019_G19_Tourism

Global

Global Insight Tourism its dramatic rebirth”. But the country persists in making things hard for itself through onerous visa requirements – an official letter of invitation, documents concerning purpose of travel, itinerary, proof of funds: all are required weeks beforehand. Tourism is based on natural beauty – rivers; waterfalls and scenic coastline; wildlife parks; ruined vestiges of Portuguese colonialism. Despite improved infrastructure and security, travel in Angola remains “the preserve of adventurers, diehards or those on flexible budgets”. But with the transport network gradually recovering and wildlife imported to re-populate national parks, signs of recovery are “more than just a mirage”. Mozambique, long wracked by guerilla wars, is also piecing itself together. “An up-and-coming hot-spot, with stunning beaches (it has more than 1,500 miles of coastline), excellent diving and magical offshore islands,” enthuses Lonely Planet. You can sail on a dhow through mangrove channels; go on safari; wander among colonial era buildings on Ilha de Moçambique – pleasures that were unthinkable 20 years ago. The Mozambique government considers tourism a ‘cornerstone of economic development’ In southern Mozambique, roads and transport links, especially with South Africa, are said to be good and accommodation plentiful. “Getting around takes time but the sense of space, sheer adventure of travel and – for those with a healthy budget – some of the continent’s most idyllic island lodges make the journey well worthwhile” – is Lonely Planet’s compelling sales pitch. The Mozambique government considers tourism a “cornerstone of social and economic development, and the fight against poverty” and is angling for foreign investment. Priority areas have been identified, with the aim of developing ‘community-based’ resorts, better infrastructure, a skilled workforce and a competitive aviation sector. But Mozambique’s rehabilitation has not been without hiccups. In Luanda, Angola’s capital city and main port, is undergoing major redevelopment its interior, there have been clashes between fighters from the revived rebel group Renamo and the army – the worst since the 15-year-long civil war ended in 1992. This has prompted the Foreign Office to advise against all but essential travel to Sofala Province, apart from Beira, the provincial capital. Most resorts, however, lie south of the conflict zone. The FCO reports isolated incidents in Manica, Nampula, Inhambane and, more recently, in Zambezia and Tete. There is, it says, a “low threat from terrorism”. But it is FCO’s job to err on the side of caution. The adventurous will take heart that “most visits to Mozambique are trouble-free”, though “violent crime does occur” and criminal kidnappings have increased. Analysts downplay the likelihood of a return to full-scale conflict, but locals in the tourism business fear recent events may scare visitors away. After so long and brutal a conflict, it’s unsurprising that confidence remains fragile. Many of the world’s most beautiful countries may be begging to be explored, yet some seem fated to remain cursed by their grim recent history. Andrew Mourant is a freelance journalist whose specialisms include tourism and the environment Africa ‘is not one country’ Potential investors in Africa’s tourism industry are more likely to succeed if they understand that each country is unique and take the trouble to understand local business culture, according to research by Bench Events. Speaking ahead of the Africa Hotel Investment Forum’s 2014 conference, key players in the continent’s hotel business agreed that African markets are progressively being seen as open for business, regardless of perceptions of eminent risk. Michael Cooper, vice-president of development in Sub-Saharan Africa for Hilton Worldwide told researchers that investors should “remember that Africa is not one country”. The industry as a whole should talk to each government about the post pressing issues, he added. “Collectively we must continue to put pressure on all African governments for open skies and visafree travel.” Kevin Underwood, global leader of leisure and culture for Aecom, told researchers that forming local partnerships and taking advantage of local expertise was crucial to a successful business venture: “Any development project must have a local sequence and one must understand the culture of the African countries. There are no shortcuts.” Lourie Kruger, VP M&A and treasury at Kingdom Hotel Investments, agreed. “The only way to grow your business effectively is to have really strong relationships. When you don’t have the infrastructure like you do in other markets, those relationships make everything much more efficient.” The Africa Hotel Investment Forum takes place in Addis Ababa between 29 September and 1 October: www.africa-conference.com www.global global four th quar ter 2014 -br ief ing.org l 19


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