French tour operator, Exotismes, in their annual competition in which over 500 travel agents participated, gave the 20 winners a double surprise this year. To start with, the winners were only told when they arrived at the airport in Paris CDG where their journey would take them. The destination alone was a big surprise as it comprised a week on the French Indian Ocean island of Reunion, followed by another week on the neighboring Vanilla Island of Mauritius. The agents were flown from Paris to their two destinations by Reunion Island’s home airline, Air Austral, and plenty of action awaited them during their stay on the islands.
Taking a hint from the notorious pirate, Olivier Levasseur, who roamed the Indian Ocean waters in search of bounty three hundred years ago, but who was captured and hanged in Reunion Island, the organizers were presented with a range of challenges to the 20 agents. They had to measure up in a dozen disciplines of sport, games, and cultural knowledge, turning their stay on Reunion Island into a week-long learning exercise for them about the destination. From discovering Tamil temples to experiencing the famous Maloya, from the hidden sites of St. Paulon on the west coast to the nature reserve of L’Etang, to scaling the mountains of the interior, the group did it all.
And there came the second surprise into play. The three top performers, due to be announced only at a Reunion Island night on September 10 in Marseilles, will then find out who of the 20 will go home with an extra prize in the form of a gold ingot. The overall winner will get one of 250 grams weight, the first runner up one of 100 grams weight, and the second runner up one of 50 grams weight of pure gold.
So travel agents really did have the chance to strike gold, by being able to visit Reunion Island and then getting another chance for an additional prize, earned through absorbing destination knowledge and putting it to good use.