Mauritius is comprised of numerous different cultures and ethnic groups, all contributing to the open and friendly world-renown hospitality of the island. Amongst the many groups that make up the Mauritian people are French, Indian, Chinese and Creole. The significant portion of Sino-Mauritians, who count for roughly three percent of the population, makes this small island in the Indian Ocean an attractive holiday destination for many Chinese tourists.
Gastronomically speaking, Mauritius caters to a variety of different tastes and palates with its homogeneous mix of world cuisines. Of particular interest to Chinese tourists, however, is the predominance in Chinese restaurants and dumpling vendors. Chinese migrants started to arrive on the island near the end of the nineteenth century, hailing predominantly from the south east of China. This influx of people from the Cantonese region, which is well known for the variety and sophistication of its meals, has shaped the modern face of Sino-Mauritian cuisine. Common fare, favoured across ethnic groups on the island, includes fried rice or noodles, chop suey and spring rolls while more exotic delicacies like shark fin or abalone soup are found only in select Chinese restaurants.
The most important Chinese festival celebrated on the island is the Spring Festival, or Chinese New Year which usually occurs in January or February of the Gregorian calendar. On the day of the festival fireworks, especially firecrackers, are lit to chase away evil spirits and special celebrations are held in the China Town area of Port Louis. These celebrations include exotic street decorations and performances of the lion and dragon dancers.
The languages spoken in Mauritius include English, French, Mauritian Creole, Hindi, Tamil, Urdu, Telugu, Marathi, Bhojpuri, Hakka and Mandarin. While English is the official language of the island, most media is in French and the most common language spoken is Mauritian Creole. Although the Chinese languages of Hakka and Mandarin are spoken on the island, the proportion of native speakers is relatively small and, owing to the size and relative insulation of the island, there has been a wide divergence from Meixian Hakka in terms of vocabulary and pronunciation.
For the Chinese tourist, however, there are a few of newspapers printed in Mandarin. These include the Chinese Daily News (中华日报), the China Times (华侨时报), The Mirror (镜报) and Hua Sheng Bao (华声报). This last paper, which started as a daily in Chinese, eventually changed its format to become a monthly paper running to eight pages, including one page each of English and French news.
Tourists from China, therefore, are guaranteed a certain feeling of a home-away-from-home when they visit the beautiful, tropical island of Mauritius. They are able to savour the familiar delights of traditionally prepared food, read papers in Chinese and enjoy the celebrations of important festivals. In addition to this, however, they can also partake in the rich variety of Mauritian culture and cuisine, enjoy the pristine white beaches, sample the otherworldly delights of snorkelling in the crystal-clear waters of the turquoise lagoon and enjoy world-class hospitality.