Why 24/7 concept fails in Mauritius


I should add “for now” in the title. If I consider what the newspapers are reporting, the first 24/7 festival was not that much of a success. People who work at the Central Market were idling due to a lack of customers. The hawkers seem to be quite happy though. Shops were closed by 22h due to that same lack of buyers. The only place which was very active was the Caudan Waterfront.

So, what went wrong? Nothing as such. It was a perfectly engineered festival. They had planned a concert, had the shops of Port Louis participate in the event by remaining open, and even had a few hawkers and food sellers around to help. The only problem was the people who were supposed to be there. The expected crowd was absent, for some very simple reasons. Then, what are those reasons anyway?

Real night life does not exist in Mauritius. You might say that many folks go clubbing at night, but just this is not nightlife. In countries like Singapore, people tend to dine outside. Restaurants are open till very late in the night. After a good dinner, people will tend to wander around, and maybe do some shopping, which is a major “hobby” in Singapore. English folks will enjoy the traditional pubs or maybe a late night cinema session before going hope. Would anybody do this in Mauritius? I guess not, for food is expensive here. A typical dine-out would run around Rs. 500 per person. Many traditional families would prefer to dine at home, instead of out. After that, if we include maybe a movie, add Rs. 175 to this per person. It’s quite a hefty price to pay in those dire times of recession (or post-recession, for the optimists among you).

But money alone is not enough. Transportation is a problem too. From where I live, there were no buses going to Port Louis after the normal operation hours. Therefore, only the people with cars could go to Port Louis. Now, imagine that you have returned from work after a tiring day, and having endured the traffic jams of 16h, will you be ready to take the car again after hours? Uhh.. No thanks! But if you have to remember to not do it under the influence as local laws are very strict, see here a law firm specializing in DWI to learn more.

People living outside Mauritius got underground trains, lightweight railway and a good bus service, none of which are available in Mauritius. You are forced to drive again, but by night this time. This in itself is quite dangerous at times. You just have to see accident figures to know.

Which leads me to the security aspect. Whatever the police force says, people are afraid of getting mugged in Mauritius. This alone would deter a lot of folks from venturing out at night. Now, going down and walking in the dark streets of Port Louis? Yea right!

But what is the root of the problem you say? It’s so obvious: there is nothing in Mauritius that you can’t do by day, and have to do at night. How many shows are there to visit or concerts or shows to attend? Not that many! So what do you do at night then? You would go shopping? This involves money too, and people might not be very ready to spend money nowadays, specially the traditional Mauritian dad! What would you buy after hours that you can’t buy during the day? Would you go to do your vegetables shopping at night? This explains why the market was a desert. What shopping would you do at night? Would you shop everyday? Assume you decide to shop at night one day, what do you do for the remaining 6 days? That is the root of the problem: a huge lack of activity by night.

If people don’t have things to do at night, there is no reason to have 24/7. You can’t just say “ok, we need 24/7 in Mauritius, let’s DO IT!”. It doesn’t work like that. You need a change in the habits of the people, and this is not something easy to achieve. You need to give them something that they will want to do. Oh, something funny before moving on: the event is called 24/7, but everything was silent by midnight! What about the midnight-to-6am time?

What do we do then? Here’s some ideas for starters:

– First, get the people there. We need better transport, late-night buses throughout the island. That is the bare minimum!

– Start slow! Why 24/7? For starters, do a special “Late night day” instead. Say, Wednesday would be special late-night in Mauritius. Shops would be open till late, etc. Let people get used to the concept first. I think the organizers rushed ahead regarding this.

– You should try to bring the people. Having people who have worked during the day come back to the city at night is not an easy feat.

– Bring the tourists in! Instead of the bland sea-sand-sun concept, give them sea-sand-sun-shopping-sightseeing by night!

– Encourage artists to perform live, even little-known artists. Provide cheap shows for people to attend, maybe cheap theater shows? Half-price cinema tickets for the 21h session? Find some place to do all these. Or maybe mini-concerts?

– Encourage art galleries and other expositions to open only at night.

– Discounts at restaurants for dinners? Special family-night-out packages? Because Mauritians think in terms of “family” first, so you need to cater for that segment of the market. The problem may be that there are not that many restaurants in Mauritius, or they may have provided shows for people who are dining there? “An artist-a-day” kind of concept? Why only restaurants anyway? We need those “French cafΓ©s” in Mauritius too. Maybe a Starbucks or two? We have McDo, KFC, why not Starbucks? (The coffee is what is motivating me to put this here :P)

– Provide a lot more security. Security cameras are not security: we need a visible police force.

– Night activities? Like some after-hours coaching for some sport? Or “learn to play an instrument” sessions provided in some schools for the general public?

– Build some kind of hawkers’ market that opens only by night? Maybe a flea market where you can do some cheap shopping. No one wants to spend money, so give them an alternative which is as enjoyable as shopping.

– Upgrade infrastructures! We need more lighting in places that people visit! You can’t expect an event to work without investing a cent in it!

The 24/7 is an interesting idea, but maybe rushed without considering all the aspects of it first. There was simply not enough things to do, therefore not enough motivation for people to attend the event. And why in the world would they do the first Festival 24/7 in this cold of winter! Should have waited for summer!

  • πŸ˜€ If I organise a competition for best August post, you would give all the other bloggers a run for their money. Very well written article, constructive and enjoyable to read.

    You are right! There are so many factors deterring Mauritians to stay out at night as you enumerated above: security, transport, financial reasons. However, you missed an important one: the dodo factor πŸ™‚ Mauritians like to dodo at night, except when there is Champions League football.

  • “A typical dine-out would run around Rs. 500 per person”

    lol, depends where you are planning to dine out. One can go out for dinner for around Rs100 per head and have a reasonable feast at abt Rs150-200.

