Can Ilha de Mozambique thrive without Ibo?
In 2019 cyclone Kenneth wreaked havoc on Cabo Del Gado and a bloody insurgency has made the province a no-go area for tourists. Perhaps now is the time to look at developing new and socially inclusive tourism offerings to build a sustainable future in the North.
For many tourists a trip to the North wouldn’t be complete without a stay on both Ilha De Mozambique and Ibo. But since the cyclone and ongoing civil unrest tourists are staying away from Ibo and many tourism establishment have closed their doors at least until the situation improves. Ilha De Mozambique remains unaffected by recent events, but its unclear if Ilha has enough destination appeal without its Cabo del Gado partner. Can it continue to pull the visitors or will its numbers slide too?
One possible solution is for Ilha and the surrounding area to increase their tourism offerings to compensate for the loss of the Quirimbas destination. Matabane near Nacala is already building up its infrastructure with the proposed 260million Euro investment of Mauritian businessman Amédée Darga. This involves the construction of 1,000 hotel rooms (rising to 5,000 rooms in the second phase). Vamos ver!
Ilha’s developments are more sympathetic to the Swahili culture, style and tempo of island life, and conditioned by the need to conform to UNESCO World Heritage considerations. Nevertheless there are improved hotels, new guest houses and many more activities. Terraço has expanded with additional luxury rooms and Coral Lodge is gaining more exposure through an Airlink promotion and other clever initiatives. Also the inclusion in Petit Fute travel guide of Ilha Blue, Jardim dos Aloes, Escondidinho and Dar Diwani guest house will attract new French and Spanish speaking markets.
Perhaps the greatest opportunity for the region is in the South around Lunga and Ponta Bajone. This area has always been touted as the next big thing. Notable for its many deserted white sandy beaches, winding mangrove channels and stunning marine and bird life, the area rivals the Quirimbas for natural beauty and tops it for sense of adventure.
Unlike the mega project proposed for Matabane, Lunga is likely to become popular as a flycamping, glamping and sensitive lodge destination with local culture influencing the style and tempo of every visit. It will appeal as much to honeymooners as it will to adventure, corporate and incentive traveller.
Who knows, it may well be a blessing in disguise. With something for everyone Ilha de Mozambique and the surrounding area could become the one Mozambican destination with something to appeal to every market.