What strategies have you set for INATUR for the next two to three years to promote tourism in Mozambique?
INATUR has defined certain key strategies to develop tourism in Mozambique and targets major source markets such as the UK, Germany, Portugal, and South Africa. We also want to focus more on Asia. We need to reach high standards of service to meet the expectations of visitors and tourists coming to the country. The government has made training in hospitality and tourism a priority, and we have initiated training programs in line with the tourism strategy. We also focus on promoting investment and want to attract international hotel chains. The government has selected certain areas where we will develop integrated tourism projects, like Crusse and Jamali in Nacala, Metangula in Niassa, Quirimbas in Cabo Delgado, and Inhassoro in Inhambane. We want to take advantage of the new international airport in Nacala to link with the Ilha de Moçambique, a recognized UNESCO World Heritage site, to develop a cultural tourism destination. In addition, we would like to develop Vilankulo further. We are seeking partners to develop the site along the marginal facing Bazaruto Archipelago. The plan is to develop the waterfront at Vilankulo and link it with the Bazaruto Archipelago. In Inhassoro, just north of Vilankulo, there is another zone reserved as a special tourism area where we have designed a conceptual project as well.
What areas have the most potential for luxury tourism in Mozambique, and which projects will be coming online soon?
Starting from the south, Milibangalala is a concession that was given to one of our companies, Mozaico do Ìndico, which then entered into a partnership with the private sector to develop a luxury lodge in a conservation area. It will be a top service lodge for high-spending customers, and is expected to be complete by the end of 2016 or early 2017. In the north we have similar luxury lodges in Quirimbas already operational. The Bazaruto Archipelago is also a destination where you can find luxury lodges and is known as a honeymoon destination. Specifically for Crusse and Jamali, since this is within the special economic zone, we are working with Mozambique's Office for Economic Areas with Accelerated Development (Gazeda) to attract investors to develop integrated coastal tourism village across 1,750ha with hotel, retail, commercial, housing, recreational amenities, and land subdivision.
In 2014, most billionaires visiting Africa went to Mozambique's neighbor South Africa. How are you working to develop the luxury tourism market here?
The main challenge is to attract tourists and visitors to Mozambique, especially the luxury and high-end segment. The issue of visas is being considered by the government and will be addressed appropriately in due course. Easing visa policies and reducing the costs will make more convenient and these will attract more visitors. Another recurring issue is transportation. The airports at Vilankulo and Nacala now make travel to various destinations within the country easier while the new international airport in Nacala will reduce flight time to Europe by two hours. From Nacala, it will be easy to get to Vamizi and the other 32 islands at Quirimbas. We are also working on marketing and promotion, especially for luxury resorts, and are collaborating with travel agencies by developing brochures and related materials.
What are your hopes for INATUR in 2016?
I have high expectations for the year and I believe we can make great gains compared to last year. We receive about 1 million visitors to Mozambique annually and want to increase that number to 1.5 million in 2016. We will continue to grow, increase revenues, and develop more projects, while increasing overall employment in the sector. From 2010-14, 20,000 new beds were added to the system. Occupancy is only high in Maputo, with the rest of the country still lagging behind. We want to increase the overall number of available beds and improve occupancy rates at the same time.