauritius in 1985, eleven years later there were already 90 hotels, until in 2004 a total of 103 hotels with 10,640 rooms and 21,335 beds were counted. There was not only an increase in the number of hotels, but, as these became increasingly larger, larger and larger accommodation capacities. Between 1985 and 2004, to take these two reference points, there was not only a 220 doubling in the number of hotels and an approximate five-fold increase in the number of visitors, but also a sharp increase in tourist spending. According to the Bank of Mauritius, tourists spent a total of 845 million Mauritian rupees in 1985; It was 11.5 billion in 1998 and 23.5 billion in 2004. This means that in 1985 every tourist spent an average of 5,650 rupees; In 1998 this was already 28,530 rupees and in 2004 tourists on Mauritius spent an average of 32,638 rupees. In other words, from 1985 to 2004, not only did the number of tourists multiply by five, but the expenditure that each tourist made increased six-fold during that period.5 Public and hotel beaches From a legalistic point of view, the distinction between hotel beaches and public beaches is not entirely accurate. There are no private beaches on Mauritius in the strict sense of the word, because according to the law, all Mauritian coasts are accessible to everyone up to their "high watermark" (to be kept). So there is always a more or less narrow strip of sand or full of pebbles that everyone can use, no matter what is behind it, be it to stroll along it, to go into the water from it or even to have a picnic. As far as the rights of use behind this coastal strip are concerned, by law all coastal land up to 81.21 meters behind the "high-water mark", known as Pas Geometrique, belongs to the state. However, they can rent it out to hotels or other users for up to 30 years. The costs of such transfer of usage rights have been low up to now, and they could usually be extended easily and cheaply. The strip in front of it is public, but the use behind the “high water mark” determines the use of the beach in front of it so much that many Mauritians do not even take the path along a hotel beach. Hotel beaches are therefore de jure open to the public, but rarely de facto. At this point it is necessary to make a further specification. Up to this point we have been writing about “public beaches” in a colloquial sense, namely as beaches that are accessible to everyone, as public as opposed to private. However, there is also a more official meaning of the term under the Beach Authority Act of 2002: “a public beach means a space along the coast which, by notice published in the Gazette, has been declared to be a public beach by the Minister responsible for the subject of housing and lands ”(Part 1, Section 2a). In this sense, “public beach” is a precisely defined area of ​​land that is also declared in the official gazette and is subject to the care and authority of a special department of the government. It is the responsibility of the state Beach Authority to take care of the cleanliness of these precisely defined stretches of the beach, to ensure safety and order as well as sanitary facilities, so that all users can get “maximum enjoyment” 5 The statistical data discussed here were taken from publications taken from the Ministry of Tourism and Leisure (2000, 2001, 2004 and 2005). Critical discussions on the development of tourism in Mauritius can be found in Carlsen / Jaufeerally 2003; Jaufeerally 2000 and Jahangeer-Chojoo 1998. The inflation rates of the respective countries have not been taken into account here. 221 can. All beaches are open to the public in the broadest sense, but not all are “public beaches” in this legal sense. There are some fundamental differences between “public beaches” and “hotel beaches”. Even if an island visitor does not go into the hinterland of a beach - let's imagine that he comes across the sea to the beach and only sees the immediate coastline in front of him - he will still recognize a number of differences. In general, “public beaches” are rougher and more rugged. There are significantly more pebbles on these beaches, and even in places with white sand, it is not as powdery and abundant as on hotel beaches, but mixed with darker sand, stones and broken, sharp-edged pieces of coral. The direct access to the water is always a bit steeper, due to broken sand edges, especially where the sea has washed away earth and exposed tree roots due to the tide changes and storms. Furthermore, the picnic and parking areas of the "public beaches" are usually overgrown with filaos and other types of pine. Although public beaches and the surrounding area are generally well maintained by the Beach Authority, they tend to be more polluted than hotel beaches. This is especially evident at the end of a long sunny weekend or on bank holidays. Another characteristic of the “public beaches” are stray dogs that are always looking for