New tax benefits for the development of marina projects as part of strategic plan to increase leisure vessels

In a number of changes presented in the 2019-20 budget a tax benefit has been provided for the development of marina projects.  

Within its latest annual budget the Mauritian government has announced incentives for the development of marina, including new regulations for marinas and a yacht code; an eight-year income tax holiday for a newly set-up company developing a marina; and a VAT exemption will be provided on the construction of marinas.

As an Indian Ocean island, Mauritius is a popular holiday destination but because of the lack of marina infrastructure it does not attract as many cruising yachts as it might despite offering attractive cruising areas.

However under a strategic development plan commissioned for the Mauritius Ports Authority (MPA), which runs up to 2040, a number of options for both new marina facilities  and upgrades to existing facilities addressed.

The plan was prepared by Royal Haskoning DHV, a Dutch engineering, design and project management consultancy, for the MPA. As far as yachting facilities are concerned, opportunities for both new facilities and upgrades will be driven by demand. Currently the only real facilities for visiting yachts for superyachts are in Port Louis, the capital of the island.

The purpose of the masterplan was to set up a framework within which the port can address commercial opportunities without impeding later developments.

The challenge for the MPA is that it has to provide facilities within the Port Louis harbour area that meet all the demands of the island – be it commercial, such as cargo and cruise ships; fishing, which is an important activity in Mauritius; naval and leisure craft. These include shipyard facilities and the Taylor Smith facility which undertakes work on yachts and has specific facilities for visiting craft, along with two sizeable dry docks if needed.

Within Port Louis the masterplan does envisage changes to the city’s waterfront area, which suggests a reduction in the area currently used by fishing vessels and the possibility of a new yacht marina with supporting buildings. This would be subject to demand, but it is proposed this part of the port would become a key public area for local people and tourists to enjoy.

The Caudan area of the Port Louis waterfront currently serves as the main provision for local leisure craft with a basin for mooring yachts, both local and visiting. The masterplan sees this role continuing and includes the construction of a new breakwater to improve the sheltered area for small craft.

The breakwater will also provide secure berths for visiting superyachts. To make this development worthwhile, various private landowners around the Caudan Basin must get together and develop a plan for the area which exploits its history and setting. This plan would be built around a leisure boating development, retaining the area as a cyclone shelter for yachts.

Additionally, the masterplan identified the Grand River North-West area of Port Louis as being a potential site for the development of a marina complex. The Port Louis waterfront marina developments will always struggle to provide all the support facilities for yachts, as they do not have the space available. The two developments complement each other, with Grand River North-West probably being more attractive to sailors who live in the centre of the island.

Another possible development site is at Vieux Grand Port on the island’s southeast coast. This is seen as appropriate for leisure development and it is proposed to develop a service quay for small craft and sports fishing boats. Another option would be to build a protected marina adjacent to the jetty at Bois des Amourettes, which is located next to Vieux Grand Port.