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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 July, 2004, 15:14 GMT 16:14 UK
Tourists discover Mozambique beauty
By Dan Dickinson
BBC, Pemba, Mozambique

View from Pemba hotel
The Pemba Beach pool seems to flow into the Indian Ocean
The crescent-shaped white sandy beach, the ubiquitous coconut trees, warm seas and array of beach-side restaurants serving freshly caught tuna fish or barracuda, make Pemba on the far northern coast of Mozambique a typical tropical paradise.

This sleepy town, which is the capital of Cabo Delgado province, has all the right qualities to become a popular destination with tourists from Europe and the United States.

But its future success could be closely linked to the troubles being experienced by the two tourism giants of East Africa, Kenya and Tanzania.

The tourist industry in Mozambique could be set to benefit from the threat of terrorism and the increase in general crime levels in Kenya and Tanzania.

Already there are indications that tour companies in Europe are touting Cabo Delgado as the new tourist destination of East and Southern Africa.

New face

The welcome in Pemba is laid-back and relaxed. Bonifacio do Rosario Dias, the owner of a small beachside guest house, says this is a part of Africa which has a lot to offer foreign visitors.

"We have a unique situation. Beaches and marine parks and nearby inland wildlife reserves."

Pemba still runs on a generator
Rui Monteiro
Hotel manager
The centre-piece of Pemba's emerging tourism industry is the five-star Pemba Beach Hotel, which was opened two years ago at a cost of $20m.

In the reception area, water trickles over a fountain made from local marble as guests splash around in a pool, which when seen from a distance appears to run into the Indian Ocean.

This is the new face of Mozambique, a sign of a optimism in a country which seems finally to have lain to rest the demons of its 16-year long civil war.

The stimulus for growth has come largely from foreign investors; the Pemba Beach Hotel is Saudi-owned. South African and Italian companies are also investing.

Paradise found

It takes time to build a viable tourist industry. Occupancy rates at the Pemba Beach Hotel are still low and according to manager Rui Monteiro, will remain that way until Pemba's infrastructure improves.

Debbie Latcher from Mississippi
Debbie Latcher from the US is blazing the trail to Pemba
"We have a problem with electricity, Pemba still runs on a generator. We have a problem with the supply of water. Trucks have to travel 25km to collect water," he says.

"Then the supply of goods. Almost everything has to be imported either from outside the country or from Maputo as well."

The tourists who do stay here, happily trot out all the guide book paradise holiday cliches.

There may not be many of them at present but that is set to change, according to many people working in the industry who believe the perceived terror threat and increased levels of attacks against tourists in countries like Kenya and Tanzania will encourage people to come to Mozambique.

'Peaceful place'

Herman Franken who works for Tsogo Sun, the South African company which runs Pemba's newly-opened Nautilus Hotel and Casino says tourists want safe holiday destinations.

"There have been terrorist attacks across the world in many tourist destinations. People will stay away from areas where there might be a terrorist threat. There is none of that in Mozambique. This is a peaceful place."

It may seem strange to call Mozambique a peaceful place given its troubled history, but it is clear investors are confident it will remain that way.

A tourist boom, if it happens, will not take place overnight... but if tour companies do start to send their clients to Pemba, then that trickle of tourists could become a flood.


SEE ALSO:
Mozambique transforms its economy
13 Apr 04  |  Business
Mozambique aims for mineral wealth
20 Aug 03  |  Business
Country profile: Mozambique
10 May 04  |  Country profiles


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