food or playmates. In comparison, the hotel beaches on Mauritius completely correspond to the global image of the beaches of tropical "island paradises". The sand is white and fine, the sea water is brilliantly clear, and in the shallow water you can see a carefully cleaned seabed. The sea is gentle and in a way “cultivated” because the currents and waves as well as sharks and other large, possibly terrifying fish species are kept away by the coral reef, which lies a few hundred meters off the coast. At the “high water mark”, the beach gradually changes into a first strip of mainland, which usually consists of a carefully laid out grassy area that is not accessible to the public. At this boundary line there are often signs saying “private property” or similar information. Sun loungers are set up directly behind this boundary line, which in hotels of higher categories are arranged in groups of two or three at a discreet distance from one another under parasols. The trees that provide additional shade on hotel beaches are palm trees that have been planted at equal distances from one another. Usually there are boathouses, bars or restaurants at both ends of these hotel beaches. Approximately in the middle of the complex are the main restaurant and a pool, which, viewed from the hotel, seems to extend seamlessly into the green-blue-turquoise-colored sea. There are no dogs to be seen on these beaches, and if anyone should get lost here, they will be chased away by the hotel security staff. The distinguishing features of “public beaches” and hotel beaches that I have highlighted so far are essentially environmental or infrastructural in nature. Exactly those beaches that could be regarded as the remains of a supposedly untouched paradise, i.e. sandy beaches with bending palm trees and clear water, Fig. 28: Hotel beach 223, are actually the most artificial. In this context, it should be remembered that the island was settled relatively late, from the 18th century onwards. In order for it to be habitable for people and for the use of its resources to be possible, it was fundamentally and continuously changed and cultivated. This happened to such an extent that not only the population but also most of the plants and animals found on the island today (sugar cane and deer as main examples) were "imported" after endemic animal and plant species (such as the famous dronte dodo or ebony) had been exterminated. In other words: both the Filaos on the “public beaches” and the palm trees on the hotel beaches are imports, the former from Australia, the latter from Madagascar and East Africa. The social composition of the beach population The statistical surveys carried out every two years by the Ministry of Tourism provide a good insight into the social composition of the users of hotel beaches. Looking at the statistics for 2004 shows that the countries of origin of the majority of tourists are in Europe. A total of 66.4% or 477,041 (out of 719,000) came from Europe, while 24.4% or 175,649 tourists came from African countries, 6.3% or 45,325 from Asia, 12,068 from Oceania and 8,409 from America. Within Europe, tourists from France form the largest group; it was 210,411 (or 44.1% of all Europeans or 29.3% of the total number of tourists arriving). The second largest tourist group comes from Great Britain with 92,652 visitors, followed by Germany with 53,277 and Italy with 41,277. Switzerland, Austria and Spain were represented with visitor numbers between 8,000 and 16,000. The African category in this statistic is a bit misleading as most of the African tourists came from the neighboring islands or from South Africa. In 2004, 96,510 visitors came from the neighboring island of Réunion alone, 6 from South Africa came 52,609 and from the Republic of Madagascar 8,256. Within the Asian contingent, Indians make up the majority with 24,716 visitors, followed by Chinese with 6,127. The majority of the term “Oceania” refers to the residents of Australia (11,373), and the “America” category is predominantly comprised of citizens of the USA (4,305) and Canada (2,341) .7 Before these numbers refer to the people who live in the two different categories of beaches can be used, a few corrections are necessary. Officially used by the government, the “tourist” label does not only refer to vacationers. It is estimated that only 91% of all “tourists” arriving in Mauritius in 2004 were tourists in the narrower sense of the word. The remainder includes conference attendees as well as visitors who came to Mauritius for business, social / family reasons, or for sporting events. These visitors rarely stay in hotel complexes on the beach, 6 With regard to the official nationality of the citizens of Réunion, it should be noted that they should be correctly classified under the heading of French tourists, since Réunion is a department d’Outre Mer of France. 7 See Ministry of Tourism and Leisure 2005. 