As it seeks to grow its tourism economy, Mozambique should harness its emerging destination status to steer clear of the pitfalls of overtourism experienced by more developed economies with similar tourism offerings.

The developing country is on a drive to boost tourism numbers through relaxed visa policies, new tourism investment projects and intensified marketing campaigns, among other initiatives.

“The status as an emerging destination can be a distinct advantage,” explains Cordelia Masher, a tourism business development specialist and co-founder of destination marketing company, Destination Mozambique. “We have seen problems with overtourism in places such as Mauritius and the Seychelles, and Mozambique can learn lessons from that.”

Masher said environmental sensitivity and community involvement were two of the areas that could be focused on,

“We must make sure that the properties we establish are generally smaller, so that we don’t decimate the ocean through pollution and the killing off of coral. It’s important to protect what is our natural heritage and also make sure that we rope the communities in to the many different opportunities that are created by tourism.”

Easier access

While cognisant of the dangers of overtourism in the future, tour operators who support the responsible development of Mozambique’s tourism industry want to see easier access to tourism offerings, through increased air connectivity and the fast roll-out of approved visa changes. 

“We need more low-cost airlines in the destination as tickets are very expensive. Secondly, we need more direct connectivity with other southern African destinations such as Victoria Falls, Maun and Zambia so that Mozambique can be better incorporated into itineraries,” said Martijn Mellaart, COO Sense of Oceans. 

He said implementation of the eVisa policy would be crucial.

“The visa process at the border or at the respective embassies around the world has proved very costly and time consuming. It has been hindering the growth and pushed many overseas agents away from promoting Mozambique. Other beach destinations in the region have far simpler procedures,” said Mellaart.