Tourism in Mozambique took a dramatic tumble during the country's civil war from 1977 to 1992. Since then, the government has worked hard to restore the country's tourism industry, and perhaps fortunately, due to the fact that they essentially had to start all over again, were able to better implement sustainable and ecotourism principles in the rebuilding process. With many natural attractions such as beaches, marine life, parks, and reserves, Mozambique's tourism industry is environmentally fragile if not managed properly. Through conservation and protection efforts, many of the country's most vulnerable attractions are being managed to ensure tourists have a minimal impact. The government is working with global organisations such as the UNWTO and the World Bank to ensure ecotourism is a cornerstone of the Mozambican tourism industry.
In addition to preserving the environmental aspects of Mozambique, the government and international organisations are dedicated to using tourism as a catalyst for improving life for many of the country's most impoverished people. Known as Pro-Poor Tourism, initiatives such as 2005's Export-Led Poverty Reduction Programme (EPRP) work on integrating local communities and entrepreneurs into the tourism industry to enable economic benefit and growth for the local poor through ecotourism projects.
It is clear that Mozambique and its government have approached tourism growth holistically; the understand that in order to truly achieve a sustainable tourism industry they must concentrate not only on the environment, but on the economics and socio-cultural benefits for the local populations. Thus, many of Mozambique's ecotourism businesses have a distinctly local presence and attitude about them, specifically the many eco-lodges that have sprung up in recent years.
Nuarro Luxury Eco-Lodge
A good example of this trend can be found on the Baixo do Pinda Peninsula in Northern Mozambique is home to one of the most luxurious ecolodges in Africa, if not the world: Nuarro Luxury Eco-Lodge. This luxury beachfront accommodation is eco-friendly in many senses, and offers its guests this peace of mind along with an exceptionally high-end setting. Endless private beaches yield an impressive biodiversity, all of the lodge's power generated by wind and solar energy, and due to Nuarro's commitment to ethical and fair tourism, the project is partly owned by locals, and was constructed by locals using local materials, thus emphasising a dedication to social responsibility and ecological consideration. The lodge's name is even locally derived; Nuarro is the name of the point where the Nanatha Bay ends. Nuarro is focused on three of the key pillars of sustainable tourism: benefiting the local economy, enriching the local culture, and preserving the environment.
The ecotourism philosophy of Nuarro is present in all aspects of the lodge, including the available activities. Guests canengage in land-based activities, such as bird watching, interactive cultural village tours, and bicycle or foot eco-trails. Conversely, with such a spectacular beach panorama, many guests will likely find themselves drawn to the ocean and the wide variety of marine activities. Scuba diving, snorkelling, and sea kayaking will satiate the active guests, and those after more relaxing experiences can participate in dolphin and whale watching expeditions, as well a sailing trips and sunset cruises on the traditional sailing vessel, the dhow. Nuarro offers a luxurious ecotourism experience in every aspect, and visitors will be able to truly get a sense of the local culture in this beautiful corner of southern Africa's Mozambique.
National Parks and Reserves
Home to about eight national parks and about seven reserves and protected areas, Mozambique is full of places to engage in ecotourism activities. Since much of Mozambique's big game was wiped out during its civil war, their current attitude is towards conservation and protection of the animals reintroduced to the parks, and the park environment itself.
About an hour south of Mozambique's capital, Maputo, is the Maputo Elephant Reserve, an area devastated by the civil war, and dedicated to rebuilding a natural habitat for the elephants. Additionally, it was recently announced that the World Bank has committed to a $3 million investment into the sustainable development of an ecotourism resort within the Maputo Elephant Reserve. The elephant-friendly ecolodge will be community driven, and aligns with the Mozambican government's policy of involving local communities in the management and development of their land and associated economic ventures. The local partnership organisation, A Hi Zameni Chemucane Association represents approximately 850 people from three regional communities, and has signed a fifty-year agreement with the World Bank.
Islands and Beaches
Naturally, with an exceptionally long coastline as Mozambique has, its beaches are frequently the star attractions for tourists. Ecotourism activities are aplenty at many of the beach resorts, specifically snorkelling. Scuba diving, swimming, and surfing are also quite popular, and many equipment rental places can be found in coastal areas.
About halfway up the coastline of Mozambique is Vilanculos, a popular beach town and stepping-stone to the famously utopian Bazaruto Archipelago, a conservation area and national park that has been said to be the most beautiful set of islands in Africa. The designation of these islands as a conservation area is widely regarded as a significant achievement, considering the ecosystem of the archipelago supports a significant variety of seabird species, as well as the extensive plant and animal biodiversity of its coral reefs.
A Green Future
Mozambicans and their government are working tirelessly to ensure a greener future for ecotourism in their country. The government has placed significant emphasis on the importance of inclusive ecotourism projects, and the economic and socio-cultural enrichment of the local population has also been prioritised. If this continues, the chances of negative tourism impacts certainly will decrease, as will environmental strain due to tourists. The demonstrated dedication to Mozambique's incredible biodiversity and wildlife population through conservation and protection in relation to tourism, can nurture the environment in a way that it is restored and respected. Overall, Mozambique's commitment to ecotourism is strong, and will yield a very green and successful future for this naturally beautiful country.
Photo Credit:Roger Gordon