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DW / Vilankulo
Several accommodation reservations have been cancelled, either in Inhambane or in Vilankulo, harming tour operators, who do not know how to face expenses. Hotels, restaurants and beaches are deserted.
Mozambican Airlines (LAM) ceased operations in the provinces of Tete, Manica and Inhambane since last week. The flagship carrier is not expected to resume operations in these regions, which will only see flights heading their way when a new company enters the service. The lack of air links to the city of Inhambane and the tourist village of Vilankulo is leaving tourism on the verge of collapse. Reservations have been cancelled, leaving tour operators unable to meet their expenses.
DW Africa visited several tourist resorts in this territory and found empty beds and restaurants and deserted beaches. Cancellations are piling up with every passing day.
Anselmo Alexandre, a manager at Vilankulo Beach Lodge hotel, says reservations have been cancelled due to the suspensions of flights. Some tourists had to rent cars to drive to Maputo and catch flights home. “Some customers ended up not coming because of this problem with LAM, and some were stuck here and ended up having to rent cars to get home,” he says.
Jill Poll, manager of the Casa Rex hotel, also in Vilankulo, said though that air travel in the region was not a recent problem and people had always had problems in catching flights. But this time, she adds, “it’s worse, because LAM has not been flying in or out of Vilankulo for almost a week, and we have people who have to leave.”
Yassin Amugy, a businessman with 20 years’ experience in the tourism industry, says that the lack of transportation for tourists is damaging the country’s image. “The impression left on their holidays is very negative and will not bring them back to our country. They will spread this message that we are not able to do tourism. That is why we are seeing Vilankulo more and more deserted, resorts closing, and investors deciding to close their hotels and lodges and leave,” he says.
Due to the cost of air tickets, Isabel Pereira, a Portuguese tourist who comes to Vilankulo every year, prefers to travel by road, despite the time involved.
According to this regular visitor, it is “very expensive to travel to Vilankulo”. Even flying from South Africa is not cheap; it is cheaper to come by car.
Tourism in Inhambane accounts for almost sixty percent of the southern province’s revenues, and Vilankulo is the tourism zone par excellence. In Yassin Amugy’s opinion, good strategies and lower air fares are necessary to strengthen the sector.
“To declare that tourism is a priority sector will not make anything out of this world happen. We need to know what the needs of tour operators are,” he said. “We are falling behind in terms of tourism. Coming to Vilankulo is more expensive than going to Mauritius, Dubai or the Bahamas. We need to find ways to lower costs.”Source: Deutsche Welle