Political stability is a priority for the government hoping to boost tourism
With limited agricultural revenues and a lack of significant industries, the Comoros has the potential to create valuable revenues from travel and tourism. However, the island’s travel and tourism industry remains minimal and does not contribute substantial value to the country’s GDP. Long-term political instability is partly to blame for this situation, with the Comoros having experienced some 20 coups since gaining independence from France in 1975. Potentially a holiday paradise, with pristine white tropical beaches and blue lagoons, as well as additional natural attractions, such as coral reefs, unique flora and fauna and an active volcano, the Comoros islands are trying to consolidate political stability amid tensions between semi-autonomous islands and the central government. In 2012, the country passed a procedure to become a full member of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), a political branch within the World Bank. This membership allows the country to access direct international investments and assures risks related to political instability or a cancellation of a contract.
Multiple sources of investments to relaunch economy
The new government (since 2011) has focused its attention on the creation of relationships with strategic economic partners. The European Union and a big Diaspora of French Comorians already make a great contribution to the country’s incoming receipts, but improving relationships with Arab countries and those in the Indian Ocean are gaining importance for the Comoros. China is also looking for industrial opportunities in Comoros and could become a potential tourism source market for the country over the forecast period.
Marine and volcano tourism are key attractions
The Comoros offers tourists a number of diverse attractions, although the most popular are beach and diving activities, as well as visits to the active volcano, Mount Karthala. Once regarded as a potential threat to the population, the volcano is increasingly seen by residents as an asset, encouraging tourists and potentially providing electricity in the future through geothermic energy. There are spectacular coral reefs around the islands that already attract keen divers, while the nation’s white sand beaches are enticing to many visitors. The remoteness and undeveloped nature of the islands are also an attraction, although travellers seeking a luxury experience are not currently catered for.
Tough competition, with more developed neighbours enticing tourists
Whilst the Comoros faces difficulties with regards to many aspects of its tourism product, a key challenge is to entice tourists away from other Indian Ocean island states, such as Réunion Island, the Seychelles and Madagascar. Tourism is significantly more developed on the majority of these islands, and, as a result, they are more attractive to many visitors. An important factor is the provision of direct flights from Europe and Africa, which the Comoros needs to work hard at establishing. Improvements in infrastructure will also help, but the Comoros will continue to find it difficult to compete directly with these countries, unless significant changes are seen across the country’s entire travel and tourism industry.
Ecotourism for the future
The comparative advantage of the Comoros over other destinations is the quality of its natural resources. The islands have an impressive range of rare habitats, located both on land and sea. As a result, the Comoros is looking towards ecotourism as the future of its tourism offering. With the government and NGO’s working to assist, ecotourism is likely to become established as a cornerstone of the country’s travel and tourism product over the forecast period.
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