Madagascar : cruise to bridge the gap of tourism off-season

Cruise is a profitable market which has registered an impressive growth during the last thirty years ; the industry’s global output attained 117 billions dollars in 2015 according to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). With a total of 448 ships in late 2016, the world fleet is expected to attain 545 ships by 2026 with a capacity of 230 788 passengers.  In Madagascar, luxury cruise can be the substitute for inland travel during tourism off-season which is contrariwise the peak season for cruising.   Since its creation in 1968, Madagascar Airtours has believed in the potential of high class cruise success in the island and is, until today, working hard to promote luxury cruise in the country.


Vanilla Islands at the heart of the Blue economy

Created in 2010, Vanilla Islands is the prime destination in the Indian Ocean. Unless industrial fishing, promoting cruise shows how well the seven islands in the region have a grip on what oceans can make to a country or a region’s economy in a sustainable way.   More than 20 millions cruisers are travelling around the world each year, only 0,11 % of them reaches the Vanilla Islands.  However, this trademark has helped boosting cruise market in the Indian Ocean with a 100 % increase of cruisers number between 2014 and 2016.


Being the greatest island of them, Madagascar is holding a vital position in this brand and has an objective to attract 15 000 cruisers in 2017 representing almost 50 % of cruisers in 2015 – 2016 season.   Hundreds of cruisers, hundreds of tourist guides hired for the time of an excursion, the arrival of only one ship leaves locally an acute economic impact.  Private companies, restaurants, banks and handicraft shops but mostly rickshaws come to a win – win result. 


Cruise : a great potential for Madagascar

Madagascar, now the 5th poorest country in the world, is underestimating the economic potential of the sea surrounding itself.  Although cruise has existed in Madagascar since 1970, tourism promotion has always been driven by inland biodiversity, landscape ramblings or extreme sports rather than cruise. “ For years, national endeavors to develop our country have tended to forget that Madagascar is first an island ... fortunately, Vanilla Islands concept had started to swing the direction ” stated Olivia MADHOW RASOAMANARIVO, Managing Director of Madagascar Airtours. “ When workers in tourism sector are complaining about what to do during tourism off-season, cruise can really bridge this gap ” she continued.   


Attacks on tourists jeopardize in the fastest way possible tourism in a country. Besides, knowing that Madagascar had a Safety Index of 4,66 in 2015 according to the World Economic Forum (WEF), her company, which is working hard toward advancing luxury cruise claims for tourist safety and security especially when her customers come from the renowned American Silversea Group.


In field, all harbours in Madagascar can accommodate cruise ships but with 17 harbours throughout the territory, only 8 (Nosy Be, Toamasina, Morondava, Ehoala, Tulear, Majungua, Sainte Marie and Diego Suarez) are now used for this activity.  Any national efforts to attract cruisers should take into account this underuse of existing facilities and start considering all possible angles for tourism development. What kind of excursions can be organized or what cultural heritage can be spotlighted in these port cities? Then idenfying which harbour need to be extended …

Madagascar is all in one :  “a mining, a farming and a maritime country” . The New York Times Travel places it at the 19th place out of 52 countries to visit in 2017.  While tourism is a highly competitive sector both on a global and regional level, the question is What extra miles will Government drive to further cruise industry in Madagascar ?

Published on Friday, 31 March 2017 07:00