MOZAMBIQUE - Tourism
Director General, Mozambique Tourism Authority (INATUR)
Albino Celestino Mahumana was born in Maputo. He studied Tourism Management at Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, and holds an MA in Financial Economics from London University. From 2011 he worked in Inhambane Province for a World Bank-funded project aimed at developing the private sector and increasing competitiveness, and was subsequently appointed Director General of INATUR in June 2015.
Mozambique has huge potential in the tourism industry. We have about 2,700km of coastline with all kinds of beaches, marine life, and wildlife. It is up to us to develop and realize this potential to generate employment and revenue. The National Tourism Authority has defined certain key strategies to develop tourism in Mozambique, so we want to target the major source markets such as the UK, Germany, Portugal, and South Africa, and we also want to focus more on Asia. We can do more in the Asian market, and see huge potential there going forward. We understand that our tourism services are facing a challenge at present, and that we need 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, and we have initiated a number of training programs in line with the tourism strategy. We are looking for a partnership to develop a vocational tourism training center for hospitality and tourism, having in mind that we need excellence in training if we are to attain overall excellence in the tourism industry. The training center will have to go a long way to achieving that and consolidating what we have done so far before moving forward. We are now in the process of training the instructors. Our hotels have classifications and standards that are out of date. We need to bring them up-to-date and make sure that all of the services meet expectations. If you are staying in a three- or four-star hotel, you should experience the respective service quality. We are training experts who will do that grading. The third area on which we are focusing is promoting investment. We 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, linking with the Ilha de Mozambique, which is a recognized UNESCO World Heritage site, to develop a cultural tourism destination. In addition, Vilankulo is also an area where we would like to develop further. Here, we are looking for a partner that we will together develop the site with along the marginal facing Bazaruto Archipelago, which belongs to IGEPE, the Management of State Holdings and INATUR. In Vilankulo, the idea is to develop the waterfront and link it with the Bazaruto Archipelago. In Inhassoro, just north of Vilankulo, there is another zone that was reserved as a special tourism area. We designed a conceptual project for that area as well. Those are the key activities that we have selected.
Starting from the south, Milibangalala is a concession that was given to one of our companies, Mozaico do Ündico, which then entered into a partnership with the private sector to develop a luxury lodge in a conservation area. It would be a top service lodge for high-spending customers, and for that project work is due to begin soon. The project is expected to be complete by the end of 2016 or beginning of 2017. In 2017 we expect to see the first guests. In the north we have similar luxury lodges in Quirimbas already opened. And 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 now working with Mozambique’s Office for Economic Areas with Accelerated Development (Gazeda) to attract investors to develop integrated coastal tourism villages across 1,750 hectares with hotel, retail, commercial, housing, recreational amenities, and land subdivision.
The main challenge now is how to attract tourists and visitors to Mozambique, especially for the luxury and high-end segment. The issue of visas is under consideration by the government and in due course this will be addressed appropriately. There is feeling that trying to make it less expensive to get a visa, and also easing visa policies, will attract more visitors, which means more business. That was the feeling we got in a quick survey with the business operators in the industry. Tour operators have expressed concerns about bureaucratic obstacles such as obtaining visas because, according to them, this is hindering development. Another recurring issue is transportation. The airports at Vilankulo and Nacala make connectivity to the various destinations in the country easier, while the new international airport in Nacala will reduce flight time to Europe by two hours. Working from Nacala, it would be easy to get to Vamizi and to other 32 islands at Quirimbas. We are also working on marketing and promotion, especially for luxury resorts, and we are collaborating with travel agencies by developing brochures and related materials.
Tourism contributes about 5-6% to GDP, but we believe we have the potential for that to reach 10%. Our aim is to realize the potential of the sector, and to bring this industry to the level it should be at in Mozambique.
I have high expectations for the year, and I believe we can make great gains compared to last year. We get about one million visitors to Mozambique annually, but in 2016 we want to increase that number to 1.5 million. We will continue growing, increasing revenues, and developing 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.
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