Travel & Tourism 2023

56 | LUXlife Magazine - Travel & Tourism Awards 2023 As a published journalist, Jill understands the importance of keeping marine conservation in the news. The island has exceptional conservationist legislation in place to protect its marine resources, and Jill has published more than 26 articles to build awareness of the subject. Ocean Spirit provides free boat diving to marine biologists who arrive on the island to conduct studies. Keeping a daily record of marine sightings on a database, the team shares the information it gathers with Reef Conservation. The company also supports the effort to monitor turtle populations on the island. Looking to the future, Jill plans to expand Ocean Spirit into a Training Centre to provide PADI scuba training for gap year students and youngsters who have left school and have a passion for ocean conservation. We plan to provide both diving and accommodation for them, and of course for visiting divers. She explains, “We’ll promote marine conservation and sustainability, Mauritian humility, respect and warmth.” Contact: Ocean Spirit: [email protected] Company: Ocean Spirit Scuba Diving Mauritius Web Address: n 2016, keen scuba diver Jill Holloway arrived in Mauritius. Falling in love with the gentle island, she decided to stay, splitting her time between Mauritius and her native South Africa. Located in the Indian Ocean, over 1000 km east of Madagascar, the island has grown a reputation as a safe, family-friendly destination. Its multicultural population blends influences from around the world into an intriguing and vibrant identity all its own. As a location for scuba diving, Mauritius offers so much. With around 275 miles of diveable coastline, the experiences the underwater world has to offer are many. But in 2020, the island’s ecology suffered a hammer blow when a 300-metre carrier ship ran aground. The ship, known as the Wakashio, came to rest on the reef at Point Desney. Soon after, the wreck began leaking oil, turning the beautiful turquoise ocean black. Thanks to the urgent intervention of the Mauritian and French governments, local businesses, conservationists, and scuba divers, the spill was soon brought under control. Today there is evidence that the reef is re-growing – a testament to the speed and efficiency of the clean-up effort by everyone concerned. Jill shares, “I served on the Crisis Committee as International Media Liaison. The Mauritian government’s handling of the disaster followed international guidelines and was extremely competent. I reported on the progress of the clean-up operation and reassured tourists, interacting with consultants Hills Balfour and the Editor of Scubaverse the Mauritian online diving magazine.” Jill’s diving company, Ocean Spirit, is a 5-star PADI scuba diving centre that also holds a PADI Green Star. PADI awards the Green Star to diver centres and resorts able to demonstrate their dedication to conservation across all business functions. At Ocean Spirit, a team of dedicated staff support the operation. The diving operation is overseen by Divemaster Bernard and Ocean Aware Instructors, Bobby and Yogesh. Nando looks after tech and marketing and Jovany Marie is both a linguist and a boat maintenance expert. Brian and Riki take care of the day-to-day management of the company. Jill likes to call them ‘the glue that holds everything together.’ On receiving the award Jill tells us, “Our team have earned this award through their dedication, perseverance and commitment to both Mauritius and Ocean Spirit. They are strong contributors to Brand Mauritius, and our returning clients are a testament to this. Bryan and Riki have spent hours travelling and editing videos promoting littleknown aspects of Mauritian life.” Most Educational Ocean Awareness & Conservation Centre - Mauritius The spirit of the ocean, and of Mauritius, is the power behind Ocean Spirit Diving. More than a scuba diving company, Ocean Spirit is passionate about promoting marine conservation and eco-friendly living to locals and tourists alike. Based in Pereybere, on the northernmost tip of Mauritius, the company is the brainchild of philanthropist and diving journalist, Jill Holloway. We take a look at the company as it is now, and its aspirations for the future. I