Tourism is recognized as an economic activity of global importance. According to estimates from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the tourism and travel sector generates around $7 trillion per year, represents around 9.5% of global GDP, and provides employment to over 260 million people worldwide. These numbers have followed a positive trend over the past years and they are expected to keep growing. In fact, according to data from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), international tourist arrivals increased by 51 million in 2014, reaching a total of over 1 billion.
The 2015 Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report by the World Economic Forum shows that the most competitive economies in terms of tourism and travel in Sub-Saharan Africa are South Africa, ranking 48th, Seychelles in 54th, Mauritius in 56th, Namibia in 70th, and Kenya in 78th. Despite its 2,700km of coastline and mesmerizing landscapes, Mozambique does not make the list until the 130th spot. According to Albino Celestino Mahumana, Director General of Mozambique Tourism Authority (INATUR), tourism currently contributes 5-6% of Mozambican GDP. However, INATUR believes there is potential for that number to reach 10%.
During the first half of 2015 Mozambique received more than 830,000 foreign tourists and tourism revenue reached $85 million. Mr. Mahumana told TBY that in 2016 the country wants to have 1.5 million visitors. Despite the numbers, Mozambique might very well be one of the most underrated countries in global tourism.
In order to solve this problem, the government of Mozambique recently approved the Mozambique Strategic Plan for Tourism Development 2015-2024, hoping to increase its competitiveness in the sector, promote investments, and improve the regulatory framework that governs the industry. This strategy also aims to increase the quantity and quality of accommodations in the country and to bring in new brands and more luxury choices to the market.
According to a recent survey by New World Wealth SA, the most popular African destination for individuals with net assets of over $10 million is South Africa. From September 2014 to September 2015, the African continent hosted 43,000 multi-millionaires, of whom only 1,000 went to Mozambique. South Africa had the largest number of super-rich visitors, with 11,000 tourists arriving. Given to Mozambique’s close proximity to South Africa, it seems it should be able to take advantage of its neighbor’s assets. Countries like Botswana and Kenya hosted 2,000 more super-rich tourists than Mozambique.
In terms of luxury developments, Mr. Mahumana mentioned Milibangalala, a luxury lodge in a conservation area that will be complete by the end of 2016 or beginning of 2017. Similar luxury lodges can be found at the Bazaruto Archipelago or Quirimbas, a group of 32 stunning islands surrounded by white sand and turquoise waters. In order to facilitate the movement of tourists the airports at Vilankulo and Nacala International Airport, recently inaugurated, can reduce the flight time from and to Europe by two hours.
In order to satisfy the demands of this type of tourism, Mozambique needs to invest in hospitality training. As Mr. Mahumana told TBY, Mozambique needs to “reach high standards of service to meet the expectations of visitors and tourists coming to the country. The government has set training in hospitality and tourism as a priority. … We need excellence in training if we are to attain overall excellence in the tourism industry.“