The Mauritian tourism minister has challenged the trade to make the UK the destination’s number one source market.

Currently the UK is the second biggest market behind France, however minister Anil Kumarsingh Gayan believes the UK could take the top slot.

As the island celebrates 50 years of independence in 2018, the tourist board will be hosting a range of events for UK agents and media. Additional training and fam trips will also be held throughout the next year.

When speaking to Travel Weekly, the Mauritian minister said his ambitions stemmed from the historic links between the UK and Mauritius.

“As an island we offer something for all interests – it’s an extremely diverse place,” he added. “And I believe the UK should be our biggest source market. We are a safe destination and we have some of the best beaches in the world.”

Kevin Ramkaloan, director for the tourist board said the UK passenger numbers had grown exponentially in recent years but had slowed in the first half of this year.

“Last year (2016) alone it grew by 10% but between January and September it grew by just 1%. We are expecting this to lift in this latter half of the year.”

He said the reopening of properties such as One&Only’s Saint Geran, which has undergone a huge refurbishment and reopens in December, would only be positive for the island.

Additional uplift to the island is expected to help grow visitor numbers, with British Airways adding capacity with additional weekly flights.

Travel Weekly coverage of World Travel Market