New investors in post-independence Mauritius – The South West Tourist Development Company

  • The largest sugar estate on the island

    Mr. Jackaria Ahmed sold the Sugar Estate in 1910 to a newly formed company: La Compagnie Sucrière de Bel Ombre. The latter was formed by Emile Sauzier, Eugène de Rosnay, A. James Wilson, Edouard Rouillard, Oscar Pilot, Robert Pitot and Georges Antelme. The same year, the Beau Champ and Sainte Marie estates were purchased, bringing the surface area of land under ownership to 5842 acres. Further expanding the estate’s lands, Frederica with its 621 acres and Bon Courage bringing an additional 342 acres were acquired in 1914 and 1934, respectively. Finally, Chamarel and Case Noyale were acquired in 1951, bringing the total surface area of the estate to 12,200 acres. This significant expansion over the first half of the 20th century made Bel Ombre the largest estate on the island, with a mix of forests, hunting grounds and husbandry in addition to its 5040 acres under sugar cultivation.


New majority shareholder

The survival of the company therefore relied on an influx of new investment to stay afloat, and in 1971 the South West Tourist Development Company, a subsidiary of Rogers, became the majority shareholder. This acquisition was led by Amédée Maingard de la Ville-ès-Offrans, known to be a pioneer in the aviation and tourism sectors of Mauritius. It is said that he had anticipated the tourism potential of the area, even though the company did not engage in any tourism business until three decades later. 


The transition from sugar to tourism

The sugar preferential agreements with Europe kept trade afloat for a few decades but was dismantled gradually. With an important proportion of the Bel Ombre sugar cane lands on mountain slopes, the soil eroded, and productivity fell. The topography also created challenges in terms of the mechanization of the growing and harvest process.

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