Parts Better Known
By TBY | Mozambique | May 27, 2014
Parts Better Known
With an increasing number of people entering the country by air, Maputo International Airport has been extended so as to accommodate even the largest aircraft. The government is also planning the further rehabilitation of its airports in popular tourism destinations in the north of the country, such as Pemba. In addition to improving airport infrastructure, the government also intends to extend a road network across the entire country by 2018 and connect South Africa all the way up to Tanzania.
PARKS & RECREATION
Mozambique has much to offer the world and is beginning to cement its place as a premier tourist destination in Africa. The world-class Gorongosa Park, with tropical beaches, and cosmopolitan cities, has the ability to attract tourists from many walks of life. During the colonial period, the most common visitors were those of southern Africa and Portugal, totaling around 400,000 annually. However, after independence in 1975 and the subsequent civil war, tourist numbers quickly declined and much of the country’s primary infrastructure was badly damaged. In a remarkable turn around, the past decade has seen high levels of investment in Mozambique’s recovery and tourists have begun to flood back. In an effort to maintain this upward trend, the government has embarked on the reconstruction and creation of a number of new facilities. In addition to attracting more tourists, these new projects are also aimed at foreign companies, especially those from Portugal, China, and the UK, to help boost Mozambique’s tourism industry.
While growth of the tourist sector has been impressive over the past decade, there are still some underlining issues hindering Mozambique from reaching its full potential. Accommodation options in the country are divided between budget, backpacker accommodation, and five-star luxury accommodation on the islands. “Finding more affordable accommodation for European tourists is a gap in the market, and there is room for development there,” explained Natalie Tenzer-Silva, Director of Dana Tours, one of the most successful tourism agencies in Mozambique. Carvalho Muária, the Minister of Tourism, confirmed to TBY that the accommodation shortage has created some problems in recent years; “If a plane arrives with 1,000 people at Maputo Airport, we may not have the capacity to accommodate them. Therefore, there is room for investment in hotel construction, especially business hotels in Maputo, Cabo Delgado, and Pemba.” With the introduction of a travel accommodation requalification plan, which has been promoted by the Mozambican government and private investors, developments in the luxury accommodation sector have been made. Local companies have also been improving their services in an effort to increase their star ratings. “This year, we are growing not only in terms of occupancy, but also revenue. We also have lower costs and have become a more efficient operation. Around 95% of our guests are business travelers, and we host many government and business meetings here,” Miguel Afonso dos Santos, General Manager of Polana Serena Hotel, explained to TBY.
Among the key objectives of the tourism sector over 2013 was the continuation of the rehabilitation of conservation areas and the protection of the country’s biodiversity, while carrying out promotional initiatives to position Mozambique as a world-class tourism destination. In addition to this, the government also wants to develop a tourism management information system. “It is possible to see tourism being a $20 million business in Gorongosa alone. Then, each tourist here could spend even more when they go to the beach or Maputo,” Greg Carr, President of Gorongosa Park Oversight Committee told TBY. Gorongosa is a 4,000-square-kilometer national park located in central Mozambique, originally created as a hunting reserve, but becoming a national park in the 1960s. The park is home to over 129 different mammals, 400 types of birds, 33 reptiles, and over 2,000 plant species and also expects a growth in tourist interest, looking for an exceptional and unconventional experience.
The country has also managed to develop the niche markets of the sector, and the Strategic Plan for the Development of Tourism in Mozambique focused on five of them: deep sea fishing and diving, hunting, bird watching and ecotourism, cruise ships, luxury (tropical islands), and culture. The Mozambique Tourism Authority has been present at a variety of international fairs and events to stimulate the number of arrivals from important emerging markets, such as China, in which it is creating a permanent outpost. The first edition of the Gungula Moçambique—International Tourism Fair took place in October 2013, in Maputo, and attracted thousands of tourism representatives. Mozambique has also enlisted the help of UNESCO, when in 2013 it attracted $17 million and six UN agencies and entities experts in the fields of culture, tourism, health, education, labor, agriculture, industry and trade, youth and sport, and science and technology to help all levels of government promoting the importance and effectiveness of culture in Mozambique in the context of development. Another institution set up to help with Mozambique’s progress is the National Directorate for the Promotion of Cultural Industries (DNPIC). One of the program’s major successes has been the establishment of the Wood Bank for the Craft Association (ASARUNA) in Nampula. Similarly, the Arco-Norte project, funded by USAID, has been providing technical assistance to tourism sector entities in the northern provinces of Nampula, Niassa, and Cabo Delgado. In the same vein, the í‚ncora projects, which have been set up in many areas across the north, are helping to stimulate investment in the area by specifically targeting certain locations and objectives with the aim of developing these provinces into high-quality centers for tourism.
Mozambique’s tourism potential speaks for itself. There are over 2,700 kilometers of coastline on the Indian Ocean, conservation areas covering approximately 15% of the country, and a unique culture, Mozambique has the potential to develop into an exciting tourism destination.
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