National Geographic Traveler
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November/December 2007
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Island Destinations Rated: Indian Ocean Region

Introduction       Africa     Caribbean Region     East & Southeast Asia    

Indian Ocean Region     Mediterranean     North & West Europe    

North America      Pacific/Australia/NZ     South America    

Panelists exchanged comments, which were kept anonymous to maintain survey neutrality during the rating process. These lightly edited excerpts offer a glimpse of panelists' varied points of view and the reasoning behind each score. They are not the views of the National Geographic Society.

Maldives (except Malé)
Score: 61

"Maldives are beautiful and unique from an ecological perspective. Underwater environment is of greatest appeal. There is little social or cultural mixing because the resorts are on their own islands (one resort per island). Some of the tourism plant is tasteful, but some is a monstrosity. Much tourism development does not promote ecological protection."
"Social impacts of tourism avoided by separation of tourists from locals on separate islands. Limited interaction between Muslim Maldivians and tourists."
"Tourists are not made aware of the locale—the Maldives are mainly viewed as a paradise location rather than a place where people actually live and work."
"While the islands have rebounded from damage from the 2004 tsunami, the Maldives are also suffering from rising sea levels, caused by climate change. Already 12 islands have been mostly abandoned and their residents moved to Malé, (around which multi-million dollar protective barriers, called 'tetrapods,' have been erected)."
Score: 55

"An island people with a flair for hospitality and kindness toward visitors. Mauritius is surely the only country in the world where Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Chinese, and Creoles coexist in peace and celebrate several religious festivals together."
 "Culturally Mauritius is fascinating in terms of its agriculture, small hamlets, and cuisine. Its marine biodiversity is also interesting and diving is good, although many reefs are dying due to eutrophication from agriculture and hotels."
 "Mauritius is in danger of continued environmental degradation unless the government acts to stop inappropriate tourist developments. More could be done to develop tourist educational facilities to inform visitors of the island's heritage."

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Réunion (France)
Score: 69

"Volcanic landscapes (both active and extinct) steal the show. The creation of a national park that covers a large share of the interior is a strong step towards safeguarding this treasure."
 "Splendid environment including active volcano. A divided society with some tension between French and African/Creole peoples. French built heritage cherished, especially in the city."
 "Very nice inland volcanic landscape, but the small reefs and lagoons are in bad condition. There is a lot to do and learn for those who want more than a beach. For beach and sea experiences, seek another destination."
"Alien species invasion and major infrastructure projects are threats. Generally serious attention given to environmental protection and to historic/archaeological structures. Aesthetic appeal is very high. Overall tourism development relatively careful."
Score: 70

"Seychelles has developed a world reputation for its hospitality, the natural beauty of its coastal environment, as well as the great diversity of its fauna and flora, both inland and at sea. Environment and biodiversity conservation is a national priority. Nevertheless, rapid economic development and port activities cause degradation of the marine environment in front of Victoria and in Sainte-Anne National Marine Park. Elsewhere, the quality of the coastal environments and the tourism experience are excellent, but it is a quite expensive destination."
"Stunning ecological quality although highly vulnerable to ocean warming and acidification."
"Outstanding example of carefully planned tourism developments. Environmental considerations feature high on the development agenda. Careful expansion of the tourist sector enhances the environmental quality. What has been developed is appropriate in scale and location."
"One of few islands with high ecological quality. Also noted for its expensiveness. Has policy to keep tourist numbers manageable. Pralin has heritage site on tortoises. Beaches on Mahe and Pralin are some of the best in the world. Unfortunately, many locals do not benefit from the industry except serving in the lower ranks."

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