Sustainable Tourism Development in Mozambique: A Case Study

This case study was presented by Sarah Fazendin of the Fazendin Portfolio at the ATTA (Adventure Travel Trade Association) World Summit in October 2009.  Reefs to Rockies has been working closely with the Fazendin Portfolio and industry partners in Mozambique to develop itineraries that emphasize sustainability and conservation efforts in the region.  The launch of Reefs to Rockies “Mozambique: By Land and By Sea” incorporates several of the initiatives mentioned in the case study below.

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Case Study
For nearly 40 years, Mozambique suffered at the hands of both colonial and indigenous governments. By the 1990’s, years of war and drought left Mozambique one of the poorest, least educated countries in the world. Much of today’s workforce in Mozambique grew up knowing nothing but war, have had little or no formal education, and have certainly had no tourism training. The one exception would be those employed by the coastal tourism industry, historically focused on the mass, mid-market travelers coming primarily from South Africa.
Today, Mozambique is a destination that many in the African tourism industry have recognized as capable of conservation and able to sustain a luxury travel product (travel product that follows the low-volume, high-yield approach). Not entirely unexpected, the majority of funding for conservation and community initiatives across Mozambique is currently coming primarily from international investment and from luxury tourism development.
One of the destination’s key selling points is that it remains free of crowds and is not “commercialized” like many other regions of southern Africa. Even the more popular and more densely developed archipelago beach regions are protected from over-development as they are National Parks and the likelihood of them gaining in bed nights is not likely. Mozambique also benefits from its location, nestled among key tourism destinations in southern Africa.
Many foreigners are involved, almost exclusively, in fact. Community development is part of their business plan, and the country has a young, energetic group of tourism industry professionals leading the charge. This is an open economy looking forward to better days. Across the country, from the Bazaruto Archipelago up to Cabo Delgado on the coast, and from the Limpopo Transfrontier Park up to the Niassa Reserve, in only a few short years some exciting sustainable tourism developments have been made leading to positive expectations for this developing tourism destination as a whole .
What will be the driving forces for Sustainable Tourism development in Mozambique?
1.  Foreign Investment and Guidance: Carr Foundation’s Involvement in Gorongosa National Park
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The Gorongosa National Park Restoration Project is a collaboration between the Government of Mozambique and the Carr Foundation, a U.S. non-profit organization, to protect and restore the ecosystem of Gorongosa National Park and to develop an ecotourism industry to benefit local communities. The rehabilitation of Gorongosa National Park in Central Mozambique represents one of the great conservation opportunities in the world today. Gorongosa is a region of high species diversity and ecological features found nowhere else. In January, 2008, the Foundation signed a 20-year contract with the Government to co-manage the Park. Currently the Restoration project is; training a revitalized anti-poaching team and rebuilding park infrastructure, conducting biological monitoring including a large herbivore count, carnivore survey, fish survey and vegetation map, creating a permanent biological research center in the park that will not only advance scientific understanding but also provide education and employment opportunities to Mozambicans, and working to improve the lives of people in the Park’s surrounding lands by creating employment in park jobs, funding schools and health clinics, and training local farmers in sustainable agriculture.
2.  Young Energy and Enthusiasm: Nkwichi Lodge and Explore Gorongosa
gorongosa signThese are two examples of young travel industry professionals taking their training and expertise from elsewhere in Africa and applying it in the developing tourism industry in Mozambique in the form of small, sustainable accommodation experiences in Mozambique.  The Manda Wilderness Community Trust works closely with Nkwichi Lodge, a hidden hand-built lodge on the dazzling Mozambique shores of Lake Niassa (Lake Malawi), to ensure that local communities also benefit from the growth of responsible tourism in the region. The Trust also manages the Manda Wilderness Community Conservation Area which was created to protect and manage a 120,000 hectare community reserve on the shores of Lake Niassa. The Manda Wilderness Project has managed to get the local communities to set aside some of their land for conservation, to make a wildlife reserve and to use their natural resources in a sustainable manner.

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For example they appreciate their trees have a value. They control who comes to cut firewood in their local areas and regulate their harvesting. Patrick Simkin, the project’s founder, drew from his international and adventurous lifestyle set the scene to embark on this ambitious project and has been at Nkwichi Lodge since 1999 as the Resident Director and one of the share holders.
Another exciting new project is Explore Gorongosa, the first private tourism initiative in Gorongosa National Park (mentioned above). Having been involved in the safari industry quite extensively over the past decade, both on the ground in guiding and management roles in South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe, and in the back rooms of tour operator businesses and travel consultancies in Cape Town and London, Rob & Jos Janisch figured that there was indeed a niche for a small handful of unique safari products that endeavoured more actively to embrace the way the world of travel, particularly African safari travel, was moving. With much assistance from the park’s management team and from The Carr Foundation, the concept has manifested into Explore Gorongosa, a unique luxury safari experience within the Gorongosa National Park. The experience is a seasonal, luxury tented safari camp with plans to explore further options within this magnificent park.
Capacity Building by Private Sector in Luxury Travel: Coral Lodge 15.41
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This lodge is in an area that is perhaps the least developed in the whole of Mozambique. Communities that rely on the tides and mangroves have been left behind in the development that has manifested elsewhere in the country.  Culturally separate as well (as beautifully chronicled in the book Mozambique Mysteries), there have been significant challenges here when it comes to capacity building. This luxury tourism project will employ many of the local community, training them in luxury tourism and building the capacity of even this community to benefit from Mozambique’s development in tourism.
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The Ministry of Tourism of Mozambique (MITUR) recently mentioned capacity building in luxury tourism in a Responsible Tourism Policy and Code of Conduct report for the industry. While this needs to be implemented by MITUR, feedback and buy-in from key private sector stakeholders will ensure its successful implementation and ongoing capacity building in the luxury and sustainable segment of Mozambique’s tourism industry. Government support will play a critical role in the development of Mozambique’s luxury tourism industry.

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Conservation through Transfrontier Conservation Areas (TFCA): Machampane Wilderness Camp
A TFCA is a protected area that spans across boundaries of multiple countries, where the political border sections that are enclosed within its area are abolished. This includes removal of all forms of physical boundaries, such as fences, allowing free migration of animals and humans within the area. In the case of Machampane, this has allowed tourism investment from South Africa spill over into Mozambique, supporting the local communities and wildlife in the region. To highlight a few of the contributions via this Peace Park:
1. TFPD supports community owned shops by purchasing supplies in the remote town of Massingir and by taking its 4×4 trail clients to shops in Mapai where the clients purchase goods.
2. TFPD also introduces its guests to community life at local villages which supports the shops and craft makers and supports anti-malaria campaigns in nearby rural communities.
3. TFPD markets PNL as a tourism destination and as a consequence of its marketing efforts generates clients both for its own and PNL’s facilities. This effort results in border fees/visa fees, import duties, park entry fees and park accommodation and camping fees which all accrue to the Mozambique Government.