224 but in business hotels as well as with friends, family members or business partners. For a number of different social, historical and economic reasons, it can be assumed that most “tourists” from Réunion and Madagascar, as well as those from India and China, but also a considerable number of visitors from France and South Africa belong to this category of visitors. Accordingly, a relatively smaller number of these “tourists” can be found on the hotel beaches. In addition, many of the “real tourists” do not live in hotel complexes with a beach, but in pensions, apartments or bungalows in the informal tourism sector, which I have already referred to as the “second row”. All in all, it is estimated that around 25% of visitors to Mauritius do not live in hotel complexes on the beach. Overall, the hotel beaches of Mauritius are populated mainly by Europeans, of whom (continental) French (even after the above restrictions) form the majority, followed by British, Germans, Italians and Swiss. This group is largely completed by (white) South Africans and increasingly by Australians, who increasingly travel to Mauritius after the bomb attacks on Bali in 2002 and 2005 and after the tsunami disaster on the coasts of Southeast Asia in 2004. In addition, more and more tourists from India, China and Russia are joining as a result of the increasing prosperity and new consumer behavior in these countries. With regard to the users of the “public beaches”, it is helpful to first examine the composition of the Mauritian population in order to be able to determine an approximate value for the social composition of the visitors to public beaches. In the government's last official census from 1982, the Mauritian population is divided into 52% Hindus, 16% Muslims and 3% Sino-Mauritians; 29% are assigned to the “general population” category. The first two categories were evidently based on religious criteria, 8 the third, however, reflects the origin from a country (China). The fourth and last category is an amorphous one, which includes Creoles (a term used in Mauritius to describe the descendants of African slaves), French and "Coloreds" (mixed descendants of French and Creoles). The matter becomes even more complicated if one divides the population “Indians” not only according to religion, but also according to their exact origin on the Indian subcontinent and according to the languages ​​spoken by their ancestors. The majority of the ancestors of today's Indo-Mauritians (Muslim as well as Hindu) came from the north of the Indian subcontinent in the 19th century, and they spoke Bhojpuri or Hindi. However, a third of the Indian migrants came from the south of the subcontinent, whereby a further differentiation has to be made between Telugu and Tamil speakers. Furthermore, there are significant groups among today's Indo-Mauritians who emphasize that their ancestors were Marathi and Gujarati speakers from western India. And finally, to use the religious criterion again, almost a third of all Mauritians are Christians, mainly of the Roman Catholic variety, and they belong to those population groups that have been summarized under the category of "general population". But many Sino-Mauritians and Tamils ​​also belong to the Roman Catholic denomination. A number of other criteria, in particular caste and class criteria, could also be used. Consider that the Muslims also come from India. 225 if used, which would mean that further subgroups and / or overlapping membership groups emerge (and disappear) in the daily interaction. 9 All these "identities" or, better, criteria on which the "making and unmaking of differences" are based lie, 10 play an important role not only with regard to the census, but also for the actors themselves in their socio-cultural, political, economic and religious life. At this point the question arises to what extent this information can be transferred to the beach. Do more Hindus visit the beaches of Mauritius and do so more often and for longer than, for example, Muslims? Do the Sino-Mauritians like the beaches more than the Creoles? How many of one group or the other are on which beach and at what time? How many men or women are there on the beach? How many are young or old, "born twice" or as low as a caste? How many are rich or poor, educated or without a school leaving certificate, from the country or from the city? As far as I know, no quantitative studies have been carried out on these questions so far, but based on observations and interviews it can be determined with a certain degree of certainty that no noticeable imbalances or absences can be identified. In other words: all ethnic and / or religious groups, all generations, both genders, both poor and rich, city dwellers and villagers, are represented in large numbers on the beaches. The above-mentioned relations of the Mauritian population can also be found about the same on the beach. This result could not