    “People who work at the Central Market were idling due to a lack of customers.”
    They were singing and drinking lol on saturday, pictures available as proof πŸ˜›
    I dont call this idling!
    There was one alouda stand which worked wonderfully koz it was the only one which deem necessary to participate in it, and I am sure that he has seen the money coming.

    “You need a change in the habits of the people”
    I have noticed that you are trying to be negative in this post and this will definitely not make things change.

    Perhaps you missed one of my posts, there was an interesting discussion on a few of the points mentioned here.

    Personally, I believe that “the root of the problem” is the reluctance to change their way of living and the mentality of people who only know to say “Ayo, gaspillage sa. kifer zotte bisin faire sa. ki eter sa kouyonade la!”

    I have myself heard a few people saying this [dont worry, nothing from ur blog] and the same people would enjoy having an extension for leisure and economical activities.

    Nice post and you did write about interesting posts, keep it up!

  • The only reason why this failed is because the shops weren’t open.. How could they even FINK of not consulting the people of chinatown !! ..
    Chinatown was closed.. !!
    And the chinatown festival brings mauritians for 2 nights.. and it is damn full.. much more than the 24/7 nights .. they should have no doubt included chinatown in the project .. because part of the city centre is chinatown ..

  • I would have better like that they kept summer times. I want to return home and have some sun. πŸ™‚

    Transportation is rather a strong factor in festival 24/7. I asked my friend if there would be buses to move to Port-Louis. The answer is obvious. πŸ™‚ There weren’t.

    Food is really expensive in Mauritius. Your one day pay is gone for a one night dinner. I would prefer having my own food. I save my money and do some intelligent spending.

    I believe that 24/7 could have taken a major part in our lives. Think of all the people working, do they have time to do some shopping? You may talk of the weekends. They are here for some peace of mind, not going to shop or do whatever.

    Everything needs to fit in properly for 24/7 to work. Plan, consult, plan, consult, plan, put to work, evaluate, plan, correct. Et voila. It will work in the end.

  • holy shit..

    what an article and reading this i totally agree with you..

    china town was dead right and there weren’t too many sino-mu people a’way in plouis this week-end.

    it depends which restaurant but restaurant alone isn’t good enough..we need coffee shops snacks etc to be open..restaurant is a class above and what mauritius needs is everything should be open.

    hawkers what an eyesore..i know this forms part of the folklore of mauritius certain the city but hawkers never should have been allowed there..

    how will shops be able to compete with hawkers? no wonder they won’t do sales

    i went there and spent the whole night. it was nice and money here is another problem..

    with all those taxes and fees each n every one is paying out thanks to those people who are running this country..pheww..

    tantot apm..3 rs par litre pu compensate hedging!!

  • Actually, it is a strange paradox .. the hawkers do not make the shops not to work.
    Bien o contraire ..
    Ofet the shops in city centre are most of them wholesalers.. the hawkers buy their goods at the wholesalers and retail them on the streets..
    People, like boutiquier and all who go to city centre will go to buy wholesale at wholesalers..not with hawkers.. the only people who buy with them are casual customers..
    Knowing the very few number of retailers in the city centre.. they are not affected at all..
    D’ailleurs they do not complain..
    And the reason why most shops were closed is because they are wholesalers.. and boutiquiers and small businesses from around mauritius won’t come with their vans to buy large quantities at night knowing it would be quite festive.. they mainly came to enjoy themselves.. πŸ™‚ Which is why the wholesalers didn’t find it necessary to open at nite πŸ™‚
    The food on the covered bridge at jardin de la compagnie .. you can dine for rs50-100 / person.. bien manzer meme i mean .. if u want juste 1 ti amuse guele.. bein rs25.. 1 bol haalim would do ..enplus gagne du pain tout..saeme ventre plein a moitier..

  • InF

    @Ashfaq: Yep! I just discovered those snacks on the covered bridge of Jardin Compagnie. Nice enough there, and very affordable too.

    @Mervin: I added you to my blogroll too! Thanks for adding me first! πŸ˜€

    However, the newspapers of today seem to be reporting that 24/7 was a success after all, with some 200,000 attendees. Maybe it was not a total failure after all, but merely, not optimal!

    Overall, I think it’s a worthwhile concept, if correctly implemented, so go 24/7! As long as I get things to do by night apart from shopping… πŸ™‚

    (An idea! If they wanted to reduce the hawker problems of Port Louis, have some hawkers operate only by night, and some by day! That would be interesting.)

  • Its simple:

    The previous government mascot was A Duty Free Island.

    This one’s mascot is 24/7 — Shorter and cooler as word.

    How far will it succeed? Not much as our way of living itself is totally different. Nice post btw.

  • InF

    Thanks Kurt. πŸ™‚

  • Vaiizard

    – “Start slow! Why 24/7? For starters, do a special β€œLate night day” instead. Say, Wednesday would be special late-night in Mauritius. Shops would be open till late, etc. Let people get used to the concept first. I think the organizers rushed ahead regarding this.’

    I totally agrees to that. Me i personally think that for mauritian it won’t work. We can take the “l’heure d’ete” for example. Why not change the legislation and allow shops, banks and other administrative office to work till 7 pm or 8 pm?
    Therefore people who got bank transactions or other business works to do they can do it after their work. It would also reduce the traffic going to p.louis a t peak hours.

    One of my idea to make p.louis lively…
    Why not start the horse racing at 5pm? Am 100% sure that this event alone will animate the capital.

    EDIT: Vaiizard, I merged both your comments into one. πŸ™‚

  • The horse racing has been here for very long and there are many who loves to throw away their money. changing the time of this *important* event will make many furious. (FUCK them).

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