Nacala airport in Mozambique starts receiving international flights this year
Wimbe beach, Pemba. File photo
The head of the Mozambican tourist association believes that the recent attacks in Cabo Delgado could ” undermine the good name of the country” as a tourist destination, but says there is as yet no sign of cancellations.
According to the president of the Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators of Mozambique (AVITUM), Noor-Momade, the problem is “localised” in areas with little tourism, and therefore “does not directly affect the activity”, but could damage the country’s reputation.
“The attacks on people and property in Cabo Delgado, without properly affecting tourism, are a threat to this activity which the Mozambican authorities are certainly taking seriously considering all the political work and defence and security forces actions that have been carried out,” the president of Avitum says in a written response sent to Lusa agency.
Noor-Momade adds that security issues “have been given proper treatment and due attention by the competent authorities”, with whom the tourism sector “maintains permanent contact”, and stresses that there are always “alternatives to offer, given that the country is vast and has almost three thousand kilometres of coastline”.
Among the most visited regions of Mozambique are the Maputo, Ponta do Ouro, Inhambane beaches, Vilanculos and surrounding islands in the south, Gorongosa National Park in the centre the country, and Pemba and Ilha de Moçambique in the north.
Tourists come mostly from South Africa but also from Brazil, Portugal, Germany, the UK, Spain and the Middle East.
Noor-Momade is optimistic about the expansion of the sector.
“We had a very big setback during the political-military conflict, but now the tendency is to improve,” he said, pointing out several factors that have helped boost tourism, such as it being chosen as a priority area of governance by the current executive, which reintroduced border visas; the training of police and customs agents to assist tourists; and the government’s decision to open the airspace and authorise the entry of a new airline for domestic flights, which lowered travel prices.
“The proposals for the coming year are of more and more work and of a better way of being and of acting of all the players relevant for the operation of the tourism sector,” from economic agents to the government, the public administration and Mozambicans themselves, who Noor-Momade describes as a “hospitable people”.
According to the WTTC’s annual economic impact report released in March 2018, the direct contribution of this sector to the economy was 3.4% in 2107 (US$455.9 million dollars) and is expected to increase by 7.3% to US$803 million in 2018.
The sector accounted for 271,500 jobs in 2017 (2.8% of total employment) a figure expected to grow by 6.2% in 2018 to 288,000 jobs, including hotel workers, travel agencies, airlines and other transportation services, as well as catering and leisure.
Of 185 countries surveyed by the WTTC, Mozambique ranked 108th in terms of the tourism and travel sector’s relative contribution to GDP , but is expected to rise 15 places in 2018 and 54 by 2028.
According to official figures, about 100 people have died in the violenxce in Cabe Delgado over the course of the year.
This wave of violence in Cabo Delgado (2,000 kilometres north of Maputo in the far north of Mozambique, near Tanzania) erupted after an armed attack on police stations in Mocímboa da Praia in October 2017.
At the time, two agents were killed by a group from a local mosque that preached insurgency against the state and whose habits caused friction with residents for at least two years.
After Mocímboa da Praia, several attacks have occurred that are suspected to be related to the same type of group, always away from the asphalt and outside the plant’s zone of implantation and other infrastructures of the oil companies that are going to explore natural gas in the peninsula of Afungi , district of Palma, in the north of the country.