necessarily be expected, and it is not as natural as it might seem at first glance. Rather, it should actually astonish you because some Mauritian groups have the reputation and the self-image to live full of work ethic and discipline (namely the Hindus), while others, especially the Creoles, are supposedly oriented towards pleasure in their attitude to life. One could also have assumed that Muslim communities, particularly Muslim women, would not be on the beach, or at least only in small numbers, because of the strict moral codes and restrictions that Islam imposes on the female body. But on the beaches of Mauritius you can find Creoles as well as "Coloreds", Indo-Mauritians and Sino-Mauritians; Or, to mix the criteria differently, the beach is visited by Hindus as well as Christians and Muslims, men and women, old and young, rich and poor, relatives from lower to higher caste, etc. Only the Franco-Mauritians are rare beach visitors, even if they do one takes into account that they make up only 2% of the total population.But they also represent the segment of the population with the highest income and prosperity, so that they are more likely to be found on the beaches in front of the private bungalows than on the "public beaches". However, this does not mean that “white-skinned people” are completely absent from “public beaches”. It must be remembered that around a quarter of all tourists are not staying in hotels with beach access. It is likely that many of them will appear on the “public beaches” at some point. On some of the “public beaches” they even represent the dominant group, namely where there are many hotels in the “second row” and private apartments and bungalows can be rented in the vicinity. 9 For questions about the census, see Christopher 1992; Dinan 2003 and Lutz 1994 referenced. 10 For “making and unmaking of differences” see Rottenburg / Schnepel / Shimada 2006. 226 On a closer look at who can really be seen on the beaches and where exactly these people settle on the beach, it turns out that the existing “Public beaches” are not divided according to ethnic or religious or other criteria such as class, caste, gender and age. All groups can be found on all “public beaches”. Remarkably, there are no implicit or explicit distribution rules on the Mauritian “public beaches” such that, for example, Sino-Mauritians only go to one beach, young people to another, Christians to another and so on. Something similar can be seen on hotel beaches. There are mixtures of all nationalities as listed above. But there are only a few mono-national or bi-national hotels. Generally, the guests of a certain hotel beach consist of people of different national origins, and especially in larger hotel complexes they are estimated to have the national proportions that were listed above according to the statistics. Final remarks: "Hands off our beach" The beach can be described as a "space in between". It connects land and water and, viewed from a structuralist perspective, it even mediates between nature and culture.11 But this geophysical mediating property of the beach means that it is also "liminal" in a social sense, that is liminal in Turner's sense? 12 To put it another way: Are Mauritian beaches also areas that are dominated by anti-structure and communitas? In order to be able to answer this question, the multi-ethnic and poly-religious character of the Mauritian society must first be recalled as well as the fact that in "real" life the dividing lines and conflicts of interest between the different subgroups of the nation are sometimes very strong . Against this background it is noteworthy, as stated above, that a) all Mauritian subgroups go to the beach; b) everyone goes to all beaches; and c) only mild forms of ethnic “clustering” can be observed on the respective beaches themselves. And as soon as you find yourself on the beach, it represents (just as the night does) 13 a space that allows you to be different or to do things differently than is the case in everyday working life. On the sandy beach you can escape the structures and stresses of life on the land, but this does not mean that a pure form of communitas can be found on Mauritian beaches. Beaches in Mauritius are places where utopias of human coexistence and even heterotopias in the sense of Foucault (2005) find a certain breeding ground. However, they only partially realize the ideal of “unity in diversity” or other (perhaps more private) utopias so often propagated by the Mauritian government - and then only for the limited time of a sunny afternoon.14 11 See Urbain 1994. 12 See Turner 1969. 13 With regard to the “anthropology of the night” see Schnepel / Ben Ari 2005 and Schnepel 2006. 14 The ability of beaches to compensate for social and class differences to a certain extent is described by Walton 1983 with regard to British seaside resorts in the 19th and early 20th centuries have been studied. 