Travel agents no longer have the stomach to promote Mauritius as a holiday destination, the head of the Irish Travel Agents Association said today.
Cork man Pat Dawson, chief executive of the Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA), was speaking in the wake of the ‘not guilty’ verdict at the murder trial of Michaela McAreavey in Mauritius yesterday.
He said travel to Mauritius had “fallen off the radar” since the brutal murder in January last year.
The failure to find her killers means the idyllic island would remain a no-go destination for Irish couples.
Mr Dawson said: “It certainly would have gone off the radar over the last 18 months. There were never thousands of people going to Mauritius, but since the murder, travel agents wouldn’t be pushing it as a destination, especially not for honeymooners.
“It’s very hard to talk up a place after something awful like that. Ireland is a small place and we all feel like we knew that couple. It’s the only thing you think of now when Mauritius is mentioned.
“Our members wouldn’t have the stomach to push a brochure for Mauritius in front of a couple now.”
Mr Dawson, of Dawson Travel in Cork, said it could be years before Mauritius rebuilds the damage done in the minds of the Irish public.
Two former hotel workers, Avinash Treebhoowoon and Sandip Moneea, were found not guilty of the murder of Ms McAreavey yesterday.
The 27-year-old daughter of Tyrone football manager Mickey Harte was found strangled in her room at the luxury Legends Hotel 18 months ago while on honeymoon with her husband, John.
A statement from both sides of her family last night said:
“After waiting 18 months in search of justice for Michaela and following the endurance of seven harrowing weeks of this trial, there are no words which can describe the sense of devastation and desolation now felt by both families.”
One of the acquitted men, Avinash Treebhoowoon, is now considering making a claim for damages against the Mauritian state.
Defence lawyer Sanjeev Teeluckdharry said today:
“I hope that the inquiry is re-opened and the matter is investigated in a proper form, a scientific and serious manner so that we can find justice.”
John McAreavey is expected to return to Ireland this weekend with his father, sister and brother-in-law, Mark Harte.