The island of Mauritius remains a firm favourite for aff luent South Africans who are in search of an offshore property investment. Tax benefits, dual residency, political and economic stability, and a quality of living that is on par with what you will get in South Africa, are some of the incentives that go hand in hand with the transaction. Until the beginning of the Seventies, sugar cane accounted for 75% of the Mauritian GDP. It now represents 1%. When the EU announced the phasing out of its 1975 sugar protocol it was a death sentence for the country’s biggest industry.
Thereafter, however, a number of initiatives and activities were launched to diversify the island’s pool of income, as well as introducing a range of policies that attracted business and capital.
One of the secrets to the country’s success is the development of high-end tourism resorts integrated in the environment. The country is currently renowned for the hospitality that it affords holiday makers but also welcomes those looking for more permanent residence.
Foreigners can purchase property through an Integrated Resort Scheme (IRS) – an initiative of the Mauritian government, in collaboration with the Mauritian Board of Investments (BOI), which is designed to encourage resort and residential property investments by non-citizens. Foreign investors automatically qualify for permanent residence for themselves and their immediate family if they invest a minimum of $500 000 (R5.4m) in the IRS.
Added to this, foreign nationals can benefit from favourable tax conditions. There is no inheritance or capital gains tax in Mauritius – it’s one of the few countries that hasn’t implemented capital gains tax and also offers free repatriation of profits, dividends and capital. IRS BUYER PROFILE
Mauritius has one of the fastest-growing economies in Sub-Saharan Africa and according to the World Bank’s Doing Business 2013 report; the island is ranked as the easiest country in which to do business within the region.
“It’s an exciting economy,” says Rob Hudson, MD of Hayes, Matkovich & Associates, an SA-based property marketing and sales company. “And from a property investment perspective, if that property is underpinned by a strong economy – an economy that is creating opportunities for everyone – then it’s only going to keep the property market buoyant, which is what we have seen over the past five years.”
With the current political, security and economic risk experienced at home, “diversification of assets is a priority for South Africans now more than ever,” Hudson explains. He notes that potential buyers (from SA) see the opportunity as a form of medium- to long-term insurance and a form of protection against the current economic state in SA. The company is marketing two IRS developments – La Balise Marina and Villas Valriche – on behalf of the Mauritian Stock Exchange-listed ENL Group.
Since ENL’s property team came into existence in 2007 it has developed a number of ventures including the Bagatelle Mall of Mauritius in partnership with Atterbury Properties. The mall is located south of Port Louis and offers a taste of home for South Africans with its abundance of shops, including the likes of Woolworths, Food Lovers Market, Mr Price and Pick n Pay. NEW DEVELOPMENTS ON THE IRS MAP Villas Valriche, a luxury golf estate situated on the south west coast, has attracted a large amount of South African buyers. This sugar-cane farm turned property development targets SA’s ultra-rich who are in their mid-fifties and looking to retire in the near future.
La Balise Marina, situated in Black River (also nestled in the southwest of the country), is, on the other hand, attracting younger, more active owners who enjoy the boating and watersport lifestyle. It’s the only residential marina on the island that has been built solely for foreigners.
Single-storey and double-storey configurations at