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Communities at the heart of a sustainable tourism for Madagascar

Posted on 25 September 2020

44,000 direct jobs and 300,000 indirect jobs in the tourism sector have been threatened by the Covid-19 pandemic, this is the report of the Madagascar Multisectoral Emergency Plan published by the Prime Minister's Office in July 2020. This sector includes hotels, restaurants, travel agencies, tour guides, suppliers of raw materials to hotels, community ecotourism.
Small businesses in the sector, most of which are those of local communities, are facing revenue losses. The decline in tourism business volume in Madagascar is estimated at 83%, representing a loss of 620 million USD in 2020.
The health of the environment, which is closely linked to the emergence of pandemics, requires much more substantial solutions and investments. The total budget of Madagascar's Multisectoral Emergency Plan amounts to 826.09 million USD of which 0.09 million USD will be allocated to the environment and sustainable development and 0.74 million USD to tourism. It should be understood that a healthy environment helps to avoid the appearance of zoonotic diseases such as Covid-19. Maintaining our biodiversity in good health also makes it possible to anticipate the economic losses affecting the tourism sector as we are experiencing today. Especially by 2023, Madagascar's ambition is to welcome 500,000 tourists and to make our country a sustainable and ecotourism destination of reference. In view of the current circumstances, tourism must be rethought.

Community-based ecotourism is a responsible and supportive way of travelling. It is the exchanges and the discovery of preserved nature that are the driving forces for tourists. In Kivalo for example, an ecotourism site in the west of Madagascar, near Morondava, tourists are directly sensitized on the importance of sustainable conservation of mangroves during their visits.

Community-based ecotourism is one of the most effective activities to sustain conservation actions and sustainable management of natural resources. Indeed, it contributes to reducing the dependence of local communities on these resources. Thanks to the ecotourism activities they develop, communities are less directly dependent on natural resources. Nature becomes a capital that supports their income, rather than the only source to be exploited for surviving. As an illustration, two years after the launch of their ecotourism initiative, the village of Kivalo is already listed among the flagship ecotourism sites in the region around Morondava.
In this model of tourism, collaboration between stakeholders (the Kivalo community, the tourism office, the regional office of tourism, etc.) is much emphasized because it is a joint effort that guarantees the success of ecotourism activities.