- Title: MAURITIUS: Mauritius swaps sugar fields for luxury housing estates
- Date: 6th October 2007
- Summary: (AD1) BEAU CHAMP, MAURITIUS (RECENT) (REUTERS) VIEW OF COAST LINE FISHERMAN WADING OUT TO BOAT VARIOUS MORE OF COAST AND VIEW OUT TO SEA
- Embargoed: 21st October 2007 13:00
- Location: Mauritius
- Country: Mauritius
- Topics: Industry
- Reuters ID: LVADUWJ8IA3MSJA7SCEGBR9BMFE7
- Story Text: Bored of life in the city? Looking to live by the sea? Mauritius, an island in the Indian Ocean, is swapping its sugar fields for luxury property and for the first time ever the market is open to foreigners. Rich foreigners, that is.
"The average price for the L'Adamante residences that we sold last year was 850,000 US dollars," said Nicolas Vaudin, general manager of Ciel Properties. "That excludes the government registration duty of 70,000 US dollars and any furniture," he told Reuters.
Anahita -- a 460 million US dollar development on Mauritius' eastern coast - is set to include six kilometres of waterfront, a 72-par championship golf course, Four Seasons hotel, and 325 luxury properties. For now, it is a building site on an old sugar estate.
Mauritius's sugar sector is under the onslaught of trade liberalisation and increased competition from other growers.
Europe has traditionally bought more than 90 percent of the Indian Ocean nation's sugar at guaranteed prices, but Mauritius is set to lose its protection within this market.
Europe plans to slash its guaranteed sugar prices by 36 percent between 2006 and 2009, while from 2009 it will scrap sugar quotas from less developed countries plus almost 80 countries in the African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) region.
The sugar industry provides direct and indirect employment for some 60,000 people in Mauritius. The Anahita project, with it's mud, machinery, and hundreds of swarming workers, is a direct result of the changing economic climate.
"We have a total, we will have just within Anahita itself, excluding the Four Seasons Hotel, over 325 residences of different types. The overall cost is today estimated at about 325 million Euros," added Vaudin.
The buyers are not discouraged. At an invitation-only event last year, the first 70 residences were snapped up within six hours. No superstars have yet bought at Anahita, project officials say, but Mauritius has 11 similar schemes.
Once a sleepy corner of the Indian Ocean with its pristine beaches and ubiquitous fields of sugar, the descendants of Asian, African, and European immigrants are adapting to free trade and the global property market.
Going against the instincts of many Mauritians, a 2004 law allowed foreigners to buy freehold with the aim of attracting foreign cash.
According to economic analysts, developments like Anahita explain the nearly five-fold increase in tourism's foreign direct investment to 2.6 billion Mauritius rupees (85 million US dollars) from 2005 to 2006.
The locals seem happy too.
"There are more jobs," explained Collet Babet, a social worker in the nearby town of Beau Champ. "Two thousand people are working there right now, so there's less unemployment," she said.
Village Councillor, Suresh Gopalsing, also views the project favourably.
"People here needed to get out and find jobs elsewhere. Now we have the Anahita project at Beau Champ here."
Press handouts say the project will also take care of the environment, developing just eight percent of the 213-hectare site and protecting the 13 rare species of tree.
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