227 Now we have seen that hotel beaches on Mauritius are taking up more and more space, and not infrequently at the expense of “public beaches”. Mauritian citizens, seeing their beaches dwindle in number and size, are increasingly alarmed and frustrated by this. Some make their complaints heard in letters to the editor, others start “citizens' initiatives”, according to the protest movement Pa tous nu la plaz, and still others resort to illegal means such as arson.15 The increased awareness among the Mauritian public that beaches are limiting , but are a highly sought-after and contested “commodity”, has increasingly had an impact on politicians who are looking for votes. Stricter environmental protection laws have been introduced in recent years. The extraction of sand from lagoons to fill hotel beaches and the radical reconstruction of these beaches, for example by cutting down existing trees or "underwater vacuuming" of the bathing area, has been subject to ever greater bans. The construction of new hotels is also increasingly associated with conditions and compensation payments from which the neighboring population should benefit. Sometimes permits for the construction of new hotels are no longer granted. For example, a group's project to develop a “Blue Bay Maritime Park” near Mahébourg failed. Other investors are faced with great difficulties when planning to build a tourist complex at the foot of the Morne Brabant mountain. In the latter case, resistance has been expressed primarily by local fishermen, who are seeing the natural resources on which they rely on dwindling. And not all fishermen consider it appealing to be employed as "beach boys", security guards or gardeners in the new hotels. There is also a group of Creoles and left-liberal activists from all Mauritian population groups who, after years of struggle, including against competition from within Mauritania, succeeded in getting Morne Brabant recognized as a World Heritage Site by the UN in July 2008. This success also represents a loss for other major tourist projects on this peninsula.16 We can now come back to the project on the Île aux Bénitiers mentioned at the beginning. While the supporters of the island project, as mentioned above, emphasized the ecological sensitivity and the economic advantages for the region, the opponents feared that the implementation of such a project would damage the ecological balance on the one hand and deprive local fishermen of their livelihoods on the other. Soon after the FAIL plans were announced in spring 2002, a civil rights movement called the L’Union des Forces Vives de l’Ouest was formed. The members of this group mostly came from La Gaulette, a thriving small town on the southwest coast of Mauritius just off the Île aux Bénitiers. In La Gaulette, Indo-Mauritians, who cultivate their Marathi origins, live in roughly equal proportions, and Creoles of African origin to the left and right of the main road.17 There are also Sino-Mauritians doing business in La 15 several times in a row during the construction of the “Croix du Sud ”hotels near Mahébourg. 16 The steep mountain range is mythically linked to the suffering of runaway slaves, who are said to have thrown themselves off the cliff because they preferred their deaths to being captured by the police. The bitter irony of it all is that these police officers were supposed to have only turned up in 1835 to inform the refugees living on the mountain that the era of slavery was over. That's roughly the story. 17 Originally, Mauritian towns were mostly elongated “one-street towns” with only a few short side streets branching off from the main road. 228 Gaulette, and increasingly Franco-Mauritians also live here in upper-class houses that were built up the hills in newly developed residential areas. The longer resident population of La Gaulette of the first two categories previously earned their living by working on sugar cane plantations, in fishing or in retail; in the meantime, however, probably three quarters, if not an even larger proportion of the population, work in the luxury hotels on the Le Morne peninsula, which are about ten kilometers away. The spokeswoman for the Bénitiers activist group was not a representative of these numerically dominant sections of the population, but a Mauritian woman of Dutch origin named Tania Haberland-van-Schalkwyck. Her concern was primarily of an ecological nature, such as the movement's motto, “Nu later, nu lamer, nu ler; sa mem nu lavie ”or“ Our earth, our sea, our air; this is our life ”well expresses. In addition to many rallies and press articles, she has also set up a platform on the Internet. In the report of March 200218 to be found there, it is addressed to the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, the President of the Republic, the Environment Minister, the Advisor to the Environment Ministry, the Minister of Tourism, the Minister of Fisheries, the