Malagasy Tourism Minister Joel Randriamandranto receives an interview with Xinhua in Antananarivo, Madagascar, on July 19, 2022. (Xinhua/Sitraka Rajaonarison)
ANTANANARIVO, July 29 (Xinhua) -- Renowned for its wildlife, Madagascar, the largest island in the Indian Ocean, intends to diversify its tourism offers to quickly bring back international tourists, Malagasy Tourism Minister Joel Randriamandranto, told Xinhua in a recent interview.
"Our strategy is to diversify our tourism offer. Madagascar is well-known and recognized for its nature, its fauna and flora, but we do not have that only. We can develop ecotourism, luxury tourism, and sports tourism among others," he said.
To promote tourism on the international market, Madagascar organized its first kite-surfing festival in May at Sakalava Bay, in the northern region of the country. "This initiative gave the country international visibility," Randriamandranto said.
"Next November, the trail of the sacred hills will take place in the Analamanga region (in the center of the island), and we expect to bring many international participants to this trail practiced by millions of enthusiasts around the world," he said.
At the end of September, international travel operators are invited to have a week-long trip to nine regions of Madagascar to discover the beauty of these regions as well as the daily life of the Malagasy people, the minister said.
A special virtual exhibition on Madagascar is also being prepared to better sell the destination internationally, Randriamandranto said.
He recalled that the best year for tourism in Madagascar was 2019, with the arrival of about 400,000 tourists.
However, from March 2020, Madagascar's borders were closed until March 2022 due to COVID-19. "The tourism sector was one of the most affected by the pandemic, as it lives from international trade."
Madagascar also tried to strengthen the hospitality sector and improve the quality of its services, promote digitalization, and strengthen its partnership with the country's technical and financial partners.
To better promote Madagascar as a top tourist destination on social media platforms, the country has targetted all traditional markets such as Britain, France, Italy and South Africa, and new markets like India, eastern Europe and other parts of Africa.
China is a very large market with potential that should not be ignored, Randriamandranto said, stressing the need to improve infrastructure and accessibility to better meet the expectations of Chinese tourists. ■