Special safety meeting
Ilha de Mozambique has an increasing number of small boat operators taking passengers to sea, either to see the whales or to picnic on nearby islands. At a meeting called following 2 incidents last week, the Capitania laid out the rules and warned that under his control things will be tightened up.
One thing that came out at the meeting was how few boat operators are actually licensed to take tourists, in fact of all those present it appears that only Ilha Blue and Coral lodge take this seriously. The others, including the expensive hotels, operate boats using ‘transport people and cargo’ or ‘recreational’ licenses, which are not intended for this purpose. The Capitania warned against this.
Does it matter?
There are obvious safety considerations, boats licensed to carry tourists are subject to more scrutiny than boats licensed for other purposes. There’s also the issue of commitment, if you carry tourists why not have the proper licence? Its easy enough to get and doesn’t cost so much more. But the main reason I think it matters is because it shows that the destination is maturing and understands what it takes to be competitive nationally and internationally. Our industry partners are watching, including the inbound operators who need to be confident that all their suppliers are compliant with local regulations and that their clients are being properly looked after.
The Port Captain is threatening to get tough, and maybe thats not a bad thing, its our responsibility to keep people safe. I get the feeling that it will be a slow process though, it is Ilha after all, nothing moves fast and local boat operators will struggle to meet the requirements, not to mention the additional expense. But that is not true for hotels and other ‘professional’ tourism businesses who could take up the challenge and get everything in order quick smart.
There was also mention of forming boat operator associations but I didn’t see too much enthusiasm around the room for this.