Minister of Agriculture, the Minister of Land and Housing, the Minister of Health, the Minister of Culture, the Minister of Law and Human Rights, the Minister of Science and Education, representatives of the Mauritian print media, to all residents of the island of Mauritius and to Mauritian and international non-governmental organizations, above all from the field of environmental protection, and asks them for assistance. In the report, Haberland initially complained more generally about the lack of well-founded scientific research into the almost fifty small islands that make up Mauritius, the Île aux Bénitiers among them. Thereupon a dozen reasons are given why a touristic development of the Île aux Bénitiers on the scale planned by FAIL would be an irreparable mistake from an ecological point of view. According to her research, which is based on the evaluation of scientific statements, but also on conversations with the local population, there are many threatened species on the island and in the marine fauna around it, including rare species of mollusks, corals, fish and reptiles. All of this would require a full investigation from which a resolute policy for the protection of all the Mauritian islands would be derived. So we have a number of actors around the island of Benitiers, each with their own interests and rationalities. First and foremost there is the island itself, i.e. the flora and fauna on the island and in the surrounding sea, with their very own “interests” in survival. Then there is the family, later the Nubheebucus company, which, after originally having an agricultural interest that only yields a modest profit, is now hoping to get into the tourism industry on a large scale. Large corporations such as FAIL as well as investors from South Africa and Europe are connected with Nubheebucus; behind it are also large, globally operating tourism groups. The Mauritian government is also at play at this top level, whereby it should be emphasized that different, successive governments have 18 Report on l’Île aux Bénitiers: Arguments (Factual & Hypothetical) for protecting the Islet from development. March 2002. Compiled by Tania Haberland van Schalkwyk. They did not represent a uniform position, especially since sub-groups within given governments, for example the Ministry of Tourism on the one hand and the Ministry of Environmental Protection on the other, represent different interests. Then we have the local people, on the coast in the southwest of Mauritius, who would be most directly affected by the project. There are poorer villages such as Case Noyal or Le Morne, for which the construction of the facility on the Île aux Bénitiers would have brought some jobs and infrastructural improvements.19 Then there is the town of La Gaulette, which is already benefiting strongly from the tourism boom in Mauritius Has. There is also the local civil rights movement L’Union des Forces Vives de l’Ouest with its activists, who, as in the case of the spokeswoman for this group, often come from an economically well-off, left-liberal and environmentally conscious background. This group succeeded not only in influencing Mauritian politics, but also in convincing environmentalists and non-governmental organizations to support their cause on an international level. Our discussion should have made it clear that the negotiations on Île aux Bénitiers cannot be grasped with conventional templates. It is not a question of a conflict between globally operating large tourist companies that are only interested in profit at the expense of nature and the local population, on the one hand, and a local population that defends itself against such destruction and exploitation, on the other. Too many actors do not fit into this scheme. On the one hand, one of the main operators of the project is a Mauritian family who does not belong to big business, while on the other hand, an environmental activist of Dutch origin has the word. The complicated constellation becomes clearest if we take a closer look at the interests of the people of La Gaulette. Many of the residents of the town, where we intermittently spent almost half a year, evaded when we asked them about their attitude towards the Bénitiers project. Our landlord, who had successfully established himself at his level by renting out apartments, cars and bicycles to “second row” tourists, said that he would have benefited from the project. He would then have set up a small boat dock in his garden for day visitors and also sold snacks and drinks there. Most of the other Indo-Mauritian and Creole residents of the place we interviewed said, however, that they definitely did not want a hotel complex on the Île aux Bénitiers. Significantly, the reasons here were not ecological, but economic in nature. 