In 2013, Mauritius proceeded with the inauguration of a modern state-of-the-art passenger terminal at Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport. The new terminal, which covers a total surface area of 57,000 m2, will enable the country to handle 4 million passengers annually (against 2.7 million presently), whilst helping to project Mauritius on the international scene and boost commercial exchanges and the tourism industry. The main idea is to provide the latest in terms of infrastructure in order to increase the number of foreigners entering Mauritius.
However, the underlying reasoning behind attracting more foreigners is not simply to boost the tourism industry. In 2005, Mauritius introduced the Integrated Resorts Scheme (IRS), allowing non-citizens to purchase property (mostly in the form of luxury villas) in the country. At the time, the government set a target of 1,000 villas to be sold within the next eight years. Although only a quarter of that target has been achieved so far (slightly more than 500 villas sold), the government of Mauritius has implemented various measures aiming to encourage more foreigners to invest in property.
The standout feature is the fact that category 1 global business companies (offshore companies) can now acquire properties under the IRS or the Real Estate Scheme (RES) banner. As such, foreign investors are no longer required to purchase property under their own name, but can do so through an offshore company (which is taxable at a rate of 3%). This will result in more investment carried out through Mauritius' offshore sector whilst also increasing the visibility of Mauritius on a global level. Such a measure will also encourage investors to consider investing more into the property and construction sectors in Mauritius.
Rowin Gurusami, BLC Chambers
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