How Mozambique is Earning its Tourism Hype
After emerging from a long Civil War, Mozambique has quickly become one of Africa’s tourism darlings. The country, located in the continent’s southeast, has a growing number of beach destinations, private island retreats and wildlife sanctuaries like Gorongosa National Park.
These attractions have earned Mozambique a spot on a number of “next best thing” lists. The country now seems poised to take the next step to develop its tourism industry. Being a buzzed-about hotspot is good for attracting attention from adventure-seeking tourists and guidebook writers.
However, neighboring South Africa and Botswana both have well-established tourism industries and are among the most accessible and most user-friendly places on the continent (though Botswana is also one of the most expensive). Mozambique has a ways to go if it wants to be considered a quintessential Southern African destination like its two high profile neighbors.
A new strategy for a new era
A recent announcement by Mozambique's tourism authorities signals that the country understands that it is now time to take the next step. The Strategic Plan for Tourism Development 2015/2024 offers insight into what is coming in the next decade. The overall goal of the Plan is to improve the quality in sectors related to travel and hospitality.
Increasing the number of hotel and resort options is an important part of the strategy. A better climate for investing would certainly help bring more big brands and more luxury boutique hotels and resorts to the country. The media coverage that Mozambique has gotten over the past few years has already made investors and developers aware that possibilities exist in Southeast Africa.
Raising the level of quality
Government spokesperson Mouzinho Saide, during a speech announcing the strategy, pointed out two different areas where improvements can be made on a grassroots level. First, and more obviously, Saide highlighted the need for greater access to hospitality training. This would help economically because not only would tourists be able to have access to better services, but local people would be able to share in the country’s tourism success through new education and employment opportunities.
The other aspect of tourism quality control is making certain that every business that operates in the country meets a certain standard of ethics and quality. Mozambique’s cabinet members have already passed a motion to regulate the industry by requiring training and licenses for guides, agents and other travel industry professionals.
Banking on old connection for a new renaissance
This kind of regulation will, ideally, create a baseline for the kind of quality that people can expect while traveling in Mozambique. The timeline, stated right in the plan’s title (2015/2024), makes it obvious that this is not an overnight proposition. There could be some immediate effects, however. Potential investors will be encouraged by the announcement of the Strategic Plan for Tourist Development because it shows that a new phase is underway and Mozambique will be able to compete on a more level playing field with neighboring destinations in the near future.
Both Mozambique and its southwest coast peer, Angola, are marketing themselves to the Portuguese speaking world. They are banking on connections with Portugal, Brazil and other lusophone countries and territories to provide a first wave of tourists.
Mozambique has certainly had a meteoric rise since the end of its civil war in the 1990s. Luckily, the country seems to be organizing itself so that it can build on its postwar success instead of just reveling in the status quo.
More by Josh Lew
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