19 In this context, it should be mentioned that, following its failed efforts with regard to the Île aux Bénitiers, FAIL was soon able to successfully implement a large hotel project in Bel Ombre in the south of the island. The local population in this also relatively underdeveloped region was convinced of the project by the promised jobs, infrastructural measures and financial injections and thus did not oppose it. However, a time after the completion and commissioning of the hotel complex arose on site: The number and quality of the jobs ultimately given to the local population did not have the hoped-for level. Only a few jobs would have been obtained, then in the low-wage sector. FAIL told us about these allegations that in fact the residents were not well trained enough for many upscale activities in the five-star area of ​​their hotel (“Telfair”). This is where one has to start by attending hotel management schools and long-term training measures. 230 This needs explanation. Day trips to the small islands off the coast are now part of the repertoire of all major Mauritian tour operators with their representatives in the hotels. Popular excursion islands are, for example, the Île aux Cerfs in the southeast and the Îlot Gabriel in the north of Mauritius. In the meantime, smaller and only locally operating tour operators have established themselves outside the hotels in towns such as Flic-en-Flac, Grande Gaube or Trou d’Eau Douce, which are frequented by individual tourists. More and more fishermen are also recognizing an additional business for themselves in this gray market, and they offer their boats and services for day trips to islands, snorkeling and diving tours or dolphin sightseeing either directly or through these local operators. The Île aux Bénitiers is also a popular day trip destination for the Mauritian population as well as for tourists from the nearby five-star hotels as well as from the “second row”. In addition to the luxury hotels on the Le Morne Peninsula, numerous small businesses and fishermen from La Gaulette also offer boat trips to the island in this growth sector of day trips. Arrived on the island, usually after a round trip with one or the other jump in the turquoise lagoon, fish and lobster are grilled at social gatherings; you can go swimming or snorkeling again or just lie lazily in the sun.Members of the crew take care of the barbecue and the drinks, play the guitar and drum and sometimes dance a séga to it.20 Such day trips including a barbecue cost around 1,500 Mauritian rupees (in 2005), i.e. the equivalent of around 50 euros. The longing for Robinson Crusoe, which probably drove quite a few of the visitors to this excursion, is mostly disturbed by the fact that on the sea side of the island there are barbecue areas next to barbecue areas, where numerous other groups hang out. The rather neglected beach, the interior of the island overgrown with bushes and weeds, the plastic garbage lying around and ultimately the many stray dogs disturb the sought-after idyll. At least some of the fishermen and residents of La Gaulette were now against the project, not because they were afraid for the fish stocks or for flora and fauna, but because they feared major competition in the field of excursions and because they did not know whether the Île aux Bénitiers too with the bungalow resort can still be accessed by them. Some of the "fishermen", for whose ecological livelihood well-meaning environmental activists from Mauritius and around the world fought, were against the project not as "fishermen", but as boat owners and their own tourism operators. For many residents of La Gaulette, this was more of a dispute between large and small tourism industries over the island's "benefices". It can only be said whether the fear of the "small" organizers of ending up as a loser is justified, whether the environmental damage caused by the construction of the facility is greater than that caused by the increasing and uncontrolled plastic barbecue waste speculate. We cannot and do not want to take sides here, even if a critical western observer would find it easier to take sides with the latter with a template of destructive mass tourism versus environmental protection and local population. But such a template with such an easily identifiable villain does justice to tourism in Mauritius only to a limited extent and to a limited extent. For the Séga dance as a symbol of Mauritian identity constructions, see Chapter 5. 231. Likewise, to a certain extent on the other side of the coin, the widespread ideology of the constant development of “third world countries” through tourism must be treated with great caution. In order for such a development to be able to reach the population itself, a critical and active public that constantly controls the economy and politics is required, as luckily can be found in Mauritius. Bibliography Carlsen, Jack / Jaufeerally, Karim 2003: An Analysis of Tourism Trends in Mauritius. In: Robin N. Ghosh, Muhammed Abu B. 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