KATHMANDU, March 31: Mauritius, which has been employing a huge number of Indian and Bangladeshi workers, is now eyeing Nepali workers for its tourism and agriculture sectors.
On a recent visit to Nepal, Mookhessore Choonee, honorary consul of Mauritius to India, informed Nepali business people that the prosperous island off the African continent is mulling to replace Indian and Bangladeshi workers with Nepalis.
India and Bangladesh, which are major source countries for overseas work destinations, are annually sending around 30,000 workers to Mauritius.
Bhola Bikram Thapa, managing director of President Travel which is General Sales Agent for Air Mauritius, said Mauritius is showing interest in employing Nepali workers in sugarcane farming, sugar industries and tourism--the key sector of the Mauritius economy.
“Choonee suggested to us to arrange procedures for Nepalis to go to Mauritius to take advantage of the rising demand for workers in agriculture and tourism where Indian and Bangladeshi workers are being gradually replaced,” said Thapa, who met Choonee during the latter´s visit to Nepal.
Thapa said Choonee also informed about plans to open an honorary consul´s office of Mauritius in Nepal soon amid the growing prospect of strengthening labor relations with Nepal.
Nepal has been sending a nominal number of workers to Mauritius though the Nepal government formally granted permission to manpower agencies to sent workers to that destination since last year.
According to data compiled by the Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE), the number of workers leaving for Mauritius reached only 29 during the eight months to mid-March, 2010. During fiscal year 2008/09, the total number of workers flying to Mauritius was 24 and they are mainly employed at sugarcane farms, sugar industries and hotels.
Foreign employment agents also see good job opportunities for Nepalis in Mauritius, where the work force is around 600,000 out of the total population of some 1,270,000.
“Mauritius will become one of the major destinations not only for blue collor but also white collar jobs in tourism, agriculture and manufacturing sectors, which are the major contributors of the economy there,” said Kumud Khanal, a manpower agent.
The tourism sector contributes around 8.7 percent to the Mauritius economy, which has a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of around $9.15 billion dollars and the seventh highest per capita income--over $12,500--in the Africa region. Agriculture, which includes sugarcane, tea, tobacco, vegetables, fruits, flowers and cattle farming, contributes 4.5 percent, manufacturing 19.4 percent and financial services 10.9 percent to the total GDP.
Purna Chandra Bhattarai, Joint-Secretary at the Ministry of Labor and Transport Management, said the government has recognized Mauritius as one of the lucrative and safe destinations for Nepali workers.
“We see huge prospects, if we simplify visa processes which have been difficult due to the absence of diplomatic relations. It is high time for us to diversify our foreign employment sector, which is over-concentrated on the Gulf and Malaysia, by exploring new destinations like Mauritius,” Bhattarai said. According to him, 500 Nepalis are estimated to be working